IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

International Economic Policy: Was There a Bush Doctrine?


  • Barry Eichengreen
  • Douglas A. Irwin


While many political scientists and diplomatic historians see the Bush presidency as a distinctive epoch in American foreign policy, we argue that there was no Bush Doctrine in foreign economic policy. The Bush administration sought to advance a free trade agenda but could not avoid the use of protectionist measures at home -- just like its predecessors. It foreswore bailouts of financially-distressed developing countries yet ultimately yielded to the perceived necessity of lending assistance -- just like its predecessors. Not unlike previous presidents, President Bush also maintained a stance of benign neglect toward the country's current account deficit. These continuities reflect long-standing structures and deeply embedded interests that the administration found impossible to resist. We see the next administration as having to address many of the same problems subject to the same constraints. The trade policy agenda will evolve slowly, with questions about the viability of multilateral liberalization under the WTO and the degree to which labor and environmental conditions can be included in trade agreements. Policy toward China will continue to confront difficult choices: even if it succeeds in pressuring the country to reduce its accumulation of dollar reserves, thereby easing the current account imbalance with the United States, this may only imply a more difficult market for U.S. Treasury debt and higher interest rates at home. Continuity will therefore remain the rule.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 2008. "International Economic Policy: Was There a Bush Doctrine?," NBER Working Papers 13831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13831
    Note: IFM ITI

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. C. Fred Bergsten, 1996. "Competitive Liberalization and Global Free Trade: A Vision for the Early 21st Century," Working Paper Series WP96-15, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. Marc Klau & San Sau Fung, 2006. "The new BIS effective exchange rate indices," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
    3. Bhagwati, Jagdish, 2008. "Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195331653.
    4. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2006. "Rebalancing Growth in China: A Three-Handed Approach," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 14(4), pages 1-20.
    5. Barry Eichengreen, 2003. "Restructuring Sovereign Debt," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 75-98, Fall.
    6. Arvind Panagariya & Jagdish Bhagwati, 1996. "The Economics of Preferential Trade Agreements," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 51856, September.
    7. Kenneth Rogoff & Jeronimo Zettelmeyer, 2002. "Early Ideas on Sovereign Bankruptcy Reorganization; A Survey," IMF Working Papers 02/57, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Michael Mussa, 2002. "Argentina and the Fund: From Triumph to Tragedy," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa67, February.
    9. Michael O. Moore, 1996. "The Rise and Fall of Big Steel's Influence on U.S. Trade Policy," NBER Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Trade Protection, pages 15-34 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13831. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.