American Power, the New World Order and the Japanese by William R. Nester (auth.)

By William R. Nester (auth.)

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America's economic hegemony, however, was shordived - at most from World War II to perhaps the early 1970s. During that time Washington largely achieved its goals: it created and nurtured a range of institutional pillars of the global political economy, including the UN, GATT, IMF and World Bank; encouraged the growth of the European Community and transformed Japan into an economic superpower; convinced most developing countries to join the global economy; and through its containment policies prevented the Soviet empire from undermining the system.

1 T h e authors argue that although markets may reflect present efficiencies, they are unable to predict future products and industries, let alone which will be most profitable and dynamic. Of course, no one can predict the future with certainty, but it is obvious which future industries and products will he dynamic cores of an increasingly complex economy. T h e trouble is that the development costs of "strategic transformative industries" like microelectronics, superconductors, new materials, and biotechnology, to name a few, are beyond the means of even the largest corporations.

This attitude's grip on Washington policymakers is the biggest obstacle to any revival of American power. Paradoxically, liberal theory does allow states to protect "infant industries" until they have been nurtured into industries capable of competing in global markets. But "infant industry" protection raises many questions which liberal economists cannot answer. Should protection from the market's magic be extended to every new industry proposed by entreprenuers? If not, what new industries should a state protect?

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