Krugman on Pop Internationalism
By David Henderson
In the comments on my post on Paul Krugman’s Hooverite view of wages, we had an interesting discussion of Krugman’s work over the years. I’m a big fan of much of his work in the 1990s and one of the commenters asked for more leads. While Bryan likes The Accidental Theorist, my favorite Krugman book is Pop Internationalism. Here are some choice quotes from a chapter titled, “What do Undergrads Need to Know About Trade?”
To put in perspective the extent to which the U.S. economy is globalized, Krugman writes:
the United States is not now and may never be as open to trade as the United Kingdom has been since the reign of Queen Victoria.
In criticizing the idea that whole countries need to be competitive, Krugman writes:
An international economics course should drive home to students the point that international trade is not about competition, it is about mutually beneficial exchange. Even more fundamentally, we should be able to teach students that imports, not exports, are the purpose of trade. That is, what a country gains from trade is the ability to import what it wants. Exports are not an objective in and of themselves: the need to export is a burden that the country must bear because its import suppliers are crass enough to demand payment.
Does that sound to you like the point the heroic Don Boudreaux has made in many letters as part of his one-man crusade to get the newspapers to be more literate about trade? Me too.
I could quote many more nuggets from the same essay. But I want you to read it.