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Coping with Shocks and Shifts: The Multilateral Trading System in Historical Perspective

In: Globalization in an Age of Crisis: Multilateral Economic Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century

  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Kevin H. O'Rourke

This paper provides a historical look at how the multilateral trading system has coped with the challenge of shocks and shifts. By shocks we mean sudden jolts to the world economy in the form of financial crises and deep recessions, or wars and political conflicts. By shifts we mean slow-moving, long-term changes in comparative advantage or shifts in the geopolitical equilibrium that force economies to undergo disruptive and potentially painful adjustments. We conclude that most shocks (financial crises and regional wars) have had relatively little effect on trade policy, but that shifts pose a greater challenge to the system of open, multilateral trade.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Robert C. Feenstra & Alan M. Taylor, 2013. "Globalization in an Age of Crisis: Multilateral Economic Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feen11-1.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12575.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12575
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Glick, Reuven & Taylor, Alan M., 2005. "Collateral Damage: Trade Disruption and the Economic Impact of War," CEPR Discussion Papers 5209, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Introduction to Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium
      [Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium]
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
    3. Markus Lampe, 2011. "Explaining nineteenth‐century bilateralism: economic and political determinants of the Cobden–Chevalier network," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 644-668, 05.
    4. Lampe, Markus, 2009. "Effects of Bilateralism and the MFN Clause on International Trade: Evidence for the Cobden-Chevalier Network, 1860-1875," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(04), pages 1012-1040, December.
    5. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp205, IIIS.
    6. O Rourke, Kevin H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2002. "When did globalisation begin?," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 23-50, April.
    7. Giovanni Maggi & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 1998. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 574-601, June.
    8. Lester, Simon, 2011. "The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy by Dani Rodrik New York: Norton, 2011," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(03), pages 409-417, July.
    9. Scheve, Kenneth F. & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2001. "What determines individual trade-policy preferences?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 267-292, August.
    10. Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 2009. "The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 15142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Mayda, Anna Maria & Rodrik, Dani, 2001. "Why are Some People (and Countries) More Protectionist than Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2960, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "The European Grain Invasion, 1870–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(04), pages 775-801, December.
    13. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Preface to Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium
      [Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium]
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
    14. Barry Eichengreen, 1992. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number eich92-1.
    15. Chad P. Bown, 2011. "The Great Recession and Import Protection : The Role of Temporary Trade Barriers," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 16359, December.
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