Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Talking with Jagdish Bhagwati

I suppose I get my kicks in strange and mysterious ways.Talking to somebody I haven't had a chance to talk with before, learning new things from him (or her) and feeling at least a modicum or rapport with somebody I respect highly probably doesn't strike too many people as all that exciting. But I get a jolt from it.

I've been working on a piece for next Sunday's Register on the prospects for international trade during an Obama administration and during a time of international economic downturn that I'm afraid will last longer than most anyone would prefer, since the governments who claim to be trying to fix it are throwing gasoline on the fire instead. So I decided to call Jagdish Bhagwati, economist at Columbia for many years and perhaps the foremost expert on international trade on the planet. I had read and admired his book, "In Defense of Globalization," which corrects a lot of yahoos left and right. We had a nice long talk, and it sounded as if he enjoyed it too. He's very concerned about the possibility of what he calls a WTO-consistent trade war and thinks Obama to date has been extremely disappointing, that the economists around him may be generally pro-trade but don't really know much about the subject. It's an opinion he's expressed here, and here as well as to me.

I'll link to my piece when it's published.

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