Summary of Get on Track with Trade

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Global trade has become a flashpoint in the United States and other advanced economies, where opponents have cited foreign competition as the major culprit behind the disappearance of local manufacturing jobs. While this remains a minority view, the vocal and sometimes vitriolic stance of those who advocate it has moved the issue of trade to political center stage. This thoughtful article from economist Maurice Obstfeld paints a more nuanced picture of how trade affects jobs and the economy. getAbstract recommends this worthwhile read to those interested in the potential impact of isolationist trade policies, particularly in the United States.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why global trade is vital to the world economy;
  • Why trade critics are so vehement in their opposition; and
  • What policies are likely to be effective in addressing employment disruptions in advanced economies, and which ones are likely to fail.

About the Author

Maurice Obstfeld is the director of research at the International Monetary Fund.



Following World War II, global trade became a centerpiece of the world economy, enabling consumers to obtain a wide variety of goods at reasonable prices. Introducing more competition into the marketplace enhanced productivity by lowering production costs and compelling exporters to “raise their game” through greater efficiencies. Global trade soared in the 1990s due to technological advances and political liberalization.

Globalization’s critics oppose it so vehemently for two primary reasons: First, global trade brings job losses to entire economic sectors, and affected workers...

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