TRADE history, theory, myths + realities

Small Indian vessels used on ancient Malabar Coast

see also

academia/gg/pdf 9-2022 Free Trade Theory and Reality: How Economists Have Ignored Their Own Evidence for 100 Years – by Jeff Ferry

“For the last 90 years, the United States has pursued and advocated free trade. For the last 60 of those 90 years, American workers and other observers have watched America lose high paying jobs to imports and asked: can this really be good for the American economy? Professional economists have answered, virtually unanimously, that yes, it is good, due to something called the Law of Comparative Advantage.

They are wrong. Their free trade theory, based on the so-called Law of Comparative Advantage, does not work for the U.S. or for many other countries. We know this because dozens of economists have published studies of the empirical results of import penetration showing that the Law of Comparative Advantage, and the modern economic theory built around it is outmoded and inapplicable to high wage nations like the U.S. Indeed, it can actually worsen the performance of high wage nations. …”… read article here


upates 3-2022

rwer.wordpress.com/ 23-3-2022 Free to trade efficiency? by Peter Radford

Fascinating. The war in Europe is messing with some major preconceptions and exposing some as illusions that, perhaps, we would be better off without. Take, for instance, The Economist magazine’s leader article entitled “Trading with the enemy.”  Here’s the key question the article poses:

“Is it prudent for open societies to conduct normal economic relations with autocratic ones, such as Russia and China, that abuse human rights, endanger security and grow more threatening the richer they get?”

You and I might answer in the negative with a certain ease, but for the Economist and its ilk the question is more nuanced.  After all aren’t freedom and free trade one and the same?  If you stop trading freely aren’t you surrendering your freedom?…”…

…The history of globalisation is usually told in two parts, separated not only by two world wars but also by changes in technology, institutions, and economic logic. This column reconsiders that narrative. Using detailed new evidence on Germany’s foreign trading practices from 1800 to 1913 (the ‘first’ globalisation), it finds that most growth took place along the extensive margin, while 25–30% of trade was intra-industry. If the first globalisation saw substantial heterogeneity within countries and industries, it may be time to re-think the ‘classical’ versus ‘new’ trade paradigm. …

… Still, classical trade models are obviously not dead. At a very broad level, they seem to capture how countries specialised before 1914 – after all, they were invented to capture exactly this. Germany did specialise in manufacturing products, while agriculture in Germany and elsewhere in Europe was increasingly exposed to import competition: the ‘European grain invasion’ (O’Rourke 1997) was very real. Farmers responded either by giving up and leaving agriculture, lobbying for protection, or shifting to different products (Suesse and Wolf 2020). To us this suggests thinking about globalisation along the lines of a hybrid model such as Bernard et al. (2007) that combines comparative advantages at the country-level with heterogeneity at the firm-level. Doing so might have far-reaching implications for our interpretation of the costs and benefits, the winners and losers, and hence for the political economy of globalisation. With more disaggregated trade data available for more countries – hopefully in standardised and comparable form – this is opening the door for a new understanding of the history of globalisation. With Oscar Wilde: “The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”     read or download here


economist.com 19-3-2022 Confronting Russia shows the tension between free trade and freedom – Liberal governments need to find a new path that combines openness and security


penguin.co.uk 2021 The World for Sale – Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources – We are entering an age of energy crises and food shortages. This book reveals why – by Javier Blas, Jack Farchy

  • ‘Gripping’ Economist
  • ‘Jaw-dropping’ Sunday Times
  • ‘Riveting’ Financial Times
  • ‘Fascinating’ Reuters

reviews: amazon goodreads ft.com inquisitivebiologist


academia.edu  12/2020 “Foreign Trade and Economic Convergence”  by Emilio José Calle Celi

Video Presentation of the Book (spanish only) kw: Development Economics, Monetary Economics, Development Studies, Monetary theory, Dollarization and Euroization, Monetary history, Development, Monetary Reform, Monetary Policy, Modern Monetary Theory, Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate, Foreign Trade Policy, Monetary Econo Mics, Economics & foreign trade, Foreign Trade, Monetary, U.S. Foreign and Trade Policies, Dollarization, Economic Convergence, London School of Economics and Political Science


Empire of Cotton: A Global History

goodreads  –  kindle samplemore amazon reviews here

“Masterly. . . . Deeply researched and eminently readable, Empire of Cotton gives new insight into the relentless expansion of global capitalism. With graceful prose and a clear and compelling argument, Beckert not only charts the expansion of cotton capitalism . . . he addresses the conditions of enslaved workers in the fields and wage workers in the factories. An astonishing achievement.”–Thomas Bender, New York Times

“Important . . .a major work of scholarship that will not be soon surpassed as the definitive account of the product that was, as Beckert puts it, the Industrial Revolution’s ‘launching pad.’” –Adam Hochschild, New York Times Book Review

“Breathtakingly comprehensive, informative and provocative.” –Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World

“Persuasive . . . brilliant . . . Beckert’s detailed narrative never scants the rich complexity of the cotton trade’s impact on many different societies.” –Wendy Smith, Boston Globe

Empire of Cotton proves Sven Beckert one of the new elite of genuinely global historians. Too little present-day academic history is written for the general public. ‘Empire of Cotton’ transcends this barrier and should be devoured eagerly, not only by scholars and students but also by the intelligent reading public. The book is rich and diverse in the treatment of its subject. The writing is elegant, and the use of both primary and secondary sources is impressive and varied. Overviews on international trends alternate with illuminating, memorable anecdotes. . . . Beckert’s book made me wish for a sequel.” –Daniel Walker Howe, The Washington Post

“Momentous and brilliant . . . Empire of Cotton is among the best nonfiction books of this year.” –Karen R. Long, Newsday

“Compelling . . . Beckert demonstrates persuasively how the ravenous cotton textile trade in Europe was instrumental in the emergence of capitalism and draws a direct line from the practices that nourished this empire to similar elements in the production of goods for today’s massive international retailers. Those who long to know more about how and why slavery took hold in Europe, Africa and the Americas will find this book to be immensely enlightening. Better still, those who live out the troubled legacy of the exploitation and enslavement of workers in the service of the cotton empire will find in it added inspiration for their continuing efforts to realize a just and more equitable society.” –Ruth Simmons, President Emeritus of Brown University

“Intellectually ambitious . . . a masterpiece of the historian’s craft.” –Timothy Shenk, The Nation

“A highly detailed, provocative work.” —Booklist

“Hefty, informative, and engaging . . . Beckert’s narrative skills keep the story of capitalism fresh and interesting for all readers.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Beckert’s] close-up study of the cotton economy is a valuable model for the study of capitalism generally, an economic system in which slavery and colonialism were not outliers but instead integral to the whole . . . a valuable contribution.” —Kirkus

“Fascinating and profound. . . . Global history as it should be written.” –Eric Foner

blogs.lse.ac.uk  2019  interview-sven-beckert-empire-of-cotton

pseudoerasmus.com  2016  Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Reductionist Summary  by pseudoerasmus

“Historian Sven Beckert’s widely acclaimed book, Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism, is a good agrarian, business, and labour history of a single commodity. But as economic history it’s not so good. Since African slavery and the Atlantic economy have gotten so much attention in the reviews of The Empire of Cotton, I have tried to stress the aspects of EOC so obviously inspired by Polanyi and various neo-Marxists. But I think the book is really, truly, powerfully pervaded by Polanyi. In fact today most historians are neo-Polanyists, since they are too cynical for Marxian optimism and utopianism.”

journals.sagepub.com  2019  Sven Beckert – The Empire of Cotton – A New History of Global Capitalism   by Deep Kanta Lahiri Choudhury

… “Beckert is impatient with terms like mercantilism or the phrase used by Gallagher and Robinson, ‘Imperialism of Free Trade’. In his second chapter, he argues that the period before formal empire should be termed ‘war imperialism’. Laissez-faire or free market mantras enabled and continue to enable developed countries to exploit the less developed countries. During the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europe inserted itself into pre-existing cotton textile connections across India, China, Africa and the Americas, networks both internal and international. As Beckert points out, they used brutal and vicious force to subvert, manipulate and subjugate markets, routes and peoples. Slavery was crucial to this period of forced cultivation of cotton in the Americas and the world of cotton.” …

theatlantic.com   2014  Empire of Cotton – Cotton is so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible, yet understanding its history is key to understanding the origins of modern capitalism.

… “The industry that brought great wealth to European manufacturers and merchants, and bleak employment to hundreds of thousands of mill workers, had also catapulted the United States onto center stage of the world economy, building “the most successful agricultural industry in the States of America which has been ever contemplated or realized.” Cotton exports alone put the United States on the world economic map. On the eve of the Civil War, raw cotton constituted 61 percent of the value of all U.S. products shipped abroad. Before the beginnings of the cotton boom in the 1780s, North America had been a promising but marginal player in the global economy.

Now, in 1861, the flagship of global capitalism, Great Britain, found itself dangerously dependent on the white gold shipped out of New York, New Orleans, Charleston, and other American ports. By the late 1850s, cotton grown in the United States accounted for 77 percent of the 800 million pounds of cotton consumed in Britain. It also accounted for 90 percent of the 192 million pounds used in France, 60 percent of the 115 million pounds spun in the Zollverein, and 92 percent of the 102 million pounds manufactured in Russia.

The reason for America’s quick ascent to market dominance was simple. The United States more than any other country had elastic supplies of the three crucial ingredients that went into the production of raw cotton: labor, land, and credit. As The Economist put it in 1861, the United States had become so successful in the world’s cotton markets because the planter’s “soil is marvelously fertile and costs him nothing; his labor has hitherto been abundant, unremitting and on the increase; the arrangements and mercantile organizations for cleaning and forwarding the cotton are all there.” By midcentury, cotton had become central to the prosperity of the Atlantic world. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier called it the “Hashish of the West,” a drug that was creating powerful hallucinatory dreams of territorial expansion, of judges who decide that “right is wrong,” of heaven as “a snug plantation” with “angel negro overseers.” …


The Oxford Handbook of the Political Economy of International Trade

oxfordhandbooks   2015  The Political Economy of InternationaL Trade –  Edited by Lisa L. Martin

“Drawing on models of economic interests and integrating them with political models of institutions and society, political scientists have made great strides in understanding the sources of trade policy preferences and outcomes. The twenty-sevenchapters in thishandbook include contributions from prominent scholars around the globe and from multiple theoretical and methodological traditions. The handbook considers the development of concepts and policies about international trade; the influence of individuals, firms, and societies; the role of domestic and international institutions; and the interaction of trade and other issues, such as monetary policy, environmental challenges, and human rights.”


theguardian.com 2018 The Making of the Middle Sea review – fascinating, intelligent and provocative – It is artefacts, not people, that shape this award-winning, challenging history of the Mediterranean

“When Cyprian Broodbank promises in the subtitle to this award-winning book that he will start “from the Beginning”, he should be taken at his word. Indeed, it is not until page 65, by which time we have reached the Miocene period (22 to 5m years ago), that something vaguely recognisable as the Mediterranean actually makes an appearance, although not all of its geographical features were in their proper place: “Crete, for example, broke off from Turkey some 9m years ago, carrying with it horses, deer and crocodiles, then disintegrated and foundered, before arising again, looking more like its modern self some 2-3m years ago.”

At this point, the Mediterranean functioned more as a barrier than a meeting point. It allowed the separate development of Neanderthals on the northern shore and Homo sapiens on the south. Broodbank is anxious to correct the impression of Neanderthals as ice-age specialists; he insists that they were cold-enduring, not cold-loving, creatures, and they enjoyed some prime Mediterranean real estate in caves at the foot of Gibraltar, along the coast of Croatia and on the Costa del Sol. They were soon mostly outbred, outeaten or indeed eaten by our ancestors. …”