May 23, 2005
Kash, also known as Angry Bear, has a great post on globalization, or as he calls it, economic integration.
One last word about the field economics in general. I realize that some
of you are disappointed that I agree with the orthodoxy by thinking
that international economic integration is generally a good thing,
despite the fact that I call myself "liberal". And I realize that some
of you think that economists are all simply brain-washed when it comes
to international trade. But I would like to ask you to give me, and
other economists, a little more credit. We have no incentive to simply
follow a �party line�, and we have every incentive to come up with a
convincing counter-argument; recognition in the field comes not from
repeating orthodoxy but rather from overturning it, after all.
Furthermore, anything that any economist says or writes is immediately
subject to vicious and relentless criticism from the rest of the
profession � that�s how all academic professions work.
So if the vast majority of economists agree about something, it�s not because we are simply turning off our brains (and analytical power) on that one subject. It�s because the theory and evidence on the subject are convincing, and have withstood relentless efforts to debunk it. In general most economists think economic integration is a good thing, not because it�s convenient to do so, but because the work of thousands of extremely smart people working over decades has convinced us that it usually is.
That doesn't mean that economic integration is ever painless, or always good. But I would also say the same thing about technological progress. And just as is the case for technological progress, I also think that in general, it's more good than bad.
You need to go and read the comments section to see what a furore this has set off amongst the economically illiterate (there’s actually one guy ocmplaining that Pat Buchanan is not a Democrat and another using Counterpunch as a valued source). How dare someone support free trade and be a liberal? As Kash points out, (It’s like being a liberal and supporting Newtonian physics as a workaday approximation, being a conservative and acknowledging evolution) these things are simply true and one’s philosophical position does not change that.
H/T Marginal Revolution.
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As far as I can see he's talking about *trade* ("economic integration")rather than *free trade*. That is, trade as outcome rather than trade policy. You can have integration without free trade of course, as China, India and Vietnam have demonstrated recently.
This seems to be a constant problem with advocates of free trade - whenever someone says "trade is good" they say "I'm glad you agree that free trade is good". But they're not the same thing. It's like if someone says "Driving a car is good", and you reply "I'm glad you support my case for the abolition of all speed limits".
Posted by: Jim | May 23, 2005 1:48:42 PM
Free traders think that speed limits should be set by the owners of the road. Likewise trade should be decided purely by the two parties involved (i.e. they don't need a ininvited third party, who charges them for it's holdups!)
Posted by: Rob Read | May 23, 2005 5:59:28 PM
Actually - there are 3 Angrybears. The original, Kash, and yours truly. I just tried to provide a (feeble) defense for these horrific quotas. To be fair, I'm not at all convinced by my own effort - but I think I did a better job at defending the impossible than the Commerce Dept. did.
Posted by: pgl | May 23, 2005 11:07:10 PM
Jim - your analogy puzzles me a bit. But I bet you could make a case against CAFTA. Then again, CAFTA strikes me as selective trade liberalization and not free trade.
Posted by: pgl | May 23, 2005 11:08:55 PM