Looking Back

As China and India Make Their Impact on the World Economy, William Keegan Fears a Return to Protectionism
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If last year our theme was that ‘nationalism is back in fashion’, the most marked development since then on the economic front has been something traditionally associated with nationalism: the rise of protectionist sentiment in some of the major economies, and with it a feeling of insecurity which leads nations to move away from the ‘multilateralist’ ideals of the post-Second World War period towards nationalist strategies, bilateral trade deals and economic decisions based on strategic considerations.

This is a far cry from the perhaps naive triumphalism that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Notwithstanding the ‘irrational exuberance’ (in former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s famous phrase) that led to the Dot.Com boom, and its subsequent collapse, the 1990s and early years of the new millennium were characterized by a widely shared sense (on the part of both proponents and opponents) that neo-liberal economies had...

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