Summary of Globalization Doesn’t Make As Much Sense As It Used To

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Globalization enthusiasts argue that all parties benefit from free trade. Former US trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz, writing in The Atlantic, explains why that may no longer be true for the United States. Yes, during a short and quite exceptional period in world history, the US did benefit from free trade. But free-trade policies didn’t serve the US in the 1800s and may no longer do so in the early 21st century. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this article to those interested in seeing the contemporary free-trade debate in historical perspective.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Under what circumstances nations benefit from free trade,
  • How exceptional economic conditions allowed the United States to flourish in a globalized system after World War II and
  • Why free trade as a guiding principle of US economic policy no longer serves America’s economic interest.

About the Author

Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, is the author of The Betrayal of American Prosperity.



During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, both major party candidates rejected the notion that free-trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership automatically benefit the American people. Global economic circumstances have indeed changed since the end of World War II. “Increased globalization may make less sense now than it did in the recent past.”

In the early 1800s, both Alexander Hamilton and George Washington understood that Adam Smith’s free-market, free-trade arguments only work if every country plays by the same...

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