Wednesday, October 1, 2008

William J. Bernstein's "A Splendid Exchange"

Bernstein's book is a thoroughly enjoyable stroll through the history of trade. I enjoyed the historical tidbits as well as the broad strokes of history.

The book ends with a chapter on the current economic/financial situation, i.e. the struggles over free trade and the growing income inequality. Bernstein offers no crystal ball into the future, but he makes it clear that trade is the basis of a healthy growing world economy and that the failure of wages for the lower 80% in the advanced world is undermining the good news story of growing trade and integration. Reading the historical chapters helps you understand how trade is good, but it also shows that history is no arrow. Periods of collapse and decay are very likely. Hopefully the present is not such a period.

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