42:1 - Winter 2018
The Fletcher Forum is pleased to share a sampling of articles from our latest print edition of the journal, focused on dueling narratives: the global battle for truth. To read more, we invite you to subscribe to The Forum and thank you for your readership and support.
The Cry Is Going Up: A Conversation with Lord Michael Dobbs
Wounds of the Past and the Present: Walls, Fences, and Imaginary Geography: A Conversation with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia
New and Old Alliances in the Middle East: A Conversation with Dan Shapiro, Former Ambassador of the United States to Israel
When Economists Agree, But (Many) Others Do Not: Dueling Narratives on International Trade by Michael Klein
Public debate about economic issues often diverges from expert views. A general consensus among economists may not be evident to the public when the media attempts to portray conflicting views that, in fact, present a decidedly minority opinion alongside one that is broadly accepted in the scholarly community, or when politicians cherry-pick arguments that do not accurately reflect the general views of experts. International trade offers an important example. Despite the consensus among economists that, for a very wide range of products, free trade delivers net benefits to a country, calls for restrictions on free trade are widespread and bipartisan. This essay discusses a number of reasons for this disconnect, including the point that the benefits of free trade are diffuse while its potential costs can be concentrated among a relatively small set of industries or individuals. Economists must be sensitive to the costs of trade, and cognizant of individuals and industries that are injured by it (as they need to be cognizant of dislocations arising from other changes in the economy, such as automation), in order to have their opinions resonate more strongly in public debate.