By Lawrence Summers
While the financial crisis dominates current discussion on the US economy, questions regarding America’s future approach to globalisation are looming increasingly large.
Since the end of the second world war, American economic policy has supported an integrated global economy, stimulating development in poor countries, particularly in Asia, at unprecedented rates. Yet America’s commitment to internationalist economic policy is ever more in doubt. Even before the significant increases in unemployment likely in the months ahead, the indicators are all disturbing. Presidential candidates attack the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Colombian free trade agreement languishes. There are increasing attacks on foreign investment in the US, not to mention growing support for restrictive immigration policies.
To all of this the conventional wisdom has a well developed response, with four standard elements. First, the sceptic regarding trade deals or other internationalist policies is educated around the many benefits of trade, not just for exporters but also for consumers and the economy more generally.