The topic of "free trade" is more dense and complex than is usually presented in political debate or in the slogans or bumper stickers that these days often suffice for political discourse. Douglas A. Irwin, a professor of business at the University of Chicago, helps add depth to the discussion with this sweeping study of the business of trade between nations. He begins with Adam Smith
's Wealth of Nations
and carries through to some of history's greatest thinkers on the topic of free trade. He shows "how free trade came to occupy ... a commanding position in economics and how free trade has maintained its intellectual strength ... over the past two centuries." It is a timely and needed book.
From Publishers Weekly
Few economic debates have raised more emotion over the last two centuries than that between the champions of free trade and the advocates of protectionism. Irwin chronicles this controversy in great detail from the demise of mercantilism in the 17th century and the beginnings of free-trade ideology with Adam Smith to the present. As Free Trade was an essentially British invention, most of the book's cast of characters are of that nationality, Irwin also traces the thinking of John Maynard Keynes, who, after being an ardent advocate of free trade, went through a reversal to become a supporter of protectionism. "Free trade, combined with great mobility of wage rates, is a tenable intellectual position," he wrote, but "it presents a problem of justice so long as many types of money [wages] income are protected by contract and cannot be made mobile." The debate is still very much alive today?from EEC to NAFTA, to the campaign rhetoric in this year's presidential primaries. Although Irwin takes an historical approach, he clearly a supporter of free trade. Irwin is a professor of Business Economics at the and is affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, both of which are bastions of supply-side theory, which is free trade in its purest form. The book will be most readable for those with more than a passing knowledge of economics.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.