Mule Spinning...1st January 1909: A young boy mule spinning at Jones's Cotton Mill, Manchester. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
A cotton mill in Manchester in 1909. The 19th century economist David Ricardo argued in favour of trade liberalisation according to the theory of comparative advantage © Getty

A key part of final year Economics is being able to clearly evaluate the benefits of free trade. This article looks at how regulation harmony may matter more than tariffs for modern trading economies. Read it here:

Brexit free-trade illusions from the 19th century

  • What would be the impact on UK farming of a ‘flood of cheap imports’? Could there be wider economic consequences?
  • Can you produce Ricardo’s argument using a PPF diagram to show mutual gains from trade?
  • Can you explain how regulations provide a limit to the benefits that may occur from reducing trade tariffs?
  • The word ‘fungible’ is used, meaning “replaceable by another identical item; mutually interchangeable”, for example one new £1 coin for another. Do you agree that it is ‘absurd’ that labour is fungible? If so, why?

Chris Webb, City of London School for Boys

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