Free Trade and Freedom: Neoliberalism, Place, and Nation in the Caribbean

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Read identifies a number of sectoral issues. Although the author notes that some states in the Caribbean have been somewhat successful in improving growth rates and living standards, his opinion is that economic policymaking in general needs to be revamped. Clayton then suggests that developing countries implement strategies relating to competitive advantage and knowledge.

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He believes that competitive advantage requires a concentration of human capital, the dissemination of technology, a better managerial capacity, improvement in knowledge networks and business groups, the resolution of recurring new problems, and the ability to capitalize on opportunities. Regarding knowledge, he cites dependency theory, which recognizes knowledge not as a constant commodity, but rather as a vital combination of management information, technology, skills, and infrastructure necessary to keep up with changing demand.

Adopting the measures promoted by that theory, he suggests, would allow Caribbean countries to manage their economies better and engage in trade more effectively. According to the U. Census Bureau, Canada was the top exporter to America at the time Clayton authored this article. In it, the author provides a good introduction to Keynesian and monetary theories and how they apply to small-island economies.

He includes a table that illustrates how monetary policy affects the development of banks, puts limitations on investment, and influences lending reserves in small-island economies such as those in the Caribbean. Most other literature on the topic suggests that monetary policy in small Caribbean island countries tends to be ineffective, partially because of the necessary political and economic reliance on other countries. Their view is that neoliberal economic policies in the Caribbean countries have proven ineffective in the competitive world economy. As proof, they provide a table comparing manufacturing and agricultural sector GDP data among the Caribbean countries with analogous data from the rest of the world.

It would be interesting to compare current data with those from 11 years ago, when the table was created.

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What do the Caribbean nations stand to gain or lose by joining the Free Trade Areas of America agreement? Segree find that most Caribbean businesses would suffer by competing directly with the other North American countries. The authors believe that only resource-based industries, such as methanol in Trinidad and bauxite in Jamaica and Guyana, would likely succeed.

Consequently, the focus of their article is the tourism industry, which they feel offers the Caribbean economies a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, their conclusion is that joining the FTAA would likely lead to excessive dependence on the tourism sector alone, increasing the vulnerability of local economies and aggravating their dependence on imports. Although some economists argue that FTAA membership would reduce the cost of imports of consumer goods by decreasing tariffs, others maintain that lowering tariffs would diminish government revenues and lead to increased levels of capital outflow; in a number of Caribbean countries, trade taxes amount to 50 percent of the budget.

Implementation of the FTAA, some believe, would merely force these countries to find alternative ways to raise revenues. To their credit, the authors post their forecasts of the top job-creating countries in the Caribbean from to The forecasts, however, do not factor in how natural disasters, such as the Haitian earthquake, might have affected job creation.

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Salvaris provide a guide to a productive fiscal policy in the Bahamas given the constrained budget situation facing that nation. As Zucman writes, this is " long overdue. At any rate, this isn't the first time we've had this same debate. Indeed, as John Maynard Keynes wrote in a essay , for most of the 19th century free trade was also an object of gormless fetish worship, with similarly poor results.

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And as Spross points out, Warren has some distance to go to fully flesh out what to do regarding the dollar's status as reserve currency , which lets America run a continual trade deficit but also saps domestic production. But it's a strong start — if we just shake off the last remnants of neoliberal brain poisoning, we can figure out the rest of it. Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.

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