Dani Rodrik je skeptičen glede trgovinskih sporazumov TTIP in TPP

Dani Rodrik iz Harvarda je seveda prvo ime med razvojnimi ekonomisti in prvo ime glede globalizacije in njenih učinkov na razvoj. Splača se vam prebrati predvsem “Has Globalization Gone Too Far? “, “The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy” in najnovejšo “Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science“. Rodrik je zagovornik mednarodne trgovine in globalizacije, vendar svari pred njenimi nekritičnimi navijači in pravi, da ni enega in edinega recepta za uspeh, pač pa mora vsaka država najti svoj lastni recept oziroma globalizacijo izkoristiti specifično v svoj prid. Na podlagi analiz trdi, da je neumno, če se država na vrat na nos, gola in bosa, odpre mednarodni trgovini, pač pa se mora postopoma odpirati in regulirati področja, kjer bi lahko prišlo do škodljivih učinkov. Pri tem kot uspešnoi zgodbi postopne liberalizacije omenja Kitajsko in Indijo, kot neuspešne pa šok-terapijske liberalizacije latinskoameriških držav.

Rodrik je skeptičen, čeprav uravnotežen, do obeh globalnih trgovinsko-investicijskih sporazumov (TPP in TTIP), ki so jih lansirale ZDA. Pravi, da bodo učinki minimalni, če sploh kakšni, medtem ko se je treba paziti potencialno negativnih učinkov (glede GMO in ISDS itd.). Dokaj podobno mojim stališčem (čeprav sem o tem v študiji o TTIP pisal precej pred objavo Rodrikovih stališč). Spodaj so odlomki iz njegovih komentarjev o obeh sporazumih.


There is an interesting debate going on in Europe about the likely consequences of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Much of the real debate is (or should be) about the proposed Investor-State dispute resolution (ISDS) and the desirability of regulatory harmonization when nations have different preferences about how these regulations should be designed. But there is also a fascinating numbers game going on, with alternative quantitative estimates deployed by pro- and anti-TTIP groups.

The studies used by the pro group tend to show positive, if small, GDP effects. Probably the best known among these is a study by Joseph Francois and his colleagues, according to which EU and US GDPs will rise by 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively, by 2027 (relative to the baseline scenario without TTIP). Francois et al use a standard computable general equilibrium model that assumes full employment and perfect competition (save for a few sectors where there are scale economies and monopolistic competition). Wisely, they stay away from some of the bells and whistles (e.g., induced learning and TFP gains) that have been used in the past to produce exaggerated benefits from trade agreements.

These results, however, have been challenged in a recent paper by Jeronim Capaldo. Capaldo uses a Keynesian model where output is demand-determined and finds that EU GDP would fall as a result of a decline in net exports. (But U.S. output would rise, since U.S. net exports increase.)   

Now models are useful to the extent that they help us understand the consequences of different sets of assumptions and causal mechanisms. Numerical methods are useful to the extent that they give us a sense of ballpark estimates of likely quantitative magnitudes. I take the Francois et al. model to capture the standard comparative advantage intuition. The Capaldo model, by contrast, warns us to be careful about potential adverse effects in economies where there is considerable slack.

The standard gains-from-trade argument is one about levels, not growth rates. Remove trade impediments, and the level of consumer welfare goes up. These gains rise generally with the tax of the trade barriers, so removing small barriers does not generate large gains. This is the main reason why the Francois et al. (and similar studies) yield relatively small numbers. Tariffs in manufactures are really low to begin with. And even though barriers in services are much higher, Francois et al. reasonably project (in their most aggressive scenario, from which the numbers above come) that at most 25% of those barriers will be done with.

My view has long been that numerical models that purport to show significant dynamic/growth effects are suspect. (See here for a discussion of one such example.) Dynamic effects in trade models tend to be highly fragile, and can be easily reversed by tweaking the assumptions appropriately. Not surprisingly, pro-trade pact models tend to choose assumptions on this score that magnify the economic gains.

Just as the standard gains-from-trade model says nothing about growth, it is also silent about aggregate employment. Full employment is the maintained assumption, so at most we can say something about the structure of employment.

Studies that want to claim employment gains (or in the Capaldo case, losses) have to make additional assumptions. Because these tend to be highly specific to the macro context, they can be quite unreliable. For example, an early study by the (Peterson) Institute for International Economics on NAFTA projected large U.S. trade surpluses vis-a-vis Mexico and therefore significant U.S. employment gains. When the peso crisis struck in December 1994, the bilateral trade balance changed sign in short order. Opponents of NAFTA could now use the same methods to argue that the U.S. was a big loser!

One of the things that always bothers me about quantitative discussion of trade pacts are the claims about the increase in trade volumes that are bandied about. Standard numerical models can generate large changes in export and import volumes even if they yield small welfare gains. A frequent tactic by trade-pact proponents therefore is to focus attention on the trade effects rather than welfare (or GDP) effects.

But the volume of trade has no economic significance. One dollar of output that is exported is no more (or less) valuable to the home economy than one dollar of output that is consumed at home. So beware arguments that revolve around trade numbers.

My bottom line is that I am happy to accept the Francois et al. estimates as my baseline for the economic effects of TTIP a decade down the line (assuming my capital accumulation caveat turns out to be quantitatively not important). But I would put such large margins of error on either side of them that they would not be dispositive for policy purposes.

As I said at the outset, the real issues lie elsewhere – in the broader social/political consequences of regulatory harmonization and the appropriateness of an ISDS regime in the North Atlantic region. I have serious concerns in both areas, and perhaps I will get to write about them too at some point.

Vir: Dani Rodrik, Blog, Maj 2015


As usual, the pact’s advocates have marshaled quantitative models that make the agreement look like a no-brainer. Their favorite model predicts increases in real incomes after 15 years that range from 0.5% for the United States to 8% in Vietnam. Moreover, this model – developed by Peter Petri and Michael Plummer, from Brandeis and Johns Hopkins Universities, respectively, building on a long line of similar frameworks by them and others – foresees relatively insignificant cost to employment in affected industries.

The TPP’s opponents have latched on to a competing model, which generates very different projections. Produced by Jeronim Capaldo of Tufts University and Alex Izurieta of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (along with Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General), this model predicts lower wages and higher unemployment all around, as well as income declines in two key countries, the US and Japan.

There is no disagreement between the models on the trade effects. In fact, Capaldo and his collaborators take as their starting point the trade predictions from an earlier version of the Petri-Plummer study. The differences arise largely from contrasting assumptions about how economies respond to changes in trade volumes sparked by liberalization.

Petri and Plummer assume that labor markets are sufficiently flexible that job losses in adversely affected parts of the economy are necessarily offset by job gains elsewhere. Unemployment is ruled out from the start – a built-in outcome of the model that TPP proponents often fudge.

Capaldo and his collaborators offer a starkly different outlook: a competitive race to the bottom in labor markets, with a decline in wages and government spending keeping a lid on aggregate demand and employment. Unfortunately, however, their paper does a poor job of explaining how their model works, and the particulars of their simulation are somewhat murky.

Autor, Dorn, and Hanson document that the expansion of Chinese exports has produced “substantial adjustment costs and distributional consequences” in the US. In regions with industries hit hard by competition from Chinese imports, wages have remained depressed and unemployment levels elevated for more than a decade. Falling employment in such industries was expected; the surprise was the absence of offsetting employment gains in other industries.

Advocates of trade agreements have long maintained that deindustrialization and the loss of low-skill jobs in advanced economies have little to do with international trade; they are the product of new technologies. In the current TPP debate, many prominent proponents still cling to this line. In light of the new empirical findings, such nonchalance toward trade has become untenable. (The Petri-Plummer model does indicate that the TPP will accelerate the movement of jobs from manufacturing to services, a result that the pact’s advocates do not trumpet.)

Vir: Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate, Februar 2016

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