Nye on Wine and Trade
| Peter Klein |
John Nye is a very interesting economic historian. I still remember his fiery (and controversial) talk at the inaugural ISNIE conference in 1997, in which he urged new institutional economists to separate themselves from their brothers and sisters in mainstream economics. (Other participants, such as Paul Joskow, thought this was a bad idea.)
John’s new book, War, Wine, and Taxes: The Political Economy of Anglo-French Trade, 1689-1900 (Princeton, 2007) argues that Britain was not, contrary to popular perception, devoted to free trade after the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. The British retained high tariffs on French wine, among other goods, leading to substantial welfare losses among Britons.
Here is a review on EH.Net and here is an interview with Nye. This short article provides an overview of his thesis. An earlier article on the same theme was challenged by Doug Irwin (author of this great book), who argued that Nye’s primary measure of protectionism — various ratios of tariff revenues relative to the value of imports — does not capture actual trade policies very well.
Speaking of wine, my colleague Mike Sykuta has some interesting papers on restrictions on wine shipments between US states. Here’s an academic paper and here’s a shorter version from Regulation magazine.