Putin – whose name I use here as shorthand for the entire oligarchy of not just Russia but all major fossil fuel exporters – wants to prevent the emergence of international institutions which would be able to bring climate change under control. That is because the control of climate change would require destroying the oil and gas business, and with it his wealth and power.
To this end, two of the central objectives of the oil oligarchs have been the installation of a US government which is hostile to international cooperation in general and cooperation on climate in particular; and the fragmentation of the European Union. Trump, and Brexit; more broadly, a science-denying Republican party, and resurgent nationalism in every European country and region.
Even soft Brexit will be enough for Putin
I will explain below why these two political objectives, in the US and in the EU, are necessary – and, unfortunately, probably sufficient – for Putin’s ends. But first let me just say that, for Putin’s purposes, any Brexit will do, Hard, No Deal … or the softest of soft, as long as Britain withdraws from the political institutions of the EU. Continue reading →
Regional economic integration is something usually associated with international trade blocs – the European Union, ASEAN, and so forth. But two of the most important cases aren’t international – they are happening within India and China. Both countries are more populous than any international “region” (excluding of course regional groupings which include either India or China), and both have had very poorly integrated national markets, for reasons to do both with internal transport infrastructure, and the protection of sub-national markets by various means.
Global economic integration – quick, and institutionally shallow – is the hare; regional integration is the tortoise.
If your view of international trade is framed by the dichotomy of protected national markets vs. global free trade, then bi-lateral trade agreements and regional trade blocs look pretty much alike: an in-between situtation involving liberalization of trade within small (two or more) groups of countries, beyond whatever has been agreed at the global (WTO) level. Standard trade theory evaluates both by weighing trade creation (within the group) against trade diversion (trade that other countries would have had with members of the group, had the bi-lateral or regional agreement not gone into effect).
The UWI-CARICOM Institutional Relations Project announces the launch of The Integrationist Quarterly (IQ). The magazine will be offered on-line as well as in hard copy. It will dedicate space to accommodating the perspectives of the youth of the Caribbean Community and the diaspora on a range of development and integration issues; providing a forum for expression of thoughts and ideas on issues of interest to the 21st century generation of Caribbean youth…
Economic crisis brings public works programs, which are often slated as protectionist. A public works program (albeit not a “shovel-ready” one) that might seem to be exempt from this criticism is the proposed low-altitude (i.e., all-weather) rail link between Argentina and Chile, subject of a recent a memorandum of understanding between the two governments (h/t Tyler Bridges, McClatchy). And it is certainly true that such a link would facilitate Chilean trade across the Atlantic and Argentinian trade across the Pacific. The more important consequence, however, would be to facilitate regional integration within South America. In keeping with the Pacific-facing orientation imposed by the Andes, Chile is an associate (i.e., peripheral) member of Mercosur; Argentina is a full member, along with Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The new rail link would bring Chile closer to the fold.
Those worrying about protectionist responses to the crisis most often invoke the example of rising tariffs in the early 1930s. A better parallel would be the end the tariff barriers that went up around the world in the 1870s and 1880s. Those new barriers ended what had been a sort of golden age of free trade, especially within Europe. And yet, the states that built new fences after 1870 were far different from those that had torn them down ca. 1850. Continue reading →