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Where’s the Growth?
Assessing the results of the globalization experiment
The past few years have been unkind to the prophets of globalization, who spent the turn of the 21st century promising that global economic integration would spread liberal democracy, too. But while the international scene plays host to the most dramatic catastrophes, a full accounting of globalization’s failures must also leave ample room for a domestic tally. That side of the ledger features a steady trickle of theories proven wrong, investments shelved, and jobs never created. Summed over two decades, they amount to a flood of economic disappointment that has transformed the American landscape for the worse.
The problem is not the economist’s oft-repeated disclaimer that trade creates both winners and losers. The problem is that the promised benefits never materialized, while costs dismissed as implausible have proved all too real. Of course, not every problem in the American economy has a connection to globalization, and in few cases is globalization solely to blame. But the era of globalization has coincided closely enough with the onset of precisely those problems that a clear-eyed analyst might have predicted and delivered outcomes sufficiently contrary to the ones its ideologues envisioned, that any jury would return a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.