Economic nationalism, it is argued, will tip the world into a Great Depression, just as America’s Smoot-Hawley Act did 79 years ago. This is a horrifying but, frankly, also a distant prospect. The disaggregation of global supply chains, the source of the huge efficiencies that companies pass on to consumers, will not be easily undone.
Maybe so… But Willem Buiter is much less sanguine:
We can go down in history as the generation that created the Great Depression of the Noughties. Just keep on beating the protectionist drums. Keep on the footdragging that prevents effective qualitative and quantitative monetary policy easing in the Eurozone and the UK. And go ahead with unsustainable fiscal stimuli in the US, the UK and elsewhere that will spook markets, push up long-term interest rates and raise the spectre of sovereign default by countries not belonging to the group of usual suspects. Yes we can! I hope we won’t.