Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

The Blurry Frontiers of Economic Policy

Economic policies are set at the national level, where officials seek to benefit the domestic economy. But these policies are increasingly affecting other economies and the global system, giving rise to what might be called “policy externalities” – consequences that extend outside policymakers’ target environment.

MILAN – Around the world, policies, technologies, and extended learning processes have combined to erode barriers to economic interaction among countries. Pick any indicator: trade relative to global GDP, capital flows relative to the global capital stock, and so forth – all are rising.

But economic policies are set at the national level, and, with a few notable exceptions like trade negotiations and the tracking of terrorist funding and money laundering, policymakers set goals with a view to benefiting the domestic economy. And these policies (or policy shifts) are increasingly affecting other economies and the global system, giving rise to what might be called “policy externalities” – that is, consequences that extend outside policymakers’ target environment.

Of course, such externalities have always existed. But they used to be small. As they grow more significant (the result of greater global connectedness), they inevitably become harder to manage. After all, global optimization would require a global policymaking authority, which we do not have.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/xN1X6RX;
  1. wei22_FABRICE COFFRINIAFP via Getty Images_WTOredlight Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

    How to Revive the WTO

    Shang-Jin Wei & Xinding Yu

    The World Trade Organization’s appellate body is under threat not from China, but from the United States, which is blocking the appointment of new judges to the panel. Reviving the WTO will require changes to the organization's rules – but killing its dispute-settlement system is not the solution.

    0
  2. ghosh16_Yawar NazirGetty Images_indiakashmirmuslimwoman Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

    The Rape of India’s Soul

    Jayati Ghosh

    India’s rapid descent into xenophobia, violence, and irrationality has an important economic dimension, but it takes politicians to channel these emotions into nationalism, and to embolden the nationalists to commit violence. Now that the BJP has done so, is it able – or willing – to exorcise the many demons it has unleashed?

    9