Globalization is a reality of modern life—and studies indicate the trend will continue. We conclude this course with a discussion about international trade and finance.

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Lesson: International Trade and Finance

Page Title:
Lesson Introduction
 
Page Number: 1
Globalization is a reality of modern life—and studies indicate the trend will continue. We conclude this course with a discussion about international trade and finance. Specifically, this lesson covers the actions that nation-states take to promote or discourage trade and examines the economic consequences of these and other actions.
Page Title: Menu Page

 

Page Number: 2
This lesson presents the following topics:

·

·         Markets and Trade

·         Protectionist Policies

·         How Exchange Rates Are Determined

·         The Global Financial System Today

Page Title: Markets and Trade

 

Page Number: 3
Let’s start with a discussion about the term “market.”

Think of a local “farmers’ market” where you can buy fresh produce. A market is an arrangement that allows buyers and sellers to exchange things. I’ll give you cash if you give me a bunch of carrots.

A market system facilitates the exchange of money and products.

Markets exist because individuals are not self-sufficient, but instead consume many products produced by others. I don’t grow carrots in my garden; therefore, I need to buy them at the market.

Page Title: Specialization and the Gains from Trade

 

Page Number: 4
Each of us specializes in producing just a few products and uses the market to exchange goods and services.

Why do we specialize?

Answer: Because output for society as a whole will increase if the task of producing something is assigned to the country or person who can produce greater quantities of the product more efficiently.

We can use the Principle of Opportunity Cost to explain the benefits from specialization and trade.

According to the Principle of Opportunity Cost, the opportunity cost of something is what you sacrifice to get it – what you give up.

In the case of specialization, the opportunity cost is measured by what we do notproduce because we are producing the good or service that we intend to sell or trade. For example, in the time it takes someone to perform routine maintenance on their car, they could instead mow their lawn and weed their garden. If that person specializes in performing car maintenance, he or she could probably make enough money working on one car to pay for lawn and garden care several times over.

Page Title: Absolute Versus Comparative Advantage

 

Page Number: 5
One of the main theories to explain why one country specializes in one product but not another is the Theory of Comparative Advantage. Let’s explore the theory using an example.

Consider the productivity table below. Who has the absolute advantage of producing more bread and items per hour?

Productivity Table

Bread per hourShirts per hour
Brenda62
Sam11

Of course it is Brenda.

Page Title: Absolute Versus Comparative Advantage (Cont’d)

 

Page Number: 6
Although Brenda does have the absolute advantage [A country’s ability to produce a good at a lower absolute cost than another country] over Sam, the decision about who should specialize in the production of one good or the other is based on comparative advantage [A country’s ability to produce a good at an opportunity cost that is lower than the opportunity cost of another country], not on absolute advantage.

Specialization is beneficial if there are differences in opportunity cost that generate a comparative advantage. With this in mind, let’s consider whether Brenda or Sam should specialize in the production of shirts.

Page Title: Opportunity Cost and Comparative Advantage

 

Page Number: 7
Production per Hour and Opportunity Cost

BrendaSam
Bread produced per hour61
Shirts produced per hour21
Opportunity cost of one loaf of bread1 shirt
Opportunity cost of one shirt3 loaves of bread1 load of bread
Page Title: Opportunity Cost and Comparative Advantage (Cont’d)

 

Page Number: 8
According to this table:

·         Brenda sacrifices 3 loaves of bread for each shirt she produces.

·         Sam sacrifices 1  loaf of bread for each shirt he produces.

With both of these factors in mind, who should specialize in the production of shirts? Brenda or Sam?

Answer: Sam should specialize in the production of shirts because he faces a lower opportunity cost in that activity.

Page Title: Check Your Understanding

 

Page Number: 9
For each statement given below, select the most appropriate answer option.

Statement 1: Comparative advantage is the ability of one person or nation to produce a good at an opportunity cost that is higher than the opportunity cost of another person or nation.

Answer Options:

·         True

·         False

The correct answer is: False

Page Title: Check Your Understanding (Cont’d)

 

Page Number: 10
Statement 2: Specialization is beneficial if there are differences in opportunity cost that generate a comparative advantage.

Answer Options:

·         True

·         False

The correct answer is: True

Page Title: Markets and International Trade

 

Page Number: 11
Exports are goods produced in this country and sold elsewhere.

Imports are goods produced elsewhere and sold in this country.

Trade among countries is based on the same principles of trade that function between individuals. Specialization based on comparative advantage results in gains for all participants. Smaller nations rely more on trade because they have fewer opportunities for specialization within their borders.

Page Title: Protectionist Policies

 

Page Number: 12
We have learned that countries can maximize their welfare by specializing. However, this assumes that there is free trade so they can freely sell goods in which the country specializes. In reality, many countries restrict imports through protectionist measures.

There are three common forms of protection that countries can institute when enacting a policy regarding international trade:

·         A quota: A quota is a limit on the amount of a good that can be imported.

·         A voluntary export restraint (VER): A voluntary restraint is where a nation voluntarily decreases its exports in an attempt to avoid more restrictive policies.

·         A tariff: A tariff is a tax on imported goods.

Additionally, there are other ways a nation can limit imports without an official trade barrier:

·         Strict enforcement of health and safety laws

·         Allowing a customs system to be inefficient and sluggish

Page Title: Effects of Trade Restrictions

 

Page Number: 13
We can illustrate the effects of trade restrictions with a simple supply and demand graph. Suppose that we plot shirts per day along the x axis and price per shirt (in dollars) along the y axis on the graph. Then we draw the curve for domestic demand for shirts. We also draw three different supply curves on the graph as follows:

·         The first supply curve depicts the total supply of shirts when there is free trade. Let’s assume that with free trade, the price of shirts is $12. This is the lowest supply curve on the graph.

·         The second supply curve depicts the effects of trade barriers (an import quota, tariff, or voluntary export restraints). In this case, there is still some trade, and let’s say that the price of shirts is $20. This is the middle supply curve on the graph.

·         The third supply curve represents a complete ban of imported shirts. With a total ban on imports, let’s say the price of shirts will be $23. This is the topmost supply curve on the graph.

Therefore, an import quota, a VER, or a tariff causes the total supply with free trade to shift to the left. The result is a lower quantity and higher price of the good in question to domestic consumers.

Domestic producers benefit from the trade restriction because they receive a higher price for their products.

Page Title: Rationales for Protectionist Policies

 

Page Number: 14

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