Chapter 20Trade Networks and Optimal Consumption

Robert J. Downes and Robert G. Levy

20.1 Introduction

This chapter is concerned with the notion of rebalancing the economy of a nation, that is, altering the consumption pattern of an economy for the purposes of economic growth.

From an economic perspective, sectoral rebalancing at a national level is a challenging task: the structure of any economy is extremely complicated, and dynamical changes are hard to predict with certainty (Ball, 2012). Different economic sectors are inextricably linked, and any change will have a broad impact (Miller and Blair, 2009). Beyond the myriad political difficulties (Frieden, 2009, 2010), the specifics of such a sectoral rebalancing are unclear (Yeo and Zedillo, 2010). Furthermore, the economy of any one country is integrated with those of other countries: import and export partners, regional political groupings and ethno-social relationships all contribute to this mutual dependence. Taking account of global integration is essential in any discussion of designed change or rebalance via policy intervention (Levy et al., 2016). Discussion of policy intervention to achieve rebalancing has become common in British politics, despite the latitude of meaning inherent in the term (Froud et al., 2011). In an editorial in early 2013, the Financial Times 2013 addressed the British Government's proposed economic and industrial strategy in light of the recent ‘Great Recession’:

Ministers think the state's ...

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