Skip to main content
Indonesia Samsung Factory Dimas Ardian/Getty Images

Straight Talk on Trade

Economists' zeal to defend trade from its enemies has backfired. If the demagogues making nonsensical claims about trade are now getting a hearing – and, in the US and elsewhere, actually winning power – it is trade's cheerleaders who deserve at least part of the blame.

CAMBRIDGE – Are economists partly responsible for Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the US presidential election? Even if they may not have stopped Trump, economists would have had a greater impact on the public debate had they stuck closer to their discipline’s teaching, instead of siding with globalization’s cheerleaders.

As my book Has Globalization Gone Too Far? went to press nearly two decades ago, I approached a well-known economist to ask him if he would provide an endorsement for the back cover. I claimed in the book that, in the absence of a more concerted government response, too much globalization would deepen societal cleavages, exacerbate distributional problems, and undermine domestic social bargains – arguments that have become conventional wisdom since.

The economist demurred. He said he didn’t really disagree with any of the analysis, but worried that my book would provide “ammunition for the barbarians.” Protectionists would latch on to the book’s arguments about the downsides of globalization to provide cover for their narrow, selfish agenda.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/Rf6JQur;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions