Implicit Mercantilism, Oligopoly, and Trade

Martin C. McGuire and Hiroshi Ohta, Review of International Economics 13(1), 165-184, February .


The authors propose a new model of trade between developing and advanced economies to capture the effects of important asymmetries in the organizations of their industries. This model demonstrates how the industrial structure of a developing economy can evolve to produce what the authors call “implicit mercantilism.” Free entry plus domestic oligopoly in a developing economy, when combined with competitive behavior in developed countries, generates several distinct stages of mercantilism hitherto unrecognized in the literature. Each stage has its own pattern of interaction with a competitive trading world. As the production costs and techniques of the mercantile society converge to world standards, its citizens will first lose from this progress, only later to gain. Both effects are due to certain relationships between home prices and world prices, newly identified in this paper. The analysis is particularly relevant to the structure of Asian economies, and to policy debates about their reform.

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