New Debate On Trade

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When it comes to job losses in this country from globalization, the flood has just barely begun, says big-time Princeton economist Alan Blinder. Before it's over, America will be painfully remade. Any job that can go abroad will be at risk of going abroad, including millions of jobs deep in the white collar world.

Blinder says he's a free trader to his toes, but this country is not ready for the tsunami on its way. Columbia's Jagdish Bhagwati says that's apocalyptic nonsense feeding a dangerous national urge to go protectionist.

This hour On Point: Blinder versus Bhagwati on America's fate and your job.

Quotes from the Show:

"I think the fundamental warning is that there is a large wave of change starting now to sweep over the jobs landscape in terms of what kinds of work is going to be done in America and what kinds of work is not going to be done in America. And we'd be wise to prepare ourselves in a variety of ways, rather than let history take us by surprise."

"What I see coming is developments in the service sector, where we're not accustomed - in particular the people in those jobs - are not accustomed to foreign competition, starting to look more like the manufacturing sector which of course has been vulnerable to competition from abroad for decades." Alan Blinder

"We in the United States frankly do a miserable job of helping the victims of job churn insecurity, whether it be from trade or anything else. Part of the message is if this phenomenon is going to be affecting a lot bigger swath of America than it was before, we just have to do a better job." Alan Blinder

"Yes, all these jobs are now tradeable but it doesn't mean we will lose those jobs to other people necessarily — other people may lose them to us." Jagdish Bhagwati

"All these jobs are tradable but it doesn't mean they are vulnerable necessarily just in the US. There's gonna be a two-way trade." Jagdish Bhagwati

"I think we will gain a lot but only after a huge and possibly humiliating scary step backwards. I think in the United States there will be dissent, possibly to the point of civil war. ... I think the tsunami is when you look at the disparity of income and quality of life." Listener from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

"We really have to now rethink our whole institutional structure as to how we provide workers with security." Jagdish Bhagwati


Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics at Princeton University. He has served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and as the Vice Chairman on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.;
Jagdish Bhagwati, Professor of Economics and Law and Columbia University and Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This program aired on April 11, 2007.


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