Effective Crisis Response and Openness: Implications for the Trading System

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The world has now faced the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Governments have responded to the crisis with many initiatives, often with implications for the openness of their national economies to global markets. While the primary objectives have been to support demand and thus economic activity and employment, recognition of cross-border spillovers has led to calls for international cooperation and to refrain from beggar-thy-neighbour measures. Arguably these calls have been heard. Efforts have been made to coordinate policy responses, through the G20 and other fora. As recovery becomes an ever greater prospect in late 2009, the question arises as to whether current, primarily non-binding inter-governmental cooperation will be sustained. Protectionist pressures may increase as trade recovers, imports into markets expand, and job growth still lags. Also, many governments are left with little margin for manoeuvre in fiscal and monetary policy, and in the event of an economic relapse, trade and industrial policies threaten to become the default stop-gap. The purpose of this book is to examine the ways in which the existing manifestations of openness, including binding international accords, have constrained or enhanced the options available to national policymakers during the crisis and influenced the degree, and potentially even the effectiveness, of cross-border cooperation. By examining state responses during the crisis in a number of distinct policy domains, the different chapters reveal potential complementarities and tensions as governments seek to tackle sharp national recessions while being mindful of the growing role that the international dimension has played in influencing national economies in an era of globalization.