Traditionally, we take a nationalist view of our economy. Our politics and economics are wedded in the political economy of the nation state and the nationalist economic policies. This “nationalist paradigm” is, however, showing signs of fatigue: The role of the nation state is diminishing as the economy globalizes; our national accounting systems are less effective, technology forces change; trading blocs are emerging; there is less control of exchange rates; regional economies are restructuring; and competitive environments are changing. This book poses that political jurisdictions are not economies but polities, and explores the complex and important economic implications of this thesis. In reality, metropolitan-centered economic regions are the basic economic units and the building blocks of the U.S. economy. The linked, interdependent system of local economic regions form the U.S. Common Market, which in turn thrives within a global context of mutuality and interdependence. William R. Barnes and Larry C. Ledebur's paradigm shift from the “nation as the economy” to the “national system of local economic regions” changes the framework in which we think about governance and policy and puts this book at the forefront of U.S. economic thought.

The Economic Region

The economic region

Two themes emerge. First, economic paradigms are not timeless or unchanging. Nor are the frameworks of political economies. After politics gained ascendancy over economics in the historical triumph of nation-states over city-states, politics and economics were fused through the prevailing paradigm of the national economy identifying the “nation as the economy” or the “economy as the nation.”

Second, political jurisdictions are not economies, just as economies are not political jurisdictions. Jane Jacobs has been a distinctive voice challenging the linkage of nation and economy in nationalist economics. Recently, Kenichi Ohmae's thesis of the withering of the nation-state and the rise of regional economies also takes on the prevailing paradigm of economics.

We are left with a thesis and antithesis: nationalist economies with ...

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