Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hooked on Free Trade Religion

Then there’s the print media’s addiction to the present system of “free trade.” The worst offender of all, in my view, is the New York Times. Liberalization of trade is a sacred component of its liberal faith, promulgated throughout the paper, not only on the editorial pages but in the business section and in the weekly Magazine. Dissenters seldom get any space, not even in the news pages.

Also, facts embarrassing to the policy line get buried or ignored. In a national poll conducted in mid-June, 56 percent of voters surveyed said that NAFTA needs to be renegotiated. Even 49 percent of Republicans agree, according to a June 18 release by an independent polling organization, Rasmussen Reports. The story appeared on Fox News, but not in the New York Times.

On June 8 the New York Times Magazine ran its latest defense of free trade, “This Global Show Must Go On” by Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University. Among other things, Cowen criticizes a proposed “’timeout’ from globalization” when the actual proposal is for a timeout in trade negotiations (there already is a de facto timeout, and world trade is actually accelerating, as Cowen acknowledges).

Another economist, Dani Rodrik, has written an economic response to Cowen in an article, “Globalization anxiety as mass hysteria?” on his Weblog. Here’s his first sentence:

“Those who are puzzled by globalization anxiety and attribute it to collective irrationality (see Tyler Cowen’s piece in the NYT) overlook a fundamental aspect of markets – their ‘embeddedness’.”

Read the full text here. Enjoy.

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