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Small Economies in the Face of Globalization

Third William G. Demas Memorial Lecture at the Caribbean Development Bank
Delivered by José Antonio Ocampo,
Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
Cayman Islands, 14 May 2002

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Globalisation certainly poses new questions as to the relation between size and development. On the one hand, globalisation is making all countries smaller relative to the relevant (world) market. By reducing the transaction costs associated with distance, new technologies have reinforced this process. The relative importance of large national markets has thus declined, and even larger economies are increasingly dependent on external conditions. This is also true in terms of macroeconomic variables, as capital mobility has reduced the effective autonomy that macroeconomic authorities enjoy even in large economies.

But size has certainly not become an irrelevant factor in the current phase of globalisation. In this regard, it can be argued that small economies have both advantages and disadvantages, in particular disadvantages relating to economies of scale, less diversification and macroeconomic policy autonomy, but also –at least potential— sociological and political advantages in achieving greater social cohesion. The latter is important because these factors are generally recognised as important determinants of the investment climate and economic growth.

This lecture will explore the relevance of these factors both at a conceptual and at the empirical level, focusing on the Caribbean economies. Section I will take a look at the relationships between country size, specialisation and growth. Section II explores the effects of vulnerability to external shocks and limited macroeconomic autonomy. Section III examines implications for national, regional and global policies.

Small Economies in the face of Globalization

Revista INTER-FORUM is affiliated with (ICCAP)

Any reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the authors written authorization  


May 27, 2002


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