Ha-Joon Chang has been described by Martin Wolf—the FT commentator—as the world’s most effective critic of globalisation. The South Korean economist writes a short, provocative piece in the new issue about how we have misunderstood the protectionism of the 1930s and how we should not be afraid of some open, limited protectionist measures now. His point is that it is happening anyway because political pressures insist on giving priority to national interests when recession strikes—the important thing is to distinguish between what is acceptable protectionism and what is unacceptable protectionism. Surely it is legitimate for the British government to insist that, when it invests in a bank, the bank gives priority to lending to companies and households in Britain. Similarly there will be a tendency for public procurement to favour local employment. Such measures do not require 1930s-style trade tarriffs and could surely be made compatible with the EU single market, at least for a limited period. Ha-Joon Chang’s views are, however, regarded as extremely dangerous by many mainstream economists: let us hear from some of them.
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