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Friday, February 16, 2007

What economists don't get about the critics of free trade

As I mention in my comments to Greg Mankiw's post, the reason the job of talking about the benefits to free trade and globalization is so "thankless" is not because non-economists don't want to listen, or just don't get it... it's because economists (most) completely ignore the negatives of free trade and the like. There are losers in free trade, and while there are more losers with protectionism in the long-run, the losers in free-trade are hit harder (the pain is felt more). Economists need to stop being political in focusing on only the good long-run aspects of free trade under X Y and Z assummptions and we need to start joining the more well-rounded discussion of, what are the real life short-run costs, how best can we alliviate those costs (can we?), how can we make the transition smooth, how long will it take, what are some of the intangible costs of free trade...?

In other words, stop preaching from the Ivory Tower.

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