John S. Odell, Understanding International Trade Policies

John S. Odell, Understanding International Trade Policies -...

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Understanding International Trade Policies: An Emerging Synthesis: John S. Odell Introduction: Good news: more unified theories that combine aspects of economic, political science, and history are slowly emerging in the area of international trade policy Will discuss four theoretical themes that emerged in mid to late-1980s: they emphasize: o Market conditions o Leaders’ values and beliefs o National political institutions o Global political-economic structures Each of these is prominent and has some theoretical value: but none have dominated the field and each one alone is not enough to be framework to unify trade policy knowledge Main argument: analysts increasingly avoid defending narrow traditional ideas as sufficient and are blending valuable insights from multiple perspectives: o Argument: more of this should be undertaken Common features of these theories: o More explanatory than prescriptive (although there is some advice) o Focus primarily on explaining national policies that affect imports o Central questions: located at national level of analysis(not international or regime) o Concentrate on the U.S. The Market Perspective: Argues: market conditions shape trade politics and policies Public choice analysts: depict politics as a process of exchanging among individuals who behave according to short-run personal self-interest: o Own market for protection o Governments: rational utility maximizers (sometimes unitary actors, other times self-interested individuals): o Interest groups: prominent players, concerned with what market conditions will drive their activities: Important theorists in the field: o Stephen P. Magee and Leslie Young: “Endogenous Protection in the United States, 1900-1984:” trade restrictions set by self-interested behavior of economic agents, lobbies, political parties, and voters Long-run protection should be explained by exogenous variables that drive the behavior of groups that favor and oppose protection o Robert Baldwin: “The Political Economy of U.S. Import Policy:” Initial premise: free trade is optimal Then introduces imperfections to account for protectionist policies Industrial Market Conditions: o Long-run changes in national markets: come from shifts in factor endowments o Medium and short-run: factors stay out of politics as long as the times are good o Market analyst: over time expects policy preferences to vary with the firm/industry’s position in world economy and its economic health o Important hypothesis: protection is a collective good for the industry seeking it o Not all empirical evidence supports these claims; however some basic ideas are supported by evidence Interdependence and Anti-Protection Pressure:
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Understanding International Trade Policies: An Emerging Synthesis: John S. Odell o Over long-term: U.S. companies been more dependent on exporting and foreign investment: in central influence in restraining contemporary U.S. trade policy o Helen Milner: “Resisting Protectionism:”
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