Discussion paper

DP18439 Economic Warfare: Lessons from Two World Wars

Economic warfare was a product of the total wars of the twentieth century. Four lessons are discussed: (1) Modern economies are resilient under attack. (2) The action of economic warfare is slow. (3) Economic warfare is powerful—eventually. (4) The threat of economic warfare is also powerful—although not always as hoped. To conclude, economic warfare belongs to wars of attrition. In such wars, economic and military measures are complements, not substitutes.


Harrison, M (2023), ‘DP18439 Economic Warfare: Lessons from Two World Wars‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18439. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18439