Protectionism Watch

The NY Times takes a look around and doesn’t like what it sees. The reflexive reaction of protectionism is so obvious, and the globalized arguments against it so counterintuitive, that it’s hard to see where the kill switch is on this one. Part of this has to do with a failure to educate domestic opinion regarding globalization’s advantages during the boom times.

But part of it has to do with a tendency among elites to minimize globalization’s very real downsides for a broad cross section of consitutencies. That had a lot to do with what I increasingly think of as the “job retraining assumption”: that once the choppy waters of the initial transition period are crossed, globalization is all smooth sailing. Setting aside the fact that in this case, the choppy waters of the transition period were followed by the perfect storm of financial crises, it’s also clear the motor used to get past the choppy waters was bound to run out of gas. Over-leveraged, credit-based consumption is not sustainable in any economic model.

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