Professor Stephen Haseler, a frequent personality on this website, launched his new book last Thursday, “Meltdown UK: there is another way”. He argued that the neo-liberal economic theory that lay behind the rapid expansion and financialisation of the global economy had been conclusively discredited by the financial crisis. There had been an explosion in private credit far in excess of the needs of the real economy, for which citizens and taxpayers who had not particularly benefited from the boom were now paying the price.
There was now a reaction away from neo-liberalism all around the world. In the absence of a global government to regulate the global financial system, protectionism was making a comeback. Whether or not you thought this was a good thing, it is a fact. Most visibly, the Chinese are holding down the value of their currency, but they are not the only ones. The massive recent devaluation of the pound sterling amounts to protectionism, as do the subsidies provided by the US government to the American car industry.
There is a stark and important lesson for Britain in all this. If protectionism is on the rise, as it is, then global markets are going to become less attractive as a future source of economic growth. Regional markets are, correspondingly, going to become more important. In the case of Britain, this means Europe and the European single market. The collapse of the global capitalist model makes Europe more important, not less.
You can buy Stephen Haseler’s book here.