Calls for a New Model for Global Trade

This linked article from the Boston Globe is evidence that there may be a silver lining to the global economic blood bath.

Now come the second thoughts on globalization.

While some are calling for even more global integration of the financial system, opponents of unfettered free trade are gaining credibility.

The alternative to a new trade model could be a rollback of global business as the voices clamoring for financial controls and trade barriers grow louder.

“At a time of recession, a lot of people will want to look inward,” said Bruce R. Magid, dean of the Brandeis International Business School. “We may see a move toward more protectionism. On both the trade and the capital side, there are going to be second thoughts about the free flow of goods and currency.”

Critics of global trade and finance, long a vocal minority in many countries, including the United States, have based much of their opposition on such historical factors as job migration. Now they see their cause gaining momentum as lawmakers push for tougher oversight and financial restrictions to stem the mayhem in world markets. US Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Newton, has called for stepped-up regulation of investment banks and other financial institutions.

“There’s going to be a large push for re-regulation,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a policy advocacy group in Washington. Wallach said trade pacts have undermined safeguards for workers and consumers worldwide.

“We’re seeing the fruits of three decades of deregulation of the financial markets,” said Tonya Hennessey, project director at CorpWatch, an antiglobalization group in San Francisco. “Because of that, we’ve had this complex packaging of securities sold around the world. There’s no choice but to go back to strong regulation.”

As nations’ economies unravel, global cooperation may soon yield to an “every man for himself” approach. 

So far, leaders have stopped short of threatening to dismantle global business ties. But even before the recent financial contagion, trade deals were increasingly unpopular in countries where workers complain jobs have been shipped abroad.

In the United States, Congress has not renewed the president’s “fast track” authority to negotiate new trade agreements. President Bush has been unable to conclude bilateral trade deals with Colombia and Panama. And the so-called Doha round of talks conducted by the World Trade Organization, aimed at lowering barriers to international commerce, have failed to produce agreements.

“They’re going nowhere now,” Alan Tonelson, research director at the US Business & Industry Council, a Washington business group that has been critical of US trade policies, said of the proposed new international trade pacts. “They’re dead in the water.”

And the article serves up the following as proof that globalization has been a net drag on U.S. industries that have blindly pursued globalization.

Last month, a report from the council said the most globalized industries in the United States, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and mining, saw cumulative growth of 38.4 percent over the past decade, just over half the 66.8 percent growth of the entire US economy. Industries unaffected by global trade, such as healthcare, construction, and personal services, grew 73 percent.

“When you see that our most globalized sectors have lagged behind the economy as a whole, that tells me that our globalization policies have failed the economy,” Tonelson said.

So take heart, folks.  If this debacle results in a swing toward protectionism and a restoration of a balance of trade, you’ll see our economy take off in a way that most of today’s work force has never seen before.


5 Responses to Calls for a New Model for Global Trade

  1. Henry Dubb says:

    That last quote is interesting indeed.

  2. […] 10, 2008 · No Comments One of my regular blog visits is to Five Short Blasts. Pete Murphy wrote a book by the same name that was a very readable book on the complicated subject […]

  3. Pete Murphy says:

    Protectionist sentiment is gathering steam as globalization gathers egg on its face.

  4. FJ says:

    Even if it’s not protectionism, even if we just agree that globalization is mostly a bad thing, that would be a huge step in the right direction. Our culture needs to change; we need to be proud of buying American again and companies need to do right by competing with other countries on merit instead of “how much money can I pocket from this deal or that deal?”. Hopefully the tipping point comes sooner than later, because governments printing fiat money endlessly in order to bail out banks instead of allowing us to take our medicine for a year or two while solving the actual problem makes too much sense for most politicians (and people).

  5. Pete Murphy says:

    FJ, I agree 100%. But just being “proud of buying American” won’t do the trick since, for most products, there are no American made choices any more. Beyond cars, there’s almost nothing that’s made in America. It’s imperative that we implement a tariff structure to provide profit incentive for products to be made here again.

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