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Full Employment and Free Trade: An Historical Episode of Australian Intellectual Leadership


  • Sean Turnell

    () (Department of Economics, Macquarie University)


In the 1940s Australian economists sought an international agreement that would bind countries to the pursuit of full employment. Seen by them as a necessary prerequisite to agreements on monetary and commercial policy, this 'employment approach' was advanced with a 'crusading zeal' before the great international conferences concerned with postwar reconstruction. Sometimes regarded as Australian posturing, the employment approach was based on a sound understanding of contemporary economic theory. The purpose of this paper is to reappraise the employment approach in terms of this theory. It concludes that the Australian economists were correct in their advocacy, and their actions a timely reminder of a period when Australia sought to positively engage the international community.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean Turnell, 2001. "Full Employment and Free Trade: An Historical Episode of Australian Intellectual Leadership," Research Papers 0102, Macquarie University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mac:wpaper:0102

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    JEL classification:

    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance


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