Book Review: A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein.
This book starts off as a relatively ordinary history book, then toward the end offers a moderate number of valuable insights. Those insights don’t appear to be original, but he performs a valuable service by drawing attention to ideas that aren’t as widely known as they should be.
He argues that the Boston Tea Party was intended to keep tea prices high, and instigated by the merchants who were threatened by increased competition, using the much of the same rhetoric that modern protectionists use.
He describes a strong connection between a decrease in the price of mailing a letter and the ability of people of ordinary wealth to organize opposition to the Corn Laws.
He has an interesting argument that the benefits of international trade is the resulting desire for peace between people who have business relationships with each other, rather than the more obvious but apparently small benefits that are more direct. I wish there were stronger evidence that trade generates peace.
He makes a moderate number of claims that seem poorly thought out. E.g. “a national or central bank” is “the bedrock financial institution of the modern world”.