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HOW TO SAVE GLOBALIZATION FROM ITS CHEERLEADERS Dani Rodrik* Harvard University Revised, September 2007 I. Introduction When future economic historians write their textbooks, they will no doubt marvel at the miraculous turn the world economy took after 1950. Over the long stretch of history, neither the Industrial Revolution nor the subsequent economic catch-up of the United States and other “western offshoots” looks as impressive (Figure 1). The period since 1950 has witnessed more rapid economic growth than any other period before, with only the classical gold standard era between 1870 and 1913 coming close. Even more striking, there has been a quantum jump since 1950 in the growth rate of the most rapidly growing countries. Prior to 1950, growth superstars experienced growth rates that barely surpassed 2 percent per annum (in per-capita terms) over long stretches. Compare this with the post-1950 growth champions: Japan, South Korea, and China each grew at 6-8 percent per annum during 1950-73, 1973-90, and 1990-2005 respectively. Even allowing for the shorter time slices, this indicates that the world economy became a much more enabling environment for economic growth after 1950. Clearly, the architects of this new world economic system got something right. Going forward, there can be few more important things than to maintain a global economic environment that is as enabling in the future as it has been in the recent past. This requires that we interpret the reasons behind the post-1950 boom appropriately. A simple “it’s all due to globalization” view receives little support from Figure 1. It is significant that the world economy experienced a more significant boost during 1950-73 than it did during either the post- * I thank several commentators on my blog, in particular paine, Steveb, and Andrew, for catching mistakes and typos.21990 period of gung-ho globalization or the transition period between 1973-90. Second, and perhaps even more tellingly, the countries that did best under each one of these periods were hardly poster children for open markets and laissez-faire economics. These countries combined orthodoxy on some (mostly macroeconomic) policy fronts with a good bit of heterodoxy on others (especially in microeconomic policies). Japan, South Korea, and China each played by very different rules than those enunciated by the guardians of orthodox globalization—multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and GATT/WTO and by Western-based academics. Source: Maddison (2001) and World Development Indicators. Figure 1: The expanding growth frontier Historical experience with growth01234567891000-1500 1500-1820 1820-1870 1870-1913 1913-1950 1950-73 1973-90 1990-2005Western Europe United States Other WesternoffshootsMexico Norway Japan South Korea ChinaGDP per capita growth rate of fastest growingcountry/region (annual average, %)World GDP per capita growth rate (annualaverage, %)3 In this paper I present a forward-looking evaluation of globalization. I accept as my premise that globalization, in some appropriate form, is a major engine of economic growth (as Figure 1 amply demonstrates). But I will argue that several paradoxical features require us that we rethink its rules. First, as I already indicated, globalizations’ chief beneficiaries are not necessarily those with the most open economic policies. Second, globalization has come with frequent financial crises and considerable amounts of instability, which are both costly and in principle avoidable. And third globalization remains unpopular among large segments of the people it is supposed to benefit (especially in rich countries). It is not that these features have gone unnoticed in the recurrent debate on globalization. In fact, we can talk of a new conventional wisdom that has begun to emerge within multilateral institutions and among Northern academics. This new orthodoxy emphasizes that reaping the benefits of trade and financial globalization requires better domestic institutions, essentially improved safety nets in rich countries and improved governance in the poor countries. With these institutions in place (or in construction), it remains safe and appropriate to pursue a strategy of “more of the same, but better:” continue to open markets in trade and finance, while strengthening institutions. Enhanced trade adjustment assistance (and perhaps more progressive taxation) in the advanced countries, the Doha trade agenda, IMF surveillance over exchange rate policies, the World Bank’s governance agenda, “aid-for-trade, and international financial codes and standards are some of the visible markers of this approach. This strategy is predicated on the presumption that insufficiently open markets continue to pose an important constraint on the world economy. Its proponents’ concerns therefore center on the question: what institutional reforms are needed at home and internationally to render further market opening politically acceptable and sustainable?4But is this presumption really valid? I shall argue here that lack of openness is (no longer) the binding constraint for the global economy. I will provide a range of evidence on trade and capital flows that indicates the obstacles faced by developing countries do not originate from inadequate access to markets abroad or to foreign capital. The gains to be reaped by further liberalization of markets are meager for poor and rich countries alike. This leads me to an alternative approach to globalization, one that focuses on enhancing policy space rather than market access. Such a strategy would focus on devising the rules of the game to better manage the interface between national regulatory and social regimes. A good argument can be made that it is lack of policy space—and not lack of market access—which is (or likely to become soon) the real binding constraint on a prosperous global economy. This argument can be buttressed both by current evidence from rich and poor countries, and by reference to historical experience with the previous wave of globalization. But what do we mean by policy space and can we really create it without running into the slippery slope of creeping protectionism? By the end of the paper, I hope I will have given the reader some reason to believe that an alternative conception of globalization—one that is more likely to maintain an enabling global environment than the path we


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