Although neoliberal globalists are often said to be opposed to industrial policy and strategic trade, that is not necessarily true. Neoliberals of the kind who have dominated U.S. policy under the two Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are not orthodox anti-government libertarians. They support a particular kind of industrial policy, whose emblem is not the American eagle but the Japanese goose.
Taking the side of ancient particularity in its long-standing quarrel with modern universalism, I warned in a July Commons post against the temptation to orient American policy towards China around the moralizing language of human rights that has dominated international discourse since the Second World War.
Much as the Brexit referendum anticipated the rise of the Trump presidency, the current UK Conservative government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson may now be providing clues as to a possible future path for the post-Trump Republican Party in the United States. The prevailing ideological preferences of Johnson and his advisors are becoming increasingly clear in the context of the United Kingdom’s current negotiations with the European Union (EU), where the vexed question of state aid to industries may ultimately become the issue that torpedoes a comprehensive free trade deal.
Repatriating supply chains to home shores has become an increasingly fashionable topic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the rationale is to ensure that adequate redundancy and resiliency are built into our economies, even at the cost of “just in time” inventory accumulation practices (which have prioritized short term profitability at a cost of the kinds of supply shocks we are experiencing today).
Professor Dan Drezner is again illustrating how we ended up with a misbegotten consensus on globalization built upon inadequate assumptions and shallow analysis. A couple of weeks ago, we encountered him badly mischaracterizing a study about the supposed value of trade liberalization. Breezing past that issue, he is back now with a more outlandish claim, that: “a world in which ‘trade were balanced, domestic industry robust, and productivity rising’ is a world that not only does not exist, but very likely cannot exist” (emphasis in original).
German philosopher Hegel postulated that history progresses through thesis, antithesis and then synthesis. Today we are seeing the first two dynamics with trade policy and attitudes towards globalization; we desperately need the third.
In a recent post, Rachel Bovard rightly defended the notion that in certain instances national security considerations should supersede free trade considerations. She specifically cited the ban on Huawei in the context of a discussion of a recent Real Clear Markets column by economist John Tamny, who makes a traditional free market case against the ban on Huawei in the US market
Professor Dan Drezner has been crudely criticizing Senator Josh Hawley’s New York Times op-ed on U.S. withdrawal from the WTO—treating it “the way one would treat an undergrad paper in global political economy,” awarding a C-minus, and offering the feedback that, “You can do better work than this, Josh. Put in the effort, do more research and make sharper arguments next time.” He exposes the fundamental weakness of his critique though, with the claim that “Hawley prefers exiting the WTO and rejecting the estimated $2.1 trillion in benefits from trade,” in the process demonstrating exactly what simplistic economic analyses of trade policy get wrong.
It is refreshing to see an increasing number of politicians and pundits from across the political spectrum calling for re-establishing their manufacturing base to address the vulnerabilities exposed in the wake of COVID-19. The latest is GOP Senator Josh Hawley, calling for the abolition of the World Trade Organization, in a NY Times Op-ed.
Sen. Josh Hawley recently opined in the New York Times about the need for the US to back out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and engage the global economy with bilateral trade agreements that better reflect American interests.