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EconDebates Online

EconDebates Online keeps you informed on today's most crucial economics policy debates. Each EconDebate, created by John Kane (SUNY-Oswego), provides a primer on the issues and links to background information and current, in-depth commentaries from experts around the world. Review the brief introductions and, for EconDebates of interest, select the full debate.

International Trade



Are Economic Sanctions Effective in Altering a Country's Actions?

Full Debate 

Economic sanctions have often been used by the U.S. and other countries in attempts to alter the behavior of the target countries. These sanctions typically include general or selective trade embargoes, restrictions on foreign investment, and restriction on travel to and from the affected country.

Does the anti-sweatshop movement help or harm workers in low-wage economies?

Full Debate 

The anti-sweatshop movement in the U.S. and other industrialized economies has, in recent years, attempted to use consumer boycotts to eliminate sweatshop working conditions and child labor in less developed economies. Unions and college student groups have been leading the drive for sweatshop boycotts.

What are the pros and cons of IMF involvement with global economies?

Full Debate 

A new international monetary system was adopted as a result of the Bretton Woods conference of 1944. Under this new monetary system, the value of the U.S. dollar was fixed in terms of gold and all other currencies were assigned exchange values in terms of either gold or the U.S. dollar. The U.S. agreed to maintain the value of the dollar at $35 per ounce of gold; other countries agreed to maintain the exchange value of their currencies within one percent of the target exchange rates. Under this system, countries could alter their exchange rates only with the consent of the other IMF members.

Does the U.S. economy benefit from the WTO?

Full Debate 

One of the basic issues at the heart of the WTO controversy is whether free international trade benefits or harms the U.S. economy. This issue is already examined in an online debate on "foreign trade." The focus of the current debate is on the more narrow topic of whether our participation in the WTO benefits the U.S. economy.

Does globalization require a change in antitrust policy?

Full Debate 

Much of the current debate on the effect of globalization and antitrust involves the question of whether standardized antitrust laws should be adopted in all countries. More standardization would provide firms with lower transaction costs and a more predictable environment, but would reduce national autonomy in establishing antitrust policies.

Does the U.S. economy benefit from foreign trade?

Full Debate

Virtually all economists argue that free international trade increases the total consumption possibilities for all trading partners. A simple analogy is often suggested between international trade and trade among individuals in an economy. Suppose that each individual in an economy tries to produce all of the goods that he or she consumes. Since each individual is not likely to be very adept at all of the tasks that must be performed to achieve even a subsistence level of income, an economy in which no specialization and trade occurs would be an extremely poor economy. As Adam Smith noted in The Wealth of Nations, total output increases in an economy as a result of specialization and division of labor. It is argued that countries gain in a similar manner as a result of international specialization and division of labor.

Will the European Monetary Union succeed?

Full Debate

Most of the countries in Europe are participating in a bold economic experiment in which national currencies will be replaced by a common currency (called the Euro) by the year 2002. In May 1998, decisions were made on which countries were eligible for participation in the European Monetary Union. A European Central Bank was created in 1998 that is charged with coordinating monetary policy for the EU. Since January 1, 1999, the Euro has been used for all foreign exchange operations in the participating countries. Euro banknotes and coins will begin to circulate on January 1, 2002 and will completely replace national currencies by July 1, 2002 (existing national currencies will cease to be legal tender in the participating countries on or before this date).

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