Orthodoxy, trade and the developmental state

I love the internet. I love what it’s becoming, what it’s capable of becoming. A few years ago, the blogosphere (I hate that word) was dominated by enthusiastic amateurs. That is, it was filled with people who, in so far as they had any speciality, had it in entirely separate fields, but were interested in the topics they wrote about. It still is, and that’s great. Public debate is always good.

But now we are seeing professional thinkers stepping into the arena. University professors are emerging from their ivory towers and using the web to debate each other in the public sphere. That is freakin’ awesome. Here’s a recent example …

Patricia Cohen, of the New York Times, wrote this piece: In Economics Departments, a Growing Will to Debate Fundamental Assumptions. In it she quoted the views of, among others, Alan Blinder (Princeton), David Card (U.C. Berkley) and Dani Rodrik (Harvard).

It elicited quite a response in the various academic blogs. Three of them that are worth checking out:

It’s that last one by Don Boudreaux that I want to focus on. In it, he criticised the views of Dani Rodrik in particular and issued Dani a challenge.

Dani Rodrik replied: What’s different about international trade?

Brad DeLong (U.C. Berkley) was watching and gave his opinion: Don Boudreaux vs. Dani Rodrik on Industrial Policy: I Call This One for Don–I Think It’s a Knockout

Dani Rodrik then updated his original post with a rebuff to Brad DeLong.

Brad DeLong stepped up with a more lengthy post: DeLong Smackdown Watch: Dani Rodrik Strikes Back

3 Responses to “Orthodoxy, trade and the developmental state”


  • Kind of like the old republic of letters where refutations and put downs were passed around or read out loud in the local shops and gatherings.

  • Yes, exactly. My wife wasn’t nearly so impressed by this because they weren’t discussing concrete suggestions for particular countries/regions, but were instead speaking in the abstract. She has a point, but I’m just happy to see them get involved in such an accessible forum. I’m sure these discussions take place over drinks in Cambridge, MA — I know they do at LSE — but since 99.999% of the planet doesn’t live there, it’s nice to get at least some insight into what they’re thinking.

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