Stiglitz sobre el comercio, el desarrollo y el desempleo

octubre 29, 2010

De una entrevista de 1997 en The Region:

ROLNICK: So while there may be different impacts between export policies and import policies, you’re essentially arguing for open trade and it’s not just in physical capital, it’s in ideas as well?

STIGLITZ: That’s right. But, it’s a very different argument from the traditional arguments for trade. There is a little bit of evidence that the gains from trade do not come from inter-sectoral reallocation of resources—the traditional economist’s view. The idea being that the gains from trade really come from these technology spillovers.

ROLNICK: This is the new literature that suggests there are gains to trade that we in the profession haven’t quantified yet.

STIGLITZ: And this enters very much into thinking about regional trade arrangements, what the gains and the costs and benefits that go beyond the traditional debate of trade diversion vs. trade creation. They address issues like: What will be the impact of this particular regional trade agreement on technology transfer?

ROLNICK: What about NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]? NAFTA is one of the more recent regional trade agreements. There are still many critics of NAFTA. Where do you stand?

STIGLITZ: My general stand on regional trade agreements is that they need to be viewed as a step toward a more open international set of arrangements. They are intermediate steps. And as intermediate steps, they need to be evaluated not where they are but where they lead. So if an intermediate step blocks off the link to the final step, then it’s a step backwards. But if it’s really intermediate . . .

ROLNICK: Some have argued NAFTA was just that, an intermediate step that was going to lead to a full-blown North American free trade agreement and then eventually open up to the rest of the world. Is that a fair view?

STIGLITZ: That, I think, is a fair interpretation of what those of us who are optimistic about NAFTA believe. There have been some setbacks over the last couple of years. A lot of us hoped for fast track authority in Congress that would have facilitated Chile being brought into the free trade area. And, in a way, I wish the debate were on the issue of whether the best way of reaching the free trade area, embracing all of the Americas, was through fast track accession or a big bang agreement that would embrace everybody at the same time. That kind of debate would have made clear what the goal was and the best way of obtaining it. With some of the protectionist sentiment in Congress, one worries about whether we’ve lost sight of what the goal is. And the fact that there’s still much resistance to even a fast track for Chile suggests that the goal may not be in sight.

ROLNICK: One reason for this resistance is that when governments make new trade agreements there are going to be winners and losers. NAFTA attempted to take care of those that would lose. Has this attempt been successful?

STIGLITZ: Any change has winners and losers. New innovations have winners and losers. Our attitude toward opening up trade, which is like an innovation, should be like our attitude toward somebody discovering a super laser that makes the economy more productive.

ROLNICK: Well, that’s easy for an economist to say, but U.S. politicians have to worry about firms that have to compete with Mexican firms.

STIGLITZ: I agree. However, once you begin by bringing the issue of lost opportunities in our society, you can phrase a question like: How are we going to react to the automobile that threw the blacksmith out of work? Are we going to say we’re not going to allow the automobile? And from a historical perspective, do we think it was a mistake to allow the automobile? I think most of us probably think, aside from maybe being worried about pollution, that our society is much better off. Now the same argument goes for opening up trade. We’re going to be better off. But, just like the blacksmiths were hurt, opening up trade leads to some people being hurt. It really is basically the same principle. Innovations that make our society more productive have mostly winners but some losers. And as a society it is incumbent upon us to ease the transition of those who are hurt. And that principle was encompassed in NAFTA, and it’s one of the things that we need to continue to focus on.

ROLNICK: Some argue that we should only negotiate free trade agreements when we’re at full employment. Do you agree?

STIGLITZ: No. My view is that good macro-economic policy overall is the most important part of a jobs program. You’ve got good macro-economic policy. You’ve got the unemployment rate under 5 percent without inflationary pressure. Whatever the cause of unemployment, whether it’s new technology or new trade, people have to move from one job to another. And so, some of this issue I think is a red herring. I think we ought to have job transition programs, period. And the cost of the programs, if we have our economy running at full employment, is not going to be that great. People don’t want to spend a lot of time in a training program when they could be out in the labor force. So, I’m not worried about the overall cost. When the economy has ups and downs, the cost will go up a little bit, but that’s again not bad. People are training for where the economy goes.

Más sobre regulación bancaria, la unión monetaria europea y ciclos económicos en la entrevista completa.



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