Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book Review: "Does North America Exist?"

I checked a book out from my school's library by a Canadian economist Stephen Clarkson "Does North America Exist?" which analyzed the impacts of NAFTA up to 2008 when the book was written and various impacts seen by the three nations involved.

I read this in what has become my usual way where I don't read every word but do more of a Cosby Method type of reading which allows me to read the book much faster while still learning what the book has to say. I find this easiest with physical books which is why I still read physical books along with the electronic copies which I find to be harder to read quickly than a paper copy. I highly recommend the Cosby Method.

The first big compliment I have for the author is he did a superb way of academically laying out his book so that people can easily answer any question they have within his topic. The other glowing point is the 80 pages of references he uses which is very professional.

One main argument is how NAFTA has a power imbalance given how the United States has the 1/4 of the population and over 80% of the economy in the agreement. This means that there is a reduction in the decisions Mexico and Canada can make unilaterally when it comes to decisions effecting all the involved nations. There are solutions for this, with a court system with NAFTA and other actions which would balance out the power dynamics of the free trade area.

The book discusses how NAFTA effects agriculture and textiles which are the two most controversial industries effected by NAFTA. It lays out the statistics on the arguments downplaying most misconceptions on both sides of the aisle. It really makes it clear that NAFTA was neither an absolute bust to the economy or a cure-all for all the economies woes.

Banks are a non-issue more or less in NAFTA since there is no real central organization dealing with transborder banking, and the book lays out details. Other issues include capital markets and copyright law. I highly recommend the detailed descriptions on these issues.

In general, those are the basic arguments the book makes, and the data behind it makes them more or less irrefutable. I have learned a good bit from this book.

ISBN: 978-0-8020-9653-1

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