Detlev F. Vagts


Many legal practitioners and academicians who are sensitive to changes within the area of international business law have sighted signals of a trend toward greater ethnocentricity in the United States. Whether such a trend exists is not an issue that can be disposed of categorically, for the signals must be interpreted in light of the institution in question and the sector of economic activity involved. Moreover, an accurate resolution of the issue requires a comparison of the current signals with those of previous periods. Indeed, the post-Smoot-Hawley Tariff era of the late 1930's and the older mercantilist epoch were periods during which signals indicated strong tendencies toward beggar-my-neighbor policies. On the other hand, the post-World War II era associated with Bretton Woods issued signals that represented a swing toward the recognition of a need for internationally even-handed policies. Since the late 1960's, however, there have been an increasing number of signals which indicate that the United States may be about to return to a policy of economic self-sufficiency and independence.