Arnold Kling  

Cancun Trade Talks

Grading the President in Macro... Comment of the Week, 2003-09-1...

I've always thought of these world trade meetings as being no more significant than the anti-globalization protests that they spawn, but I'll defer to others, who think that they matter.

Peter Gallagher owns the issue in the blogosphere (at least from a photojournalism perspective).

TechCentralStation has a forum on the topic.

Ronald Bailey is doing embedded journalism for Reason. But Ron's a tough guy who is willing to handle tough assignments, even the rigors of Cancun.

The best overall site may be Cato's globalization symposium, with its pro and con essays. For example, in the pro camp, Brink Lindsey writes,

Critics charge that the world is suffering from an excess of "market fundamentalism." To which this market fundamentalist can only reply: what planet are they living on? According to the 2000 Economic Freedom of the World report, state-owned enterprises continue to operate across a broad range of sectors in 74 countries with 67 percent of the world's population. Price controls remain widespread in 54 countries with 39 percent of the world's population. In 40 countries with 57 percent of the world's people, state-owned banks still hold a clear majority of total deposits. The dead hand of the collectivist past retains all too tight a grip on economic life.

UPDATE: My hunch that the WTO is irrelevant may not be so off-base. Marginal Revolution points to some research that may support my view.

For Discussion. Does "globalization" mean something different from free trade? Are there legitimate arguments for or against one but not the other?

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CATEGORIES: International Trade

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The author at Modulator in a related article titled Late Night Reads writes:
    Mark Kleiman asks whether political motives were involved with Ricuarte's retracted MDMA paper and suggests a full investigation of MDMA research. Well, Cancun is where the action is and Arnold Kling has the links for you including this one at the Cato... [Tracked on September 10, 2003 1:40 AM]
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Matt Young writes:

The main argument for globalization is that Mars is far off and uninhabitated.

Eric Krieg writes:

Globalization is free trade after the French have gotten their hands on the process.

I mean, whose idea was the WTO? Who staffs it?

It's a very European organization (bureacratic), and the way that it is advancing free trade is VERY European (multilateral negotiations).

Meanwhile, the US just keeps chugging along. We just got a bilateral agreement with Chile, for example.

Tim Swanson writes:

I think the story linked by Marginal Revolution sums up "Globalization."

I actually try to use the terms free-trade or free-markets instead of loaded word like 'Globalization' (same reason I refrain from using 'capitalism,' 'socialism,' or 'liberal' they've been distorted to where you have to define them when discussing them).

What the WTO really promotes is managed trade. It adds an unnecessary level of complexity (via bureaucracy) to the market exchange process.

As far as protestors go (I know several of them, having just graduated college and being involved in various student political organizations), some have legitimate gripes. I knew a few that were anti-IMF and anti-World Bank, and had points that I agree with. However, many are also anti-free-trade because of misconceptions regarding specialization, how wealth grows, how trade benefits everyone -- basically econ 101.

A couple other gripes some protestors I knew had and agreed with, was how various "faceless" multinational corporations benefited at the expense of others (namely domestic companies) through subsidies, taxes, "IP" and other schemes.

Of course, if you get rid of the State, not only would you gain friendlier tax brackets (zero sounds good), but "multinational" corporations would no longer be able to hide behind and gain from what Frederic Bastiat lucidly wrote about: legal plunder, aka the law.

David Thomson writes:

Globalization and free trade are essentially one and the same thing. Free trade will most likely improve everything in the long run. Unfortunately, between then and now---a large number of poor people will lose their jobs and endure severe financial hardships. The costs of creative destruction are often high. Is their a magic answer to this dilemma? Nope, it’s usually a matter of biting the bullet and hoping the resulting pain is of a very short duration. The following article amply illustrates my point:

Ronnie Horesh writes:

Globalisation and free trade are not-quite-opposites. Globalisation is managed trade. Sure, lower tariffs are better than higher tariffs, but any tariff or non-tariff barrier with its attendant regulations and administrative requirements favours large companies and multinationals at the expense of smaller businesses. It is the way the world is moving. A successful lawsuit seeking compensation for spilt scalding coffee would wipe out a small cafe; to McDonalds it means a tiny blip in their profits. The rules regulating trade have the same effect. I leave it open to discussion whether it's a a good or bad thing.

Peter Gallagher writes:


I'm sure that after Cancun a lot of people will ask: "Is all this agony really getting us anywhere?". Many of those who will be the most bitter are those, who, like me are the most frustrated by what is happening.

I think the Andrew Rose research paper is off the mark. I'll try to say why when I get back from the Cancun meeting.

Best wishes,


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