Brexit

Kevin O’Rourke’s ‘A Short History of Brexit’ provides an excellent introduction to the British muddle, but does not resolve it.

Brexit is a comedy by Samuel Beckett about suicide. However it seems to involve a numberless (and numbing) number of acts. If you have arrived at the theatre late, you may not do better than catchup by reading A Short History of Brexit: From Brexit to Backstop by Kevin O’Rourke.

The theories one uses needs to be explicit, especially when the issue is as complicated as Brexit or Trump.

Two of my intellectual mentors, Maynard Keynes and Karl Popper, give broadly the same advice. Be aware that you are using theories; be sensitive to their assumptions, to their limitations. Very often our public discussions involve no awareness of the underlying theoretical constructs, let alone their weaknesses (as well as their strengths).

The Way the Voting is Organised Matters Too.

In 2004 I had the privilege of a Fulbright Visiting Professorial Fellowship to the US to further my studies on globalisation. Because an early stage of international integration is regional integration, I was interested in America. It is not only an economic story but a political one, so I spent some of my time looking at the development of the US constitution.

Brexit illustrates the challenges of economic independence and interdependence.

Over the next week the British Parliament debates the terms for Brexit or not. There is no point in my trying to guess what might happen. There are many opinions and they all contradict one another; probably all will be wrong.

The consequences of Britain leaving the EU have exposed the complexity of one country’s economic relations with its partners.

I have found Brexit rivetting. As a piece of Econ 101, it is straight forward. (OK, I simplify; it is rare for first year students to study in any depth the implications of intra-industry trade, supply chains, the economies of scale and of agglomeration in international trade.)  But first year economics courses teach little about institutional underpinnings.