Guest Contribution: “Brexit, Trump, and Workers Left Behind”

Today, we are pleased to present a guest column written by Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. This is an extended version of a column appearing at Project Syndicate, July 13.

Many parallels have been pointed out between the June referendum on Brexit in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the US. One parallel is that both the British movement to leave the EU and the Trump campaign for the American Republican nomination achieved success that few had expected, particularly not the elites — political, economic, cultural, and academic. In both cases, the general interpretation is that the elites underestimated the anger of working class voters who feel they have been left behind by economic forces in a fast-changing world, and in particular by globalization.

Another parallel is the centrality to both campaigns of promises that are close to logically impossible, and the consequent inevitability with which supporters will feel betrayed when the promises do not come true. In the United Kingdom, one of the promises that cannot be kept is that if Britain left the EU it could somehow still keep the same trade access to its members, while yet reducing immigration by curtailing free mobility of persons. Another promise that cannot be kept is that the £350 million ($465 million) supposedly sent to the EU each week would be reallocated to the cash-strapped National Health Service. On my side of the Atlantic, Trump says that he will bring back the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared. Secondly, as most Republican candidates do, he promises to enact big tax cuts while simultaneously reducing the budget deficit or even the national debt.

It is true that, for some years, most national income gains have been going to those at the very top, with many workers having fallen behind. Apparently this inequality and globalization, and the perceived connection between the two, play a large role in the anger among many workers that we see in the Brexit and Trump campaigns. It is far from clear that either trade or migration is in fact among the top reasons for widening inequality. But that is the way many see it.

It is certainly true that globalization produces both winners and losers. How can the concerns of angry workers be addressed?

A fundamental proposition in economics holds that when individuals are free to engage in trade, the size of the economic pie increases enough that the winners could in theory compensate the losers, in which case everyone would be better off. Formally it is a case of what economists call the Second Fundamental Welfare Theorem. (The proposition requires that there be no market failures like monopolies or pollution externalities.)

Skeptics of globalization may understand this theorem and yet, quite reasonably, point out that the compensation in practice tends to remain hypothetical. Some of the skeptics suggest that we should recognize political reality, take the failure to compensate losers as given, and so work on trying to slow down or roll back globalization. But an alternative would be the reverse strategy: to take globalization as given and instead work on trying to help those who are in danger of being left behind.

The second strategy is the sensible one, not the first. For one thing, it would be difficult to roll back globalization even if we wanted to. Presumably the policies would include attempting to renegotiate NAFTA or TPP (or, for Britain, the EU), or dropping out of the World Trade Organization, or else unilaterally imposing tariffs and quotas even though they violate existing international agreements. Even leaving aside the negative effects of trade wars on economic growth, anything that a president does would be very unlikely to bring trade back down to the levels

of 50 years ago, and still less likely to bring the number of steel jobs back up to the levels of 50 years ago. Globalization is a reality.

That we can’t turn back the clock on globalization is understood fairly widely. But a second point is less often made. In the context of US presidential elections, the choice between the two parties is less a referendum on globalization than it is a choice whether to adopt the specific policies that would help those who are in danger of being left behind. Much is new and different in the 2016 election, but not that.

Policies to help those who are left behind [or, in clinical theoretical terms, to compensate the losers] are precisely where the two parties disagree. They most effective measures, as I see it, are ones that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, like his predecessors, try to push and that the Republicans try to block.

The main program to help specifically those who have lost their jobs due to trade is Trade Adjustment Assistance. But why help only the small number of workers who have identifiably lost their jobs due to trade agreements? Wouldn’t it be better to help those who have been left behind regardless if the cause is trade, technology, or something else? Sensible policies to do that include wage insurance, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and universal health insurance, among others. Also: a more progressive payroll tax structure, universal quality pre-school, and infrastructure investment spending. These are all policies favored by Democrats. Most have been opposed by Republicans. [Still, one hopes that even if a second President Clinton once again had to deal with a Republican Congress, the two might be able to find common ground in the EITC and infrastructure investment.]

Not long ago, it was possible to admire the sort of political equilibrium achieved by the British electoral system. The two largest parties tended to be led by relatively competent and consistent leaders who represented relatively well-demarcated stances on the issues: right-of-center in the case of the Conservatives and left-of-center on the part of Labor. Voters could make their choices based on the policy issues. Under a parliamentary system, the victorious prime minister could work to carry out the policies that he or she had campaigned on. It compared favorably to the ever-worsening gridlock of the American system, where presidential initiatives could and would be blocked by congressmen from the opposite party, even when the initiatives were consistent with philosophies that they themselves had espoused in the past.

To state the obvious, the British system has broken down. Some of those competent leaders eventually made fatefully ill-advised decisions: Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax, Tony Blair’s support for the US invasion of Iraq, and David Cameron’s decision to hold the Brexit referendum. What is now left is a mess. It is hard to discern much clarity or consistency in the new crop of English politicians. When the next election is eventually held, the voters could well be asked to choose between parties that do not correspond in any clear way to the relevant policy decisions that Britain must make, mainly whether to seek to negotiate a relatively close association with the EU or to cut off completely.

In some familiar ways the American political system has also deteriorated in this election cycle, bringing past trends to a reductio ad absurdum. But the American political situation at the moment has an advantage that the Brits lack: an ability for voters to choose what is to be the national policy orientation. The Democrats still favor policies like wage insurance and universal health insurance and the Republicans still oppose them. So American voters in 2016 are still able to make the relevant choice, either for or against policies that deal with the reality of globalization by helping those who are left behind.

This post written by Jeffrey Frankel.

56 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: “Brexit, Trump, and Workers Left Behind”

  1. Joseph

    It’s put up or shut up. Do the redistribution first or no more trade deals that benefit the wealthy, period.

    Maybe the globalization advocates need some motivation. Otherwise its just cheap, self-serving talk.

    1. efcdons

      Exactly. What leverage do those wanting the redistribution have to make said redistribution occur? If we take for granted the globalization is going to happen then why should people who want globalization and no redistribution (the people who are winning now) agree to redistribution? Nothing is forcing them to do so. They are getting what they want already. Agreeing globalization is happening regardless and we should work on redistribution is like the opposite of how one would negotiate if they actually cared about introducing redistribution that will make a difference. Therefore it seems to be the people like Professor Frankel who support globalization regardless of redistribution while muttering pities about how the losers could be compensated don’t actually care about the losers being compensated as long as globalization as it is currently conceived still happens.

  2. Ed Hollison

    I think we may be in danger of exaggerating the importance of economic factors like international trade in explaining political and sociological phenomena like Trump or Brexit.

    For instance, if we assume that stagnant wage growth is a big part of this, is international trade (or in Britain’s case, labor mobility) the main culprit? Professor Frankel is far more equipped to answer this question than I, but I would suspect that deliberate policy changes related to taxation, spending on public services/infrastructure, education etc have as much a role to play as international trade, finance, and labor. As the author himself reminds us, democrats have been calling for much more robust assistance for middle class workers impacted by international trade, but have essentially been blocked. My point is that the root of these movements is very much entangled with deliberate policy choices.

    The other risk I see is that we are assuming voters make logical, linear connections between what they see in their lives and how they vote. For instance, voters deeply concerned about fiscal sustainability are more likely to favor Trump, a candidate whose policies would likely explode the national debt. The reality is that politics is more about satisfying the emotional wants and needs of voters than it is promising the policy mix that actually maximizes their welfare. It’s been like that for a while, but with the proliferation of tabloid news, social media, etc., I think this has really taken off. I wonder, then, how much economic outcomes really matter. it seems framing issues and clever PR is more important than the issues themselves.

  3. N

    The main premise of this article is just not true: globalization is not a natural phenomenon. It is shaped by a wide variety of domestic and foreign policies that determine the outcomes, the winners, and the losers. The winners want everybody to believe that globalization in its current shape and form is inevitable. Absolutely not true. Imagine what globalization may look like if, for example, US pushes for a global reform of the currency exchange regimes. What if the Fed acted like the Bank of Japan when China started accumulating yens and pushed up the yen exchange rate? BoJ simply fought back. The massive trade deficits are not a natural phenomena either. They cost US jobs and debt and reversing them is not a rocket science. Again, the main premise of this article is deeply disingenuous.

  4. PeakTrader

    Of course, there’s more income inequality in the U.S.. Globalization (open markets, free trade, and unrestricted capital flows) created millions of high-paying jobs, while immigration (which displaced lower-skilled domestic workers and depressed wages) created millions of low-paying jobs.

    Government should provide a strong safety net (rather than the massive fraud in the earned income tax credit, the low quantity and high price of health care, unneeded college degrees, etc.) when workers lose their jobs.

    Even in this slow growth economy, there are many opportunities. Individuals need to make the appropriate choices to improve their lives and raise their incomes. Good government policies, which are too few, can actually help those individuals.

  5. Bruce Hall

    Changes do not necessarily occur overnight:

    That said, the loss of EU membership may be outweighed, at least somewhat, by the increased flexibility to negotiate bi-lateral treaties and create policies more conducive to Britain’s specific needs. An economy as large as GB’s does not disappear or become unattractive to other nations simply because it changes its course.

  6. Rick Stryker


    You are arguing that Brexit and the Trump phenomenon are similar in that angry workers in both countries, stung by income inequality which they attribute partially to globalization, are surprising the elites by falling for the false promises of either Trump or the Brexiteers. Instead, these angry workers should understand that it is their best interest to support the welfare state policies that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are proposing. This view seriously misunderstands the politics of both situations. Brexit and the Trump phenomenon may be superficially similar, but there are very different concerns driving them.

    Most people in the UK, including the Brexiteers, are in favor of globalization. In fact, Brexiteers by and large support the single market and want to remain in it. The concerns that the Brexiteers have with the EU fall into three main areas:

    1) The most important issue is UK sovereignty. Brexiteers see the advantages of the single market but do not want to be part of the EU’s political integration. Currently, UK law is subordinate to EU law. The EU is seen by Brexiteers as fundamentally undemocratic. The European Commission, which is not directly elected, has enormous power. Unlike in the US, EU laws do not originate in the EU parliament but rather than in the EU Commission, which combines legislative and executive powers. The EU Commission churns out regulations that are automatically enforced in all EU states, many of which make no sense in the UK. Brexiteers believe that Article 125 of the Lisbon Treaty explicitly prohibited the Eurozone bailouts but they happened anyway. The EU wants to have common law, a common foreign policy, and a European army. To Brexiteers, the EU bus is hurtling inevitably towards full political integration run by an undemocratic bureacracy that will not have the UK’s interests at heart. Brexiteer and European Parliament MP Daniel Hannan is probably most associated with these concerns. Sovereignty was the most important issue for Leave supporters according to surveys.

    2) The second big issue is migration. EU citizens have the right to live and work in any of the 27 EU countries, the three EEA countries, and Switzerland. It’s essentially an open borders policy which by and large I think people support. There are perhaps 2.5 million EU citizens working in the UK and over a million UK citizens working in the EU countries. The concern on unfettered migration is mostly around the new EU joiners in Eastern Europe as well as the probable eventual inclusion of Turkey in the EU. The economies of the recent EU joiners are not as advanced and wages are low. The UK is a very popular destination for EU citizens from these countries, who take the low wage jobs. But this reduces wages of the most vulnerable UK workers and increases the stress on social services and the National Health Service. Brexiteers want to have some limits on migration. Indeed, David Cameron proposed in his November 2015 letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk migration limits on new joiners in the EU until their economies have converged with the economies of the existing EU members. According to surveys, migration limits was the second most important issue for those who voted to leave.

    3) The third issue is economic. Brexit supporters understand the benefits of the single market. However, the single market comes with baggage that they don’t support. Many feel the EU regulatory burden is much too high and they’d like a situation in which the UK doesn’t automatically adopt regulations coming from Brussels. More importantly, since the EU is a customs union, the UK is not free to negotiate its own trade deals with non-EU companies. The Brexiteer criticism of the EU–made notably by economist Patrick Minford–is that the EU is a protectionist organization with respect to non-EU countries. Brexit supporters want to be out from under the thumb of the EU so that the UK can have more free trade with non-EU countries.

    Can the UK achieve all of this–continued access to the benefits of the single market, but with more sovereignty, some restrictions on migration, and more free trade? I think it’s possible but difficult, given the political situation. But it’s certainly not logically impossible to reduce payments to the EU, increase sovereignty, increase free trade, and put some limits on migration, all while maintaining access to the benefits of the single market.

    The situation is very different in the US. While the Brexiteers want more free trade and only some restrictions on an essentially open borders policy, the Trump supporters want less free trade and a curb on illegal immigration. The desire for less free trade is not motivated by income inequality so much as the recognition that trade, particularly with China (and Mexico) has had differential effects on the labor force, although beneficial overall. Economist David Autor and his co-authors have made I think a fairly convincing case that trade has negatively affected workers in the US in certain industries. People know that on the ground and Trump is appealing to these voters. Interestingly–and perhaps dangerously for Hillary–Trump’s appeal in this regard cuts across the political spectrum: blue collar Democrats as well as many of Bernie’s supporters would like to see limitations on trade.

    Thus, I don’t think you can say that a rejection of globalization is what Trump and Brexit have in common. In the US, there is rising opposition to free trade agreements. But I don’t see why the welfare state policies of the Democrats are the answer.

    1. sherparick

      Funny Mr. Libertarian does not mention the primary reason for Brexit, the massive immigration into the U.K. over the last 20 years as the EU expanded into Eastern Europe.

      (Ironically, per this chart, the U.K. was sending out more emigrants in the 1960s, 70s, and even somewhat the 80s. ) The sovereignty issue had little meaning for most people, it was pressure on the NHS and having to live next to a bunch of Poles and Romanians that drove the British mad.

      The free movement of labor is one way labor can adjust and adapt to the free movement of capital that is the essence of “Globalization.” Unfortunately, people are not machines and often find strange people with strange customs offensive (especially if they think the jumping the que for Government benefits like the National Health Service.)

      1. Rick Stryker


        If you had read my comment more carefully, you would have seen that I explicitly mentioned the issue of immigration from Eastern European countries into the UK as well as the pressure on social services as being an important factor for Brexit.

        But if you read a little more carefully still, you would see that I did not assign the migration issue primary status as you did but said it was the second most important issue for those who voted to leave. The most important issue, I claimed, was the sovereignty issue. If you look at this Lord Ascroft survey, you will see that Lord Ashcroft surveyed 12,369 people who actually voted in order to find out what motivated them. The most important issue for Leave voters, whether Conservative or Labour, at 49% was UK sovereignty, The second most important issue for both Conservative and Labour Leave voters, at 33%, was immigration. The survey has a lot of other interesting data.

  7. spencer

    Let’s take a look at Trumps proposals.

    He promises that his policies will make US manufacturing competitive with imports.
    Currently US firms can not compete with foreign firms at the prices they receive for exports to the US.
    Consequently, for US firms to become competitive the prices of their products and the import competition will have to rise.

    So Trump is promising higher US inflation and that is suppose to make labor better-off?

    Can anyone disprove this analysis?

    Just as an aside, the CPI for goods excluding food and energy has been falling for the last several years.

    1. PeakTrader

      Some U.S. manufacturing cannot compete with some countries, because those countries have almost no regulations and exploit their workers. And, American workers are many, many times more productive than workers in those countries.

    2. PeakTrader

      The U.S. is competitive in many manufacturing industries. And, allowing progress in clean coal technologies, for example, to move forward, rather than destroying coal production through excessive regulations (and curbing global warming!?), will raise living standards.


      “…the US leads the world in airplane manufacturing…Main industries include petroleum, steel, automobiles, construction machinery, aerospace, agricultural machinery, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, and mining.

      The U.S. produces approximately 21% of the world’s manufacturing output, a number which has remained unchanged for the last 40 years.

      The job loss during this continual volume growth is explained by record breaking productivity gains. In addition, growth in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, aircraft, heavy machinery and other industries along with declines in low end, low skill industries such as clothing, toys, and other simple manufacturing have resulted in U.S. jobs being more highly skilled and better paying.”

      1. spencer

        According to the BLS manufacturing productivity over the past 5 years has been at all time record lows and was actually negative in 2014 and 2015.

        What is the source of your claims about productivity peak Trader?

    3. PeakTrader

      While U.S. manufacturing employment declined from about 20 million in the late ’70s to a little over 12 million today, China’s manufacturing employment soared:

      2011 Report: China manufacturing hourly labor rate, compensation costs impact EMS (Electronics manufacturing services)

      “China’s manufacturing employment continued to grow from a total of 97.91 million at the end of 2007 to 99.01 million at year end 2008.

      Though manufacturing workers in China are earning more than ever before, average hourly compensation costs were only $1.36 in 2008.

      China’s hourly compensation costs remain far below those of many of its East Asian neighbors like Japan [$27.80] and Taiwan [$8.68], but are roughly on par with those of others like the Philippines [$1.68].

      Even as China ascends as a major economic player in the global economy, its position in the international landscape of labor costs has not changed dramatically.

      As measured in U.S. dollars, Chinese hourly labor compensation costs in manufacturing were roughly 4% of those in the United States and about 3% of those in the Euro Area in 2008.

      As of the end of 2008, China’s employed population was reported to be 775 million, constituting 58% of the country’s total population. Of the population ages 15 to 64, 77% was employed, which is high from an international comparative perspective.

      Meanwhile, youth population ages 0 to 14 has shrunk to an unusually small proportion of the population for a developing country.

      Indeed, a key determinant of China’s paradoxically tightening labor market is low fertility.

      China’s family planning and one-child policies have significantly reduced fertility and kept it low during most years since the 1970s and today manufacturing employers are reporting that they cannot get the rural migrant workers to return to urban units, and are having difficulty luring new employees as well.”

  8. 2slugbaits

    Jeff Frankel A lot of academics tend to hang out with smart folks like themselves, so they don’t always appreciate the nitwit factor with many voters. Cognitive dissonance runs coupled with economic illiteracy gives us nitwit voters. You may well be right that globalization is too far along to be reversed, but that argument falls on deaf ears for most voters. And even if they agreed with your premise, that doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t want to reverse globalization. Cognitive dissonance in the service of self-delusion is no vice! So I believe you’re overthinking the Brexit and Trump phenomena. For 90% of the voters it’s largely tribal, so they will vote for anyone with an “R” or “D” after his or her name no matter what. Elections are won or lost by appealing to the stupidest, least engaged, low information voter. Sad but true. Like a stopped clock, sometimes that 10% gets it right. Other times…not so much.

    Bruce Hall An economy as large as GB’s does not disappear

    Except it could shrink dramatically if Northern Ireland and Scotland decide for independence. That would leave England and Wales (a.k.a., the land of alcoholic poets). The only vibrant piece of a rump Britain would be London, and it’s not obvious that London’s financial sector status can be maintained post-Brexit.

    Rick Stryker Did you attend cosmetology school? I have to admire your ability to put lipstick on a pig. I seriously doubt that Brexit voters in the most economically illiterate parts of England and Wales understand what a common market entails. It’s that old cognitive dissonance thing again. Brexit voters want the benefits of a large export market, but don’t want to import labor. Brexit voters seem to believe they can have a common market without common regulations governing that market. And Trump voters here believe they can have increased defense spending, an expensive wall, a shrinking population, deficit reduction and tax cuts all at the same time. Old, angry white Trump voters demand that their SS/Medicare benefits be expanded (and Trump says he supports those demands), but at the same time they insist those same benefits should be cut for future generations. And of course the White Geezers for Trump crowd want all this out of their deep felt concern for their grandchildren. What Brexit and the Trump phenomena demonstrate is mankind’s amazing ability to rationalize everything without be rational about anything. Quite a trick.
    You should be very skeptical of politicians who play the patriotism and local sovereignty card; those are the last refuges of a scoundrel. Be especially wary of nativist politicians who talk about self-determination out of one side of the mouth and the sing the praises of the good old days of empire when Britannia ruled the waves.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Like so many in the US, it sounds like you know virtually nothing about the politics of Brexit. I’ve said this more than once but it’s important for you to get out of your left wing echo chamber long enough to realize that there are points of view different from your own and those who hold them aren’t necessarily idiots afflicted with cognitive dissonance.

      Coverage in the US of the Leave side has been superficial and one-sided. I’ve yet to see anyone in the media or elsewhere present the Brexit side of the argument. I watched the NBER Brexit panel discussion moderated by Jeff, hoping that I’d see a little more objective analysis. But I just saw people speaking from the same point of view agreeing with each other, and sometimes talking about issues that they have no real expertise in.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Rick Stryker I know this much about the politics of Brexit: the “remain” vote won big in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. The “leave” vote won big in Wales and England (sans London). The distribution of the vote reflected a house divided. I also know that cognitive dissonance is an apt and fitting description of anyone who simultaneously supports the idea of self-determination while also longing for the good old days of empire. If you want a common market without common regulation, that’s cognitive dissonance. If you want to export goods and services but don’t want to import goods and services, that’s cognitive dissonance. It’s not a question of my not understanding other sides of the issue. It’s a question of Brexit voters not understanding that they want to support mutually incompatible positions. And on the US side how else would you describe the ability of GOP delegates in Cleveland to simultaneously support the GOP platform and still cheer what Trump said during his acceptance speech? The platform is anti-LGBT, but Trump’s speech was quite LGBT friendly. The platform supported globalization and free trade, but Trump talked about protectionism and building a wall. The platform calls for a vigorous defense posture, but Trump wants to reconsider NATO. Being able to support all of those positions at the same time is cognitive dissonance on steroids.

        1. Rick Stryker


          You are showing your ignorance of the politics of Brexit again. Supporting self-determination while yearning for the days of empire, wanting a common market without common regulation, or wanting to export goods and services but not wanting to import them–these are not part of Brexit. Look at my original comment again: those 3 items are the motivation for those who voted Leave.

          Trump is a different matter. The difference between Trump’s positions and traditional Republican positions reflects the schism going on inside the Republican Party. The Bush’s, Romney, and John Kasich refused to attend the convention. Cruz refused to endorse Trump. Probably a minority of Republicans support Trumpism. The rest are holding their noses, thinking that he’s the lesser of two evils.

          I think PJ O’Rourke sums up the feelings of many conservatives who are struggling to support Trump. As O’Rourke put it on NPR:

          “I have a little announcement to make … I’m voting for Hillary. I am endorsing Hillary,”

          “I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It’s the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”

          O’Rourke is alluding to the tail risk with Trump. Trump’s recent foreign policy comments to the NYT sounded downright dangerous, for example.

          1. 2slugbaits

            Rick Stryker The difference between Trump’s positions and traditional Republican positions reflects the schism going on inside the Republican Party.

            I think it would be more accurate to say that Trump is shrewdly exploiting the bait-and-switch tactics used by two generations of Republican establishment candidates. The chickens have come home to roost. He is also exploiting the cognitive dissonance of many GOP foot soldiers and Tea Party types who don’t seen to understand that Trump says one thing one day and something else completely different another day, but yet the true believers find themselves agreeing with both. If Donald Trump wasn’t such an unreflective moron I’d half suspect that he’d read Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue and operationalized all of the cultural contradictions swimming around us. Personally, I don’t think Trump has any beliefs whatsoever. He’s just a con man who thinks it would be an ego boost to be President. Hey, he even offered Kasich the Veep job with the option to be czar over both domestic and foreign policy. Trump just wants to title out of vanity. He’s basically a used car dealer with a better tailor.

            As to what motivated Brexit for some “leave” voters, I don’t think you should put too much trust in surveys of clueless voters. Their cognitive dissonance is strong evidence that they don’t know their own minds, so why trust the results of a survey? People don’t like to think of themselves as racists, so instead they invent stories about Turkey joining the EU and immigrants overwhelming the NHS. And when people talk about losing sovereignty, what they really mean is “take back my country.”

  9. baffling

    slug, it is interesting the party of fiscal concern is embracing trump, whose policies, when stated at all, are basically to spend and spend. his policy prescription to spending, oh he will simply negotiate better. so trump pays for his policies with vague allusion to better deals. ryan pays for his policies with asterisks.

    it has been interesting to see how the propaganda has flowed in this weeks convention. there has been a fair amount of direct support for trump. but a lot of the speakers are promoting the platform “vote republican because we hope our candidate will not be worse than Hillary”. i’m in cleveland this week, and it has been an interesting week thus far. glad to see the events have been mostly peaceful. although it has been interesting, there has not been much vocal support for the open carry laws from the conventioneers. local police union actually wanted to suspend open carry rights in the county. you can carry an open gun into downtown area, but you cannot carry a tennis ball! curious whether the lack of protests mean opponents do not really take a trump presidency seriously? or do they take the possibility of police/protestor violence seriously?

    1. 2slugbaits

      baffling What’s even more disturbing is how so many Trump supporters worry about a strong Executive power under Obama, but at the same time they crave a “strong leader” and man on a white horse to come and save the country. They compare Hillary Clinton to Lucifer and then support someone who admires (and in many ways resembles) Vladimir Putin. Bless their little hearts, it’s all such a muddle in their poor little heads.

      1. PeakTrader

        Whether you agree or disagree with Trump and whether he’s right or wrong, he connects with increasingly more people, like Reagan in 1980.

        He’s a real threat to the Washington insiders. It’s revolutionary and it’s amazing. Who would’ve thought.

        It’s fascinating watching Trump destroy career politicians 🙂 And, a lot of lobbyists may need to find another job soon.

      2. baffling

        slugs, i read the trump speech but only watched some of it live. i must say, the parts i did see left me a little disturbed. as i watched, i wondered if this was what if felt like during the rise of fascism in europe nearly 75 years ago. i got the feeling of watching a strong man state his case. as you said, if somebody has legitimate concerns about obama and executive overreach today, then those same people should be scared to death if trump were to take office. but i have not heard a peep from any of those in the “executive overreach” camp. the trump campaign reinforced those already supporting him-not sure if it is going to be effective in drawing in needed independent support for the general election.

  10. DavidNZ

    There has been a globalized world (1890’s – 1920’s) in the past and then that system has fallen apart and tariff barriers re-erected. There is nothing to suggest that the same thing will not happen again.

    Local manufacturers will eventually win the battle with their local financial elites and local importers because at the end of the day local employment depends on local industry.

    A global trading system can only be maintained between consenting nations if consumers are able to afford to buy the products of producers. If trading blocs such as the EU and China do not recognise that reality then eventually protectionist barriers will be erected.

    Loaning money to consumers to buy products or subsidising consumers who have lost their jobs will eventually have to end when the wealth of the country that is giving the loans/subsidies to it’s citizens declines and the govt runs out of tax revenues from business and employed citizens. Elites who view resources as being constrained then hasten the process by stealing what is left.

    Trump is saying things that are quite true in relation to international trade and the need to bring balance back between producing and consuming nations. Whether he would actually do anything when in power
    is I think doubtful.

  11. Rick Stryker

    This article states that “one of the promises that cannot be kept is that if Britain left the EU it could somehow still keep the same trade access to its members, while yet reducing immigration by curtailing free mobility of persons.” This is close to “logically impossible.”

    As a matter of politics, it may be true that this promise won’t be met–because the EU has to agree. But why say that it can’t be– that it’s close to logically impossible that it can’t be? The panelists on the NBER Brexit panel accepted this view as if it is some sort of axiom of geometry. Why?

    1. baffling

      with limited resources (discussion time), why would you spend any of it on an outcome that effectively cannot occur. you are technically correct that it is not an impossible outcome. but spend time discussing issues that are most likely to occur, not least likely to occur.

      1. Rick Stryker

        You are just repeating what Jeff said. Why is it an “outcome that effectively cannot occur?”

  12. baffling

    “As a matter of politics, it may be true that this promise won’t be met-because the EU has to agree”

    This is your statement Rick. Apparently you agree with what Jeff and myself have stated. you are arguing for the sake of argument. Or you could provide evidence on why that outcome would be likely to occur. But you will be hard pressed to fulfill such argument. Again, until somebody can present a valid argument on how those promises could be met, such outcomes are unlikely and thus not of interest with limited discussion time. Most people want to focus on real problems and real solutions, not hypothetical problems with convenient solutions.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Obviously I don’t agree with what you and Jeff said on this issue. You said it “effectively cannot occur.” Jeff said it was a promise that cannot be kept. I said it might not be kept. I understand the political arguments that there can’t be an agreement that restricts migration while maintaining access to the single market. Economist Richard Baldwin (with agreement from everyone else) made that argument in the NBER Brexit panel that Jeff moderated. It’s the standard argument of the pro-Remain side. But I do think it’s an exaggeration to say that’s the only way things can happen.

      You may be surprised to learn that I was pro-Remain. The free movement of persons is fine with me. My concern about the EU is around the loss of UK sovereignty primarily. The problem with Brexit was that many of its supporters were making silly promises but without any real plan for what to do if it actually happened. If someone had put out a realistic alternative plan, I may well have gone over to the Brexit side. However, we are where we are. We can’t ignore the freedom of movement issue–politically it will likely have to be part of any negotiated settlement. So we should ask ourselves how it might be possible to put some restrictions on migration in while maximizing access to the single market, rather than saying dogmatically upfront that it’s not possible.

      1. baffling

        “So we should ask ourselves how it might be possible to put some restrictions on migration in while maximizing access to the single market, rather than saying dogmatically upfront that it’s not possible.”

        rick, you can try to maximize access, nobody said that could not occur. but the implication of many, prior to the vote, was simply they would maintain the same access as in the past while stopping immigration. that effectively was an incompatible argument. you are willing to accept the shades of grey, no argument here. but the brexit vote was not argued in shades of grey. it was argued in black and white. it was that argument which was incompatible, not your new position.

        “But I do think it’s an exaggeration to say that’s the only way things can happen.”
        as i said previously, provide a valid argument in your favor and i am willing to listen. but you will find a valid argument rather difficult to produce, which is why such a position has not been given much air time.

        1. Rick Stryker


          Yours, Jeff’s, Baldwin’s, and the other NBER Brexit panelist’s view that you can’t have access to the single market while having limits on migration has already been falsified. The Telegraph had an article today entitled Tory MPs react with fury as EU leaders consider UK ’emergency brake’ on free movement which said:

          “Tory MPs have reacted with fury after it was reported that EU leaders are considering allowing Britain curbs on freedom of movement whilst retaining access to the single market.”

          I’m not surprised at that news although you must be since you said that’s an outcome that “effectively can’t occur.”

          The fact that Tory MPs reacted with fury should alert you to your misunderstanding of the politics of Brexit. Some Brexit supporters wanted access to the single market and curbs on immigration. But many didn’t want that. To regain British sovereignty, they did not care if the UK is out of the single market. You probably don’t know what the European Economic Area is, but that’s one way to stay in the single market and not be in the EU. Many Brexit supporters rejected the EEA as a solution during the Brexit campaign.

          I’m not going to bother spell out the details, since it would be a waste of time with you, but I’ll leave you with this. Jeff and the NBER panelists do not understand the legal and political aspects of Brexit. It’s absolutely possible to be in the EEA, with access to the single market, and still put curbs on migration. (See article 112 of the European Economic Area agreement.) It’s also possible to not formally be in the single market but to effectively be in, with curbs on migration. Whether the various parties will come to a deal is of course a different question–the Tory’s are divided on what should be done.

          1. baffling

            “Yours, Jeff’s, Baldwin’s, and the other NBER Brexit panelist’s view that you can’t have access to the single market while having limits on migration has already been falsified. ”
            incorrect. it has not happened. you cannot report a proposal as fact. in addition, according to the proposal, the UK will have to pay EU significant sums of money to maintain such a position. do you really think that is likely, since those voting to leave also did so because they disliked the tax paid to the EU?

            once again, anybody is free to make a proposal. the question is whether it can actually come to fruition.

          2. baffling

            yeah, you are a real no spin zone bill, er i mean rick.

            “As a matter of politics, it may be true that this promise won’t be met”

            your statement was actually stronger than “might not”. again, you are simply arguing for the sake of arguing. i imagine you’re a smash at parties!

  13. Rick Stryker


    You seem to be channeling Paul Krugman in your comment above. You just can’t past the Left Wing conceit that everyone else is so stupid. Do you really think Trump’s supporters don’t notice that he changes his views? Of course they notice. I would advise you to put down Krugman’s column and go talk to some real Trumpsters. Trump’s appeal is that people believe he’s a successful businessman who knows how to solve problems. His supporters trust that he will put the best people on the problem and solve it once he gets in office. That’s why they give him a pass on what his solution will be or his flipflopping.

    Your dismissal of the Brexit survey is more textbook Left Wing conceit. So you know what the clueless, cognitively dissonant racists really believe, despite what they actually said? That must be because you are much smarter and better than they are, right?

    1. PeakTrader

      Rick Stryker, you say above you support the free movement of people.

      What if tens of millions of foreigners and their children decide to flee to the Western United States rather than fight to improve their governments?

      Would that improve the quality of life in Western U.S. states? Would that improve the quality of life of the people who remain in those countries?

      Would it change those foreign governments?

      1. Rick Stryker

        Peak Trader,

        I was saying that in the context of Brexit I was not worried about the free movement of persons as an issue. When free movement was agreed some years back as one of the four fundamental freedoms, it was relatively uncontroversial since the agreeing states were all the same level of economic development. Free movement in the EU is different from the US. In the EU, every EU citizen has the right to live and work in any EU country. The UK benefits from that since an estimate 2 million UK citizens live and work in EU countries outside of the UK. Tons of UK pensioners live in Spain and France. By and large, the UK has benefited enormously from free movement of persons.

        The controversy today is about the admission of states (e.g. from Eastern Europe) that are at a different stage of economic development. I understand the concerns about that but from my point of view that problem is not sufficient for me to advocate Brexit.

        1. PeakTrader

          Yes, I agree, the free movement of people between Western European countries, like within U.S. states, is beneficial.

          And, I agree, adding developing countries, particularly with large populations and unacceptable governments, creates problems.

    2. baffling

      rick, you do not believe that racism, either intentional or unintentional, is not a major factor in both the trump and brexit phenomena?

      1. PeakTrader

        i think, Trump believes legal immigrant minorities have, at least, the same potential as everyone else.

        And, he knows most of them always vote for the other party, no matter what, and are more political.

      2. PeakTrader

        Anyway, you’re advancing the Democrat race card based on a false narrative and political correctness, although it works.

        The Democrats spend more time on politics and enjoy it the most. We’ll see if Republicans, who use to be Democrats, like Reagan and Trump, are most successful.

      3. Rick Stryker

        Let’s see. How would you answer this Baffling? Oh, right. Something like this:

        you need to make an argument as to why racism, intentional or unintentional, is a major factor in Brexit or Trump. provide a valid argument in your favor and i am willing to listen.

        1. baffling

          actually rick, you came into the discussion and basically said “i am right, you are wrong. i can’t tell you why you are wrong, but trust me i am right. but i cannot explain why i am right either”

          you argue for the sake of arguing.

          or you could answer the simple question.

          1. Rick Stryker


            I think it would be interesting for you to point where I said I’m right, you’re wrong, trust me I’m right, but I can’t explain why I’m right. Those who follow my comments will know that they tend to be filled with arguments and facts, links to facts, links to academic papers, calculations, derivations, etc. My comments are quite distinct from your own content-free commentary.

    3. 2slugbaits

      Rick Stryker Actually, I haven’t really had a chance to read much of Krugman lately, so I really don’ know what he has to say on the matter. But I do know plenty of Trump supporters and a lot (I would guess more than half) are not aware that Trump has changed his position on issues. They hear what they want to hear. Trump is something of the “Rorschach Man” in that regard.

      As to the Brexit voters, when people hold all kinds of contradictory positions, then yes I think it’s fair to say that an outside observer probably knows their true positions better than those who are being surveyed. That’s why sophisticated surveys ask a similar question many times over with slightly different slants each time. It’s to get past the mental jujitsu they perform as part of a rationalizing effort. Good surveys try to tease out people’s true feelings. And I say “feelings” as opposed to “thoughts.” The Brexit voters might not have thought of themselves as racists, but they aligned themselves with political leaders who are clearly racists. Are you trying to tell us that the UKIP isn’t a racist party?

      1. Rick Stryker


        The survey is trying to distinguish concerns about sovereignty from concerns about migration as a motive for voting Leave. Those are starkly different reasons and you don’t need a highly nuanced survey to differentiate them.

  14. baffling

    peak, i have noticed many people in this election cycle use the argument against political correctness simply as a defense of racism and bigotry. and i would imagine, you and i have rather different definitions of racism.

    1. PeakTrader

      Political correctness is dishonest.

      Some people can’t handle the truth.

      So, it has to be racism.

      1. baffling

        go ahead, tell us your true feelings peak. what is the truth. racism does not exist in the 21st century?

          1. PeakTrader

            Menzie Chinn, do you believe, for example, blacks are many times more violent than whites, because of race or something else?

            Even Jesse Jackson said he feels safer walking in a white neighborhood than a black neighborhood. Do you think he doesn’t know anything about statistics?

          2. PeakTrader

            Also, I may add, when I was in college, I had a black friend from Kenya. I was surprised he made negative comments on American blacks. He didn’t like them much. However, employers loved him. Race was never an issue.

            Moreover, his group, from African countries, who all spoke English and Swahili, sort of “adopted” me and race wasn’t important at all.

          3. baffling

            And many people with racist tendencies, even if unintentional, are unaware of their behavior. That is why businesses are constantly conducting diversity and awareness training. If you believe it is simply political correctness run amok, you are wrong. And probably one of the persons who should attend the diversity seminar.

  15. Rick Stryker


    You can only make your silly argument because you are completely unaware of the details or context of anything you comment about.

    Prof Frankel is reflecting the view of the pro-Remain economists in his claim that it’s close to logically impossible to have access to the single market and some restrictions on migration at the same time. If you want to understand why they believe that, go watch Prof Baldwin lay out the argument at the NBER Brexit panel, available on the internet.

    As usual, any discussion with you goes nowhere. If you want to have a real discussion on this, write down Baldwin’s points and tell me why you think he’s right on each point. Then I’ll tell you my criticisms.

    Just as a preview, one of Baldwin’s points is that there will be no negotiation between the UK and the 27 remaining EU countries. Instead, the countries will get together without the UK, decide what they want (with each having a veto) and then present it to the UK as “take or leave it.” In this view, Baldwin is relying on point 4 of Article 50, which states that the EU Council will deliberate on the deal without the UK being allowed to participate. This is one reason (among others) why Baldwin and the other panelists are so confident that access to the single market coupled with restrictions on migration is close to impossible.

    But if this view were correct, we shouldn’t be reading about negotiations on single market access and migration restrictions in the press. That was the point that you missed.

    Even on this narrow part of Baldwin’s argument, there are many counter-points that could be made:

    1) Point 4 of article 50 only applies after Article 50 is invoked, which the UK is not obligated to do on any specific timetable.
    2) Negotiation could well happen before Article 50 is invoked. The belief that it won’t happen is a political prediction that is contradicted by the EU’s history of negotiation.
    3) Only the negotiating guidelines require unanimity of the Council. The negotiating directives, which are much more specific, require a qualified majority.
    4) Even if Article 50 is invoked, the sequence is not really that the 27 EU countries come up with their position and then give it to the UK with no possibility of negotiation. Legally, it is highly likely that the UK can uninvoke Article 50 after it’s been invoked. Indeed, there were reports that the French legal service told the French government this. The remain campaign argued that once Article 50 is invoked the UK would have very little negotiating leverage since either there is a withdrawal agreement or the UK is out in 2 years if there is no agreement. Therefore, the EU could present the deal to the UK as a fait accompli and the UK would have very little room to negotiate. But that’s not really true legally.
    5) Article 50 only applies to the withdrawal agreement. While that’s important, the much more important agreement concerns the new relationship, which is not really covered by Article 50.

    I covered just one part of Baldwin’s argument. There’s a good bit more if you care to look. Prof Kashyap asked during his talk, “Why did the experts get so little credibility?” Well, after watching the discussion, I was thinking: Maybe it’s because everybody’s saying the same thing and no one is challenging anyone else’s assumptions? Maybe it’s because you guys are talking primarily about questions of politics and law and aren’t really experts on this?

    Of course, Baffles, I’m sure you will not take me up on my proposal but will instead respond with more empty commentary.

Comments are closed.