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October 09, 2007


mickey mouse

"If you wanted evidence that mainstream economists form an exclusive club and speak in a single voice, could you get any better than this?"

Sorry, I don't see much of a problem here. Bhagwati is high on ego, but makes good sense. All writers have their own unique style and quirks. I think you should get off your polite ivy-league high horse.

Justin Rietz

There are few economists who are true believers in free trade. Instead, there are many who believe in the benefits of free trade but still want to impose protectionist restrictions - basically hedging their bet. I believe this latter group makes up the "Orthodox economists."

Austrian economists are some of the strongest free trade supporters, yet I would hardly call them mainstream.

Dani, for clarification, perhaps you would provide a list of the free trade economists who make up the "exclusive club" you allude too?


Dr. Rodrik -- I (anonymously, alas) share your view that Dr. Bhagwati's style here didn't really help his cause. Would anyone who had doubts about trade have been swayed by his argument?

minny mouse

No you are not Dani.

Micky, you're sleeping on the couch tonight.


i am agree with you. i read his books and papers and have a feel like you.


Jagdish certainly came off as a grade-A dick when I saw him give a guest lecture at Duke a couple of years ago. So I guess it's not just his writing...


beware the bhagmonster
his tongue grows more sarcastical as his
words curl
more casuistical

regardez :

a wolf in lambskin

" there is hardly any serious trade economist
who has objected to providing adjustment assistance.... "

note "objected"

of course not
but demanded effective comp or else ???

"Virtually all trade legislation .. has tried to improve on it...."
"virtually "

"tried "

but succeeded bhag ??

" Many trade economists have written extensively on the subject.."

note key bad faith qualifiers here

but even more note
key non action

"written extensively "

got decent results ???

while settling up accounts
that ought to matter eh ??

i'd just call for
a better bigger softer
set of trade collision mats
if i had no eye on the record so far

comping losers
properly and fairly defined
has never been
an actual policy result

looking at the tea leaves
i'd say
all dream programs
will end up as fig leaves

in fact
promises alone with no action at all
are often enough
to stem the rising tides
so far

till the subfurface cracks apart
and the social tsunami comes ashore


i count two high tides of protection here
on the trade wars front
not three

unless the interval between 04 and 07
is similar to the interval between (87-89)
and now (04-07)

bhag as usual has to ham it up

call a draw in round one a win
miss apply and select out
the st paul line changes

and now in round two
fob off
a mid round update
by him --a hostile
hack of a judge ----
as a second win
and now "we"'re
going on to a third win as well

the trade sting
will cause not just swelling
but real poisons to enter our blood stream

pro jobbler gang
rise and be counted

a major trade pause
is on the order of battle


Fair point but he would not be the first economist to be so harsh. The our corner stuff, however, strikes me as suitable for places like the National Review. Jadish is much better than this.

Jonathan Dingel

I think that Bhagwati is saying that there's a consensus, not a club. I expect Professor Rodrik to find that even more frustrating.

Barkley Rosser

Of course Bhagwati is less orthodox when it comes to capital account openness, allowing that "speed bumps" and other restrictions on capital flows, especially short-term ones, may be appropriate for many developing countries.



May be you should study his zodiac sign!

I prefer Baghwati's arguments simply because it's his way to force an argument, in order to clarify how some trade policy experts try to confuse the fundamental question of international division of labour, as globalization and free trade transfers manufacturing jobs more and more towards China and India.

Now, if you're really a "free trader" than you can't resist Baghwati's
rhetorics - even if the language may not be to your collegial liking.

Don't forget FTs audience includes also decision-makers and policy makers in their capitals. It's not the same audience as in your blog.

I find your argument/interjection NOT very convincing.

Or are you trying to polarize the discussion?


i wonder why the terms of economic liberalization aka neoliberalism which B. claims to have a club for or a consensus on w/r/t economists doesn't include a loud and obnoxious call for the free movement of labor. shouldn't the true believers be just as militant for the other side of economic freedom?

just a few years ago Hardt and Negri more or less from the alter-globalization political economic Gramscian "club" provocatively argued not significantly for trade protectionism but for the right for labor to be as free as capital and for strategic mobilization around the regulation of capital to occur pretty much in the cultural realm, ie global boycotts and prioritizing local economic consumption. ie talking to capital in its own language ... utopistic thinking to be sure.

but the fundamental contradiction of ideological neoliberals (and doesn't B.'s discourse signify ideological, not just "scientific" positionality) seems to be this: relative to the loudness of their arguments for free capital mobility, relatively nonexistent arguments for free labor mobility. Does no one on the inside (whatever that means) push them (B's "club") on this, in public fora that they preach from?


To my knowledge most idealogical neoliberals are in favor of a labor mobility, I would even go so far as to say that many of them secretly believe that economic integration would be going a lot more smoothly if labor was more mobile.

But the prospect of international labor mobility obviously doesen't have near the opposition that financial, capital and trade liberalization does combined with the fact that, unlike the pipe dream of perefect labor mobility, capital and trade liberalization is something that could feasibly happen if those lobbying for it get their way and capital/trade liberalization boosterism and opposition is the only game in town.


"w/r/t economists doesn't include a loud and obnoxious call for the free movement of labor"

say it again brother

to me more open
in jobs
would mean

the earth's
ever more
mobile hands and brains THEMSELVES
scoop up the lion's value share
for creating



"But the prospect of international labor mobility obviously doesen't have near the opposition that financial, capital and trade liberalization does "

do u mean to say this ???

or are u saying something more like this :

right now and for the forseeeable future
cross border labor mobility
confronts far far far
more effective opposition
than cross border
capital mobility
hence the nasty factor share
asym in results


I agree with you, but he problem isn't really Bhagwati attacking other economists. It's his petulant, arrogant approach to non-economists, especially any heretic who dares question the gospel of globalization or trade liberalization. Read any of his op-eds from the Seattle/Cancun aftermath periods, for instance. You put it quite correctly in the post on A Progressive Trade Agenda: skeptics of globalization come from different, mostly non-economistic perspectives, which JB fails to treat with any respect or seriousness.

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