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We moeten de populistische revolte op de juiste waarde schatten

CAMBRIDGE – In veel westerse democratieën is dit het jaar van de revolte tegen de elites. Het succes van de Brexit-campagne in Groot-Brittannië, de onverwachte greep van Donald Trump op de Republikeinse Partij in de Verenigde Staten, en het succes van populistische partijen in Duitsland en elders lijken in de ogen van velen het einde van een tijdperk aan te kondigen. VolgensFinancial Times-columnist Philip Stephens staat “de huidige mondiale orde – het liberale, op regels gebaseerde systeem dat in 1945 werd gevestigd en na het einde van de Koude Oorlog werd uitgebreid – onder ongekende druk. De mondialisering is op de terugtocht.”

Maar in feite zou het wel eens voorbarig kunnen zijn om dergelijke brede conclusies te trekken.

Sommige economen schrijven de huidige opkomst van het populisme toe aan de “hyper-mondialisering” van de jaren negentig, waarbij de liberalisering van de internationale geldstromen en de creatie van de Wereldhandelsorganisatie (WTO) – en met name de toetreding van China tot de  WTO in 2001 – de meeste aandacht krijgen. Volgens één onderzoek zorgden Chinese importen tussen 1999 en 2011 voor het verdwijnen van bijna één miljoen Amerikaanse banen in de industrie; als je de leveranciers en verwante bedrijfstakken meetelt, komt het verlies uit op 2,4 miljoen banen.

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