Reading this CEPR post got me thinking about to what extent social science can reliably pinpoint something like a ‘China effect’, as described by the authors, and what the larger ramifications are.
In fact, I put together a little dashboard (which I describe here) to visualise some of the data referenced in the above study. Just out of curiosity and for the purpose of practicing visualisation, I added some other data from EU Commission and Google Books which ultimately reminded me more of wildly chasing correlations, as humorously visualised here.
The regressions shown by Guiso et al. on perceived economic security and corresponding attitudes towards political parties and immigrants speak a strong language. Hopefully, the full paper will reveal the methods used by the authors to define Chinese exports to Europe as part of a “globalisation shock“ (Guiso et al. 2018). The interconnection between economic insecurity (linked by the researchers to imports from China and monetary policy constraints) and, what is described here as, populism deserves closer examination and needs to be addressed by politicians across the spectrum. This directly relates to what it means, for instance, when US President Trump demands “fair” trade relations.
The issue immediately generates much more food for thought:
- Can the political and economic justifications for free trade policies, as supported by the EU Commission for example, be maintained or do they need to be reevaluated in light of the ‘China effect’?
- Would a reduction of market access restrictions by the Chinese government offset the ‘China effect’ and therefore vindicate proponents of free trade? Or will the ‘China effect’ gradually subside once the country passes the Lewis turning point?
- What is the Chinese government’s view towards “fair trade”, given that foreign companies have for decades now embraced and profited from the outsourcing model? And what prescriptions does Relational Theory of International Politics hold for the management of trade?
- Is there such a thing as perfect “fair trade” or can it only ever be “fairer”?
I will try to expand on this topic by giving the full study as well as the cited Rodrik (2018) and Colantone and Stanig (2018) a read…
Guiso, Luigi, et al. ” The populism backlash: An economically driven backlash.“ voxeu.org (May 2018), https://voxeu.org/article/populism-backlash-economically-driven-backlash.