Dani Rodrik

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Dani Rodrik is the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Previously he was the Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has published widely in international economics and globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy.


A Progressive Logic of Trade [More...]
Dani Rodrik rebuts the argument that existing trade agreements are essential to reducing global poverty. "Globalization’s cheerleaders do considerable damage to their cause by framing the issue as a stark choice between existing trade arrangements and the persistence of global poverty."
Economics: Science, Craft, or Snake Oil? [More...]
Dani Rodrik laments that while economics has innumerable models, it has very few tools for deciding which model is appropriate. He also points out that simple answers, such as support of free trade, rely on long lists of preconditions which are seldom met.
Free-Trade Blinders [More...]
Dani Rodrik presents thought experiments to a class on globalization. He shows that justice issues play an important role in our judgements of what sorts of redistribution from free markets should be considered fair.
How the Rich Rule [More...]
"A politics based on cultural values and symbolism rather than bread-and-butter interests. When politics is waged on these grounds, elections are won by those who are most successful at “priming” our latent cultural and psychological markers, not those who best represent our interests."
Milton Friedman’s Magical Thinking [More...]
Dani Rodrik explains how Milton Friedman "blinded us to the evident reality that all successful economies are, in fact, mixed."
The Nation-State Reborn [More...]
Dani Rodrik points out that laissez-faire has not and cannot supplant the nation-state.


Globalization’s cheerleaders do considerable damage to their cause by framing the issue as a stark choice between existing trade arrangements and the persistence of global poverty[...] In fact, the most phenomenal export-oriented growth experiences to date -- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China -- all occurred when import tariffs in the US and Europe were at moderate levels, and higher than where they are today[...] Progressives should not buy into a false and counter-productive narrative that sets the interests of the global poor against the interests of rich countries’ lower and middle classes. With sufficient institutional imagination, the global trade regime can be reformed to the benefit of both.
Dani Rodrik, "A Progressive Logic of Trade"
Now let the reporter go undercover as a student in the professor’s advanced graduate seminar on international trade theory. Let him pose the same question: Is free trade good? I doubt that the answer will come as quickly and be as succinct this time around. In fact, the professor is likely to be stymied by the question. “What do you mean by ‘good?’” he will ask. “And good for whom?” The professor would then launch into a long and tortured exegesis that will ultimately culminate in a heavily hedged statement: “So if the long list of conditions I have just described are satisfied, and assuming we can tax the beneficiaries to compensate the losers, freer trade has the potential to increase everyone’s well-being.” If he were in an expansive mood, the professor might add that the effect of free trade on an economy’s growth rate is not clear, either, and depends on an altogether different set of requirements.
Dani Rodrik , "Economics: Science, Craft, or Snake Oil?"
Every first-year graduate student learns the First Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics, which says essentially that provided a long list of conditions are satisfied, a market equilibrium is efficient in a particular way--that is, you cannot make someone better off without making someone else worse off. Now you can read the theorem in two, radically different ways. One is to say: "There you have it! We knew Adam Smith was right all along, but here it is stated in mathematically precise way and proved to everyone's satisfaction. Now let the government get out of the way and have the markets work their magic." The other is to say: "Wow, hold on! You mean we need so many conditions for markets to produce efficient outcomes? No externalities, no returns to scale, no market power, markets for everything and for every point in time... I better get my theorems of the second-best straight!"
Dani Rodrik, "If you are a progressive, you've got to love neoclassical economics"