Was it good for you too?
You say it left you feeling really sore and that I did not even say a proper goodbye (let alone pay you for my share of dinner)? Well, I don't really care. I enjoyed it so much that we must have been both better off in aggregate. So we have to keep doing it. And in any case, if we stop you are likely to find some other way of hurting yourself.
Forgive me my illicit thoughts, but it is Clive Crook who makes me do it. His response to my last couple of posts here on Hillary Clinton's skeptical views on trade agreements that is. Here is Clive:
Acknowledging that there can be winners and losers from trade, and developing better kinds of social insurance to ease the strain, makes sense. I am very much for that. But those policies do not envisage restrictions on trade. It is very hard to maintain that (a) trade is good for us in the aggregate and (b) it makes sense to go slow on trade liberalisation. If you are going to argue (b), before long you will find yourself failing to mention (a). And once you have forgotten (a), or decided it might actually be wrong, good luck in trying to "maintain the openness we have".
Hmmm. For one thing, I would like to know under what theory of distributive justice my gain of 6 at the expense of your loss of 5 necessarily amounts to a change that is "good for us in the aggregate." See here and here for a discussion on this. Second, why does Clive believe none of us is able to hold more than one thought in our minds at once (if we argue (b) we will soon forget (a)). Third, how does a breather so quickly become increased protectionism? And finally, the issue is not trade versus no trade; it is the type of rules that should govern trade. If this is the best argument that Clive can make, I am on even stronger grounds than I thought...
For my part, I believe trade can be even better for "us" in aggregate if we invest some time and effort to rethink its rules and that doing so does not imply that we will roll back into protectionism. So here are my questions for Clive:
1. What is your central estimate of the impact of a completed Doha Round on real incomes around the world?
2. Would you agree that, everything else being the same, a breather on new trade agreements is one way that we can begin to bring some of the globalization skeptics (not the die-hard protectionists but those who are genuinely concerned like me that the rules are no longer adequate for an open global economy) on board in reconstituting a new set of rules?
3. If I could somehow convince you that a standstill on new trade agreements could be achieved without a significant rise in protectionism--i.e., a standstill on trade agreements and trade restrictions both--would you agree that it is worth sacrificing Doha so that we could refashion a new political coalition?