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Several years ago, I predicted that there would be a tectonic shift toward devolution, secession and independence around the world, owing to the failure of political institutions to manage economic, cultural, ethnic and religious differences.Since then, the United Kingdom has decided to withdraw from the European Union.Meanwhile, the United States, under President Donald Trump, has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and abandoned the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU. In Spain, on Oct. 1, the government of the semiautonomous region of Catalonia held a referendum in which 43 percent of Catalans took part, voting overwhelmingly for independence. When the late Nobel laureate economist Robert Mundell, the intellectual "father of the euro," set out to determine an optimal currency area, he put a premium on natural trade and macroeconomic ties.Economic areas are continually forming, combining and dissolving as a result of competing centrifugal and centripetal forces.The EU has certainly been a great success as a trade area, but less so as an integrated labor market and currency union; and it has altogether failed as a banking and fiscal area.
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