250 words each for initial post
and 3 replies for each Discussion
Week 2. Arguments within the EU
The EU, along with NAFTA (or its current incarnation, the USCMA, “NAFTA 2.0”), are two examples of attempts to reduce or eliminate tariffs between nations, with the inefficiency and uncertainty they can bring. They are different, of course, not only in including different countries. But one is a Free Trade Area (that’s what the ‘FTA’ in NAFTA stands for) and the other a Customs Union (that’s why it’s the U the EU). You should familiarize yourself with the differences.
Both have faced crises in recent years, driven often by the dissatisfaction of working-class voters in the richer countries. Discuss some of the problems in the EU, making reference to some of the models we’ve discussed in class.
Week 4. Currency Crises
One of the most painful ways for a country to experience the risks of the international monetary system is to have a full-blown currency crises. This usually takes the form of fears of devaluation, panicked selling of the country’s currency, ultimate devaluation, followed by a prolonged period of ‘austerity’ brought by higher taxes, higher interest rates, and lower government spending.
There have been many such crises since the 1990s: Britain, Mexico (early 1990s); Brazil, Russia, Thailand (late 1990s), Argentina (early 2000s), Iceland (late 2000s), Venezuela (late 2010s). But a currency devaluation, while painful, is often a great help to a country’s rapid recovery — the cases of Argentina and Iceland are relevant here.Pick on currency crisis over the last 30 years or so and discuss with reference to the models we’ve covered in class.
Week 6. The Panama/Pandora Papers, and International Tax Avoidance/Evasion
Panama was formed in 1903 as a breakaway from Columbia, supported by the US in order to ensure its control of the Panama Canal, completed in 1914. Until 1970 the US held sovereignty over the Canal “zone,” but Panama remains a virtual colony of the US.
Along with several smaller Caribbean nations like Bermuda, Curacao, and the Cayman Islands,, Panama today is a center for “offshore banking.” But in some ways, it is among the strongest and most independent of these, as its revenues from the Canal make it less subject to foreign pressure for transparency. Consider the leaking of the “Panama Papers” and later “Pandora Papers” and what they say about international tax avoidance and evasion. Use the concepts we have developed in class.
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