Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obama and Free Trade

I never posted a review of my trip to the Obama rally on Tuesday. I have to say that while I thought his speech was very good, I did not think it was great. Although it is still pretty impressive he can fill a college basketball arena.
I was listening to his speech with careful attention to his economic policies. Not that he was going to reveal anything strongly. I do recall him specifically saying he supported lower trade barriers. He similarly on his website says

“In the end, I believe that expanding trade and breaking down barriers between countries is good for our economy and for our security, for American consumers and American workers.” – Barak Obama

Greg Mankiw today questions Obama’s support of free trade. Mankiw sites text from a recent Obama speech that sounds more anti-free trade, with rhetoric of supporting renegotiating labor standards for NAFTA. Mankiw then contrasts that speech with Larry Summers who typical of most economists is pro-free trade.

As Mankiw suggests like most economists I agree with Larry Summers, but many economists including Mankiw’s colleague Dani Rodrick might not disagree with Obama. When discussing issues of labor and environmental standards in free trade agreement Rodrik says “These are all difficult questions, without clear-cut answers.” (pg 21).

Given that it is not so simple I think Obama might not be that far off the right path. There are not easy answers or us economists would be out of job.

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