Peter Drucker on protectionism

Peter Drucker, who remains the “consultant’s consultant” shows his form in his article The Evolution of Protectionism in National Interest, arguing that the United States is no longer the single dominant economy in a world where blocking imports no longer can protect home industries, since prices are set in worldwide markets where information is freely available. Protectionism has evolved from tariffs to export subsidies and bureaucracy – especially on agriculture. And regulatory bodies, especially national ones, matter less since multinational companies increasingly are small and outside the realms of economic statistics. Excerpt:

We have almost no data on the world economy of the multinationals. Our statistics are primarily domestic. Nor do we truly understand the multinational and how it is being managed. How, for instance, does a multinational pharmaceutical company decide in what country first to introduce a new drug? How does a medium-sized multinational, like the German surgical-instrument maker mentioned earlier, decide whether to keep importing into the United States? To buy a small American competitor who has become available? To build its own plant in the United States and to start manufacturing there? Our dominant economic theories–both Keynes and Friedman’s monetarism–assume that any but the smallest national economy can be managed in isolation from world economy and world society. With an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. workforce affected by foreign trade (and a much higher percentage in most European countries), this is patently absurd. But an economic theory of the world economy exists so far only in fragments. It is badly needed. In the meantime, however, the world economy of multinationals has become a truly global one, rather than one dominated by America and by U.S. companies.
He finishes by painting a picture of an (as it seems to me, at least, global) “new mercantilism” increasingly influenced by the E.U. and its standards and regulations, adopted as free market alternative to the US-dominated NAFTA.
(Via Marginal Revolution)

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