3.3.7 Targeted Political Uses of Economic Power

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/337.htm)

Most political control of the economy is directed towards the whole of the domain being governed, but sometimes governments choose to use the available levers of economic power in a selected area.  Some such interventions may be intended to achieve a purely political purpose, but they inevitably have economic consequences.  There are four patterns of intervention considered here:

  • Governments can intervene to support a specific industry or region (
  • They can apply sanctions or tariffs, or give economic aid, to other countries (
  • They can manipulate their decisions to attract political donations from specific individuals or organisations (
  • A government can strike ad hoc deals with companies, using its power as a bully to get its way ( This undermines the framework of rules that govern an economy, ultimately increasing the cost of doing business.

Some of these types of intervention are politically effective, at least for a short time, but they all place a burden on the economy of the country that uses them.  They act like invisible taxes.



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