Professor Nelson’s main research and teaching interests lie in the subfields of International and Comparative Political Economy. His recent work explores a variety of topics, including the politics that shape the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) lending policies; the structure and governance of financial markets before and after the near-collapse of the American financial system in 2008; the political dynamics of developing and emerging market countries’ decisions to open their economies to international capital flows; how organizational cultures shape the behavior of international institutions; and the international organization of sovereign debt markets.
Professor Nelson's book, The Currency of Confidence: How Economic Beliefs Shape the IMF's Relationship with Its Borrowers (Cornell University Press, 2017), is based on his dissertation, which won the American Political Science Association's Helen Dwight Reid Award in 2010. He has published articles in International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Review of International Political Economy, and Review of International Organizations.
His most recent work follows two tracks. First, he is looking at the origins of mass public attitudes toward two international economic issues that are rarely investigated at the level of the average individual - the use of capital controls to insulate national financial systems and the choice to settle legal disputes with foreign bondholders. A second new project explores the divergent trajectories of international legalization in the trade and monetary realms.He is on the steering committee for the Global Capitalism and Law Research Group housed at Northwestern's Buffett Institute for Global Studies.
He completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Carleton College and received his PhD from Cornell University's Government Department