Category Archives: Trade

The Opium Trade & The “Jacksonian” Depression of the 1830s

Here’s an exot­ic tale of trade, mon­ey sup­ply and finan­cial reces­sion from the days when sil­ver, not gold, was the numéraire and glob­al trade-finance mar­kets more inte­grat­ed than you might sup­pose. The back­sto­ry: In 1832 Pres. Andrew Jack­son, fac­ing re-elec­­tion, vetoed the re-char­ter­ing of the wide­­ly-branched, Repub­­li­­can-aligned Bank of the Unit­ed States, re-direc­t­ing US gov­ern­ment […]

The ‘next trading system’

A series of tweets prompt­ed by the emp­ty argu­ment and spe­cious results of the Decem­ber, 2017, WTO Min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing. Even­tu­al­ly, this must end. With what? Not, I hope, with rad­i­cal change: I sug­gest Chesterton’s Fence is the right approach to sys­tem redesign.   I argue for more humil­i­ty, par­si­mo­ny and dura­bil­i­ty in the sys­tem of […]

Free trade (not agreements) will make Britain great

To judge from most of the “pro­gres­sive” press and my Twit­ter feed, there is a great deal of ruin in Brex­it. I hear that Britain is so inte­grat­ed into the EU it will be root­less out­side. The UK, I’m told, will need to ‘rejoin’ the WTO after Brex­it. It has no trade agree­ments oth­er than […]

Trade blocs world

We will soon see the cre­ation of the first glob­al-scale trade-blocs: exclu­sive inter­na­tion­al trade zones. What will it be like? The short answer (if you want to stop read­ing here) is: the direct eco­nom­ic impact will be rather mod­est but the blocs will be a dis­as­ter for rules-based WTO trad­ing sys­tem. That could have much […]

The Wallenbergs at the ICC

Peter Wal­len­berg, the scion of the great Swedish fam­i­ly of bankers and indus­tri­al­ists, died on 19 Jan­u­ary aged 88. Among his many achieve­ments was to lead the Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce (ICC) dur­ing the most dif­fi­cult peri­od for busi­ness in the late 20th Cen­tu­ry. Here is a sum­ma­ry of the sto­ry. There’s a lit­tle more […]

Can multilateralism be revived?

Shawn Don­nan at the FT says that it needs a health­i­er life-style. Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism is weak­er than it has ever been. But, in trade, it has nev­er been as robust as it seemed on the sur­face. For now, I doubt there is a rea­son­able prospect it can be revived in its orig­i­nal form. Instead, we should […]

Is a plurilateral the ‘way out’ for WTO on agriculture?

Q: under what cir­cum­stances would a crit­i­­cal-mass (CM) pluri­lat­er­al agree­ment on agri­cul­ture be a way “out of the mess” in the WTO agri­cul­ture nego­ti­a­tions? A: any CM pluri­lat­er­al works as a “way out” of the WTO stale­mate where it offers a degree of ben­e­fits to the mem­bers of the pluri­lat­er­al agree­ment such that they were […]