Saturday, March 29, 2008

International Economics Round Up

Dani Rodrik's been on a roll recently, writing several good posts about economics and trade, which I've compiled here. In total, they offer a critical look at trade economics; not the theory so much as the presentation.

First up, a paper by Dean Baker on 'Trade and Inequality: the Role of Economists'.

Second, Rodrik reviews Robert Driskill's Deconstructing the Argument for Free Trade.

Finally, Dani Rodrik offers his own answer to the question: Why Did Financial Globalization Disappoint?

Both Rodrik and Driskill's papers are decently long - 20-30 pages compared to Baker's 10, and they're written in more advanced economic language, but all three are worth the read. Actually, if you only have time for one, read Baker's. It's shorter, but I think he raises some important questions about the role economists play in selling models, rather than challenging and improving them.

Experts in any field are important (since we can't all do everything really well), but their value lies less in their specific expertise than in their ability to ask the right questions. When economists spend more time 'proselytizing free trade rather than communicated what economics really teaches on trade', the gap between the expert and the layperson grows, and everyone is worse off.

Rodrik also provides further proof for the American Scene's and my argument that expertise in one field doesn't necessarily imply expertise in another in his post from Wednesday discussing economists and governance.

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