Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)

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They place a great emphasis on the self-conscious attempts of U. Their presentation of the process thus begins, quite appropriately, with a summary of American capitalism and how it developed over the course of the twentieth century, with special attention to the major reforms implemented during the Great Depression of the s and World War II itself.

They avoid oversimplifications, recognizing that the state has always played a role in the American economy. After summarizing the New Deal and its aftermath within the United States, Panitch and Gindin identify and analyze several periods in the modern era. In each, they emphasize the central importance of American capitalism and the American state in promoting the developments that drove the world economy forward in a particular direction.

The success of this period in many ways set the stage for a period of crisis that lasted from the late s until the early s. Since then, the world has largely been reordered along the globalizing lines pioneered by the United States. Globalization, despite its achievements, has been marked by a series of periodic crises that have threatened global economic stability and called forth further American leadership. The book ends with an excellent, detailed discussion of the global financial crisis that began in In their nuanced and sophisticated analysis, Panitch and Gindin pay due attention to the role of powerful special interests, and also emphasize the pressures that policymakers face when confronted with problems that threaten structural stability.

They are also able to integrate electoral pressures on democratic governments into their narrative. The book serves as a welcome reminder of the importance of domestic socioeconomic and class relations for an understanding of international economics and politics, and of the centrality of the United States for this understanding. For those who remember the somewhat stylized and overheated debates among Marxists between structuralists and instrumentalists in the s, the analytical maturity and complexity of this book will be something of a revelation.

At the same time, it should remind mainstream IPE scholars of the foundational contributions of Marxist political economy to what should, and can, be a common analytical enterprise.

Panitch and Gindin have written as balanced and sensible an interpretation of contemporary capitalism as one could imagine. Scholars, students, and other observers of international economic affairs will all gain from a reading of this authoritative and comprehensive book. He divides the modern era into two periods. The first dates back to the s and s. Like Panitch and Gindin, then, Kotz regards the New Deal and its aftermath as a crucial turning point.

From World War II until the s, he argues, capitalist societies settled on a managed form of capitalist development. After a decade of struggles, neoliberal capitalism was firmly in place. Kotz regards this neoliberal capitalism as inherently unstable. He sees the crisis that began in as more than a simple cyclical macroeconomic crisis.

Rather, he regards it as a fundamental structural crisis of neoliberal capitalism, one which cannot be resolved by changes in policies or new political compromises. And yet neoliberal capitalism seems to have survived largely intact.

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To explain this apparent puzzle, Kotz invokes the role of ideas — the coherence of neoliberal theory and the strength of its ideology, along with the collapse of communism. He also argues for the importance of business satisfaction with the current order pp. The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism addresses a central issue in the modern international economic and political order: the decline of more managed capitalist systems and the rise of more market-oriented ones. It makes a series of arguments for these developments and their persistence. But our first in a series of articles on globalisation shows that its extent can be exaggerated—and that it can be reversed.

FOR good or ill, globalisation has become the economic buzz-word of the s. National economies are undoubtedly becoming steadily more integrated as cross-border flows of trade, investment and financial capital increase. Consumers are buying more foreign goods, a growing number of firms now operate across national borders, and savers are investing more than ever before in far-flung places. Whether all of this is for good or ill is a topic of heated debate. One, positive view is that globalisation is an unmixed blessing, with the potential to boost productivity and living standards everywhere.

This is because a globally integrated economy can lead to a better division of labour between countries, allowing low-wage countries to specialise in labour-intensive tasks while high-wage countries use workers in more productive ways. It will allow firms to exploit bigger economies of scale. And with globalisation, capital can be shifted to whatever country offers the most productive investment opportunities, not trapped at home financing projects with poor returns. Critics of globalisation take a gloomier view.

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They predict that increased competition from low-wage developing countries will destroy jobs and push down wages in today's rich economies. Pressure to compete will erode the ability of governments to set their own economic policies. The critics also worry about the increased power of financial markets to cause economic havoc, as in the European currency crises of and , Mexico in and South-East Asia in The aim of this series of schools briefs is to look in detail at these controversial arguments on each side of the globalisation debate.

But it is necessary first of all to examine what precisely is meant by globalisation, how far it has proceeded, and whether the phenomenon is as new as it is generally held out to be. Some of the answers are surprising.


The 50 years before the first world war saw large cross-border flows of goods, capital and people. That period of globalisation, like the present one, was driven by reductions in trade barriers and by sharp falls in transport costs, thanks to the development of railways and steamships. The present surge of globalisation is in a way a resumption of that previous trend. That earlier attempt at globalisation ended abruptly with the first world war, after which the world moved into a period of fierce trade protectionism and tight restrictions on capital movement.

During the early s, America sharply increased its tariffs, and other countries retaliated, making the Great Depression even greater. The volume of world trade fell sharply. International capital flows virtually dried up in the inter-war period as governments imposed capital controls to try to insulate their economies from the impact of a global slump. Capital controls were maintained after the second world war, as the victors decided to keep their exchange rates fixed—an arrangement known as the Bretton Woods system, after the American town in which it was approved.

But the big economic powers also agreed that reducing trade barriers was vital to recovery. Trade flourished. This signalled the rebirth of the global capital market. America and Germany quickly stopped trying to control the inflow and outflow of capital. Britain abolished capital controls in and Japan mostly in However, France and Italy did not abandon the last of their restrictions on cross-border investment until This is part of the reason why continental Europeans tend to worry more about the power of global capital markets: America has been exposed to them for much longer.

Two forces have been driving these increased flows of goods and money. The first is technology. With the costs of communication and computing falling rapidly, the natural barriers of time and space that separate national markets have been falling too. The second driving force has been liberalisation. As a result of both the GATT negotiations and unilateral decisions, almost all countries have lowered barriers to foreign trade.

Most countries have welcomed international capital as well. Although liberalisation has proceeded at different speeds in different places, the trend is worldwide. Only a handful of renegades still try to isolate themselves. Over the past decade, trade has increased twice as fast as output, foreign direct investment three times as fast and cross-border trade in shares ten times as fast see chart 2. The trend towards globalisation is clear. But its extent can be exaggerated.

Consider in turn the markets for products, capital and workers.

Regional and Global Economic Integration – Thought Economics

One measure of the extent to which product markets are integrated is the ratio of trade to output. This has increased sharply in most countries since But by this measure Britain and France are only slightly more open to trade today than they were in , while Japan is less open now than then see chart 3. Another gauge of the degree of product-market integration is the extent to which prices converge across countries.

Technology and the World Economy: The Case of the American Hemisphere

In theory, free trade should push prices together as competition forces high-cost producers to lower their prices. Studies show, however, that large divergences in price often persist for long periods. Laptop computers and Levi's jeans, for example, are consistently cheaper in America than in Europe or Japan.

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This reflects a variety of factors, including tastes, transport costs, differences in taxes and inefficient distribution networks. But some of the difference is due to the persistence of import barriers.

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Product markets are still nowhere near as integrated across borders as they are within nations. Consider the example of trade between the United States and Canada, one of the least restricted trading borders in the world. On average, trade between a Canadian province and an American state is 20 times smaller than domestic trade between two Canadian provinces, after adjusting for distance and income levels.

For all the talk about a single market, the Canadian and American markets remain substantially segmented from one another. For other countries this is truer still. The financial markets are not yet truly integrated either. Despite the newfound popularity of international investing, capital markets were by some measures more integrated at the start of this century than they are now.

Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy) Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)
Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy) Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)
Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy) Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)
Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy) Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)
Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy) Economic Integration in the Americas (Studies in the Modern World Economy)

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