Isolationism Watch: the Return of Mercantilism

Robert Samuelson warns that the connecting thread among several recent world economic develops is mercantilism:

Here’s today quiz. What do the following have in common: (a) Vladimir Putin; (b) China’s currency, the renminbi; (c) the U.S.-Peru trade agreement; and (d) Hugo Ch¿vez? Answer: They all reflect the “new mercantilism.” It’s an ominous development affecting the world economy. Even as countries become more economically interdependent, they’re also growing more nationalistic. They’re adopting policies intended to advance their own economic and political interests at other countries’ expense. As practiced until the mid-19th century, mercantilism aimed to do just that.

Will the new mercantilism lead to new tariffs or quotas being imposed by the world’s biggest economies? Stay tuned.

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