A more pragmatic approach to trade

Book review: Backlash: Saving globalisation from itself Supporters of an open global economy may have exaggerated the benefits and underplayed the costs.


Globalisation has become something of a dirty word, due to evidence that it has resulted in stagnating incomes and increased inequality in developed countries. The authors of this monograph from Radix, a think tank, concede that supporters of an open global economy have exaggerated the benefits, and underplayed the costs.

They argue that the current system of wide-ranging trade agreements mostly focused on cutting tariffs which aren't even the primary barrier to trade any more needs to be replaced with a more pragmatic approach, based around sector-by-sector agreements and minimum levels of labour and environmental standards. This would avoid trade deals being derailed by small disputes and also ensure that gains didn't come at the expense of the middle class.

As well as looking at globalisation in general, the final third of the book considers how Brexit will affect Britain's trade policy. While Britain will gain the flexibility to negotiate trade deals that reflect British preferences, it will also put the UK outside of one of the largest trading blocs in the world. As a result, they strongly suggest that the UK should stay within the European Economic Area, at least for the first five years.

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Even if you don't agree with all their suggestions, the authors make intelligent points, and deftly occupy the middle ground in a polarised debate.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri