An honest discussion of free trade and how nations can sensibly chart a path forward in today’s global economy
Not so long ago the nation-state seemed to be on its deathbed, condemned to irrelevance by the forces of globalization and technology. Now it is back with a vengeance, propelled by a groundswell of populists around the world. In Straight Talk on Trade, Dani Rodrik, an early and outspoken critic of economic globalization taken too far, goes beyond the populist backlash and offers a more reasoned explanation for why our elites’ and technocrats’ obsession with hyper-globalization made it more difficult for nations to achieve legitimate economic and social objectives at home: economic prosperity, financial stability, and equity.
Rodrik takes globalization’s cheerleaders to task not for emphasizing economics over other values but for practicing bad economics and ignoring the discipline’s own nuances that should have called for caution. He makes a case for a pluralist world economy where nation-states retain sufficient autonomy to fashion their own social contracts and develop economic strategies tailored to their needs. Rather than calling for closed borders or defending protectionists, Rodrik shows how we can restore a sensible balance between national and global governance. Ranging over the recent experiences of advanced countries, the eurozone, and developing nations, Rodrik charts a way forward with new ideas about how to reconcile today’s inequitable economic and technological trends with liberal democracy and social inclusion.
Deftly navigating the tensions among globalization, national sovereignty, and democracy, Straight Talk on Trade presents an indispensable commentary on today’s world economy and its dilemmas, and offers a visionary framework at a critical time when we need it most.
Dani Rodrik is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.
"All economists should read Straight Talk on Trade to appreciate how their own models are often richer than their policy advice. And all noneconomists should read this book to appreciate how much economics has to offer on the biggest questions of growth and inequality. The length of this book belies its stunning scope, ranging from developed to developing countries, the past to the present, and political science to economics. Dani Rodrik’s eclectic methodology and advice support his unwavering, optimistic belief that economic ideas can and should help people shape their destinies."--Jason Furman, Harvard Kennedy School and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
"There is a ton of erudition and not an ounce of orthodoxy in this compact, incisive book. Dani Rodrik analyzes policy like an economist and analyzes economics like a philosopher. The net effect is a disarmingly fresh and penetrating set of insights on national self-determination, fair versus free trade, and the rich interplay between markets, governments, and individual identity in sustaining stable nation-states. Arguing for a rethinking and rebalancing of the teetering project of globalization, Rodrik offers something to delight and offend every reader."--David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Dani Rodrik is one of the most original thinkers today on economics and development. In Straight Talk on Trade, he explains why there is so much discontentment with the multilateral system, and offers interesting proposals for how we might preserve what is good about it. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the roots of populist nationalism and the widespread angst in industrial societies today."--Raghuram Rajan, University of Chicago
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Dani Rodrik: