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International Trade Comparative Critical Review
International Trade is a concept that is practised by each and every country in the world since all countries buy products from other countries and sell their local products abroad. As a result of this interactions, a country’s economy is significantly affected. For this reason it is a very important topic and every economist should have substantial knowledge about it and be aware of exactly how it works. This forms the basis of this comparative critical review. In this review, two books are compared i.e. textbook used in class and an online source titled “An Introduction to economics” by Kevin Bucknall which is specifically designed for GCE A-Level. The reason for this comparison is to showcase the superiority of the textbook used in class over the online acquired textbook. In this review, the chapter on international trade will be analysed and the strengths as well as limitation of these two books. This critical review compares these two sources in terms of their language, their content and their organization of the content. Doing this showcases that one can use various suitable information outlets to gain knowledge on a single subject and that it is preferable to use more than one source in order to avoid acquiring limited information form a single source.
International trade in the textbook is organized into the following categories: Absolute and Comparative Advantage, Benefits of Trade, Balance of Payments, and free trade. These broad subtopics are then subdivided further into smaller subheadings under each subtopic with brief or extensive explanations of what each subheading entails. This topic in the textbook is covered in twenty four pages. The textbook organization is such that it has illustrations, graphs and tables of practical illustrations which help the reader better grasp each concept that it covers. Bucknall’s book on the other hand handles the same topic under the following categories: An introduction to Globalization and protection, trade protection and trade liberalization, trading blocs and World Trade Organization, Balance of Payments, The European Monetary Union, Public Expenditure in the UK, Inward foreign investment by multinational corporations and External Shocks and the global economy (Hubbard, 2009). These broad subtopics are then subdivided further to smaller subheadings under each subtopic where a brief explanation of what each subheading entails. In this online source, this chapter is covered in thirty pages. The online source is organized in such a way that it also contains graphs, tables and charts of practical illustrations of each concept that it covers therefore enabling the reader to full understand the concepts and know exactly how they work in the real world (Peláez & Peláez, 2008). Looking at the organization of each book, the textbook is better organized since its subtopics are systematically arranged, one leading to another and building on the previous concept. The end result is such that, everything ultimately weaves together and forms a well-organized and easily understandable text. The online source while neatly organized, is not systematic, the subtopics do not follow each other systematically which can lead to confusion on the part of the reader especially if one does not have any economic knowledge and is reading economic terms for the first time. With all this in mind, in terms of organization of the content, the textbook is superior to the online source.
In terms of content, the textbook broadly covers the concept of absolute and comparative advantage. It clearly defines what absolute advantage is going as far as offering the reader with a practical illustration, however, it does not offer the reader with a clear definition of what comparative advantage is. Bucknall’s book on the other hand specifically defines comparative advantage but fails to cover anything on absolute advantage. With regards to the benefits of international trade, the textbook outlines that the most important benefit of trade is that trade can enable more output in the world since countries specialize in production of products where they have a comparative advantage. However it only covers a single gain from international trade which is insufficient since there are several different benefits of international trade like creation of employment, utilization of surplus produce, reduction of trade fluctuations and greater variety of goods available for consumption. Bucknall’s book on the other hand covers several benefits of trade briefly. He lists the gains from trade as: increases globalization; gain of greater variety of goods available for consumption; a country acquires what it doesn’t have; increases a country’s income, improves standards of living; leads to better allocation of resources nationally and globally; and fosters economic growth (International Conference on Micro and Macro Economics, 2011). However, this source simply lists these advantages of international trade and does not attempt to explain to the reader how they work.
With regards to balance of payments, the textbook talks about what the balance of payment comprises of which is the Current Account, Capital Account and Financial Account. However, it only focuses on current account and ways of remedying a current account deficit using any of the following ways: using demand-switching policies; using supply-side policies; allowing the exchange rate to fall; and using demand dampening policies. Bucknall’s book on the other hand broadly covers the balance of payment concept including its relationship with exchange rate i.e. floating rates, fixed rates, and managed rates. He goes ahead to extensively cover the remedies of a current account deficit mentioned in the textbook. However, it focuses on the current account and doesn’t even briefly mention the capital and financial accounts. When it comes to free trade, the textbook focuses on the European Union as a custom union that practices free trade but fails to cover a broad description of WTO which is a key player in promotion of free trade. Bucknall’s book with regards to this concept focuses more on the WTO than EU and analyses WTO’s contribution to promotion of free trade. Looking at the content analysed above of both books, using the textbook is better since it focuses more on the major concepts of international trade and does so more extensively than the online source.
In terms of language, the textbook uses simple yet elegant language making sure that the reader understands without difficulty exactly what the writer means and intends to convey. Reading the textbook, one does not come across any hard vocabulary and if the writer mentions a new or unfamiliar economic term he goes ahead and explains exactly what it means. For every subtopic covered in the textbook, there is a topic sentence followed by supporting sentences explaining what the topic sentence means, and finally concludes with a concluding sentence which sums up what has been covered in the subtopic. For instance, under absolute and comparative advantage, the writer starts of by asserting that international trade only occurs due to these two concepts and then goes ahead to explain to the reader what these two concepts are going a step further and providing practical illustrations on each concept. Finally, the writer concludes that comparative advantage is the concept at the heart of international trade (Hayward, 1995).
Bucknall’s book on the other hand has no clear topic sentences in his topics and sometimes has no supporting sentences and no conclusion either. This leads to the language of the book being rather confusing to the reader which may lead to poor understanding of the text. Simply listing a concept is not enough for a reader to know exactly what it means, there needs to be a clear structure of language in form of sentence and paragraph structure in order to convey exactly what the writer intends the reader to understand (Hrivastava,, 2013). With regards to language, it is clear that the textbook is once again superior compared to the online source.
From the above analysis, it is clear that the textbook is better in terms of organization, language and content. The textbook uses simple language that easily understandable by anyone who understands English, it has extensive content of the various concepts of international trade and finally, it is organized in a systematic manner which makes it easier to understand international trade in its entirety. Therefore, reading the textbook would be able to give the reader a broad and clear understanding of exactly what international trade is and how it works. The textbook would especially be beneficial to anyone who has no command of the economics world since it explains these terms and concepts in a simple and understandable manner
Reference List.
Bucknall Kevin, n.d. An Introduction to Economics: Economic Note for the GCE A-Level in the UK. Available from
Hayward, D. J. (1995). International trade and regional economies: The impacts of European integration on the United States. Boulder, U.S.A., Harper Collins.
Hrivastava, O. S. (2013). Modern managerial economics: Including micro and macro economics. New Delhi, Anmol Publications.
Hubbard, R. G. (2009). Macro-economics. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W., Pearson Prentice Hall.
International Conference on Micro and Macro Economics. (2011). Annual International Conference on Micro & Macro-economics. Singapore, Global Science & Technology Forum.
Peláez, C. M., & Peláez, C. A. (2008). Government Intervention in Globalization: Regulation, Trade and Devaluation Wars. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.