Saturday, 2 June 2012

The "screw British exporters" campaign

From the Tim Harford blog:
The government could at least encourage everyone else to “buy British”.

An intriguing concept. But I don’t understand how this would support the British economy at all. Imagine the whole country collectively agreed not to buy fancy foreign muck unless it was at least 20 per cent cheaper than a comparable British product. Imports would surely take a beating. Assuming the rest of the world simply ignored our silly British ways and did not retaliate, exports would – at first – be unaffected.

Isn’t reducing imports exactly the desired effect?

But such an imbalance of exports and imports would not last. British exporters, flush with the foreign currency they had earned, would seek to spend it, or to find somebody else who wanted it. No one holding pounds would be terribly interested – everyone has, after all, agreed not to buy foreign products unless they are particularly cheap. The only way to get pounds in exchange for dollars, euros and yen would be to offer a premium.

In other words the value of the pound would have to rise.

Of course. And after it had risen a respectable amount, those foreign products would be cheap enough to buy again. Imports would recover.And exports would suffer from the stronger pound.They would and the eventual result would be that we would still buy some foreign products. To the extent that British domestic substitutes flourished, there would be an equal and opposite effect on British export industries.

So there’s no point in a “Buy British” campaign?

You might just as well run a “screw British exporters” campaign.
And rather obviously the logic applies to any country ..... including New Zealand.

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