Friday, October 27, 2023

Kenneth A. Reinert's "The Lure of Economic Nationalism"

Kenneth A. Reinert is Professor of Public Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government of George Mason University. He is the author of An Introduction to International Economics: New Perspectives on the World Economy (2012, 2020) and No Small Hope: Towards the Universal Provision of Basic Goods (2018).

Reinert applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Lure of Economic Nationalism: Beyond Zero Sum, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Lure of Economic Nationalism is the first page of a chapter entitled “The Brexit Blunder.” This is fortuitous because Brexit serves as an important test case for the thesis of the book, namely that economic nationalism tends to lead to worse economic outcomes. That has certainly been the case for Brexit as an increasing portion of the British population has come to realize.

Page 99 mentions the 1992 Maastricht Treaty establishing the European Union (EU) in which the United Kingdom was a founding member. Economic research has always shown that the UK’s membership in the EU has had significant benefits. Nonetheless, in January 2013, responding to a perceived rising tide of British opinion, Conservative UK Prime Minister David Cameron proposed a referendum on British membership in the European Union (EU). Cameron launched a years-long campaign that culminated in a June 2016 Brexit vote in which the British people voted to leave the EU. Prime Minister Cameron resigned with his political career in tatters.

Page 99 also mentions the populist movement known as Euroscepticism (with roots in the UK Independence Party), which launched the Brexit project. Euroscepticism is a populist political movement that pits “the people” against “the elites.” In this movement, “the people” are often defined in ethnonationalist terms, in the case of Brexit as the “real English.” This is important because many economic nationalist movements are, at the same time, ethnonationalist movements. Indeed, an entire chapter of The Lure of Economic Nationalism is devoted to ethnonationalism.

The path to Brexit was tortuous and is still evolving, but it became an official event with efforts of the past Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “get Brexit done.” It became a reality in 2021, but events since then have reinforced the warnings of economists and the business community that leaving the EU would be anti-growth and economically problematic. Unfortunately, the UK will be dealing with the fallout of this unfortunate decision for the foreseeable future.
Learn more about The Lure of Economic Nationalism at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: No Small Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue