Yearly Archives: 2014

Keynesian Economics And Thievery

In a WSJ opinion piece titled An Autopsy for the Keynesians, John H. Cochrane makes the following accusation on Keynesian Economics:

By Keynesian logic, fraud is good; thieves have notoriously high marginal propensities to consume.

Cochrane’s piece reads as assertions after assertions trying to prove that fiscal policy is impotent. Keynesians emphasize the role of effective demand in the determination of national income and expenditure. Hidden in Cochrane’s misprepresentation of Keynesian economics is the assumption that Keynesians think that the supply side does not matter.

No Keynesian would ever say that. In fact Keynesians emphasize that although the principle of effective demand is highly important, output of a nation or a geographic region is finally constrained by the capacity to produce and international competitiveness of its producers. If a nation promotes fraudsters, its capacity to produce will be lower than the case where honesty is promoted. If a nation is full of thieves, Keynes wouldn’t even take off: any attempt by the government to use Keynesian policies will fail to improve real output.

So not just morally, but even from an economic viewpoint, Keynesian economics doesn’t not promote fraud.

Cochrane’s WSJ piece just highlights the sad state of Macroeconomics.

Merry Christmas!

Sergio Cesaratto’s Debate With Marc Lavoie On Whether The Euro Area Crisis Is A Balance-Of-Payments Crisis

Sergio Cesaratto has a new paper Balance Of Payments Or Monetary Sovereignty? In Search Of The EMU’s Original Sin – A Reply To Lavoie. (html link, pdf link)

I obviously agree with Sergio Cesaratto.

As long as there is no supranational fiscal authority, a Euro Area nation’s economic success is more restricted by its exports than otherwise as there is no mechanism for fiscal transfers. The European Central bank can of course backstop and to some extent it has done so, but it cannot let fiscal policy of nations become independent of balance of payments beyond a certain extent. If it does so, nations’ public debt will rise together with net indebtedness to foreigners relative to output and this will become unsustainable. The European Central Bank (the Eurosystem less the domestic National Central Bank) will become a huge creditor and this will not be acceptable to the rest of the Euro Area. (There is of course the question whether this would be morally right but I do not think it is immoral beyond a limit).

To some extent, Mario Draghi has acted the opposite and pushed austerity, but one cannot assume unlimited power for the ECB (Eurosystem to be precise).

The other way to check that it is indeed a balance-of-payments crisis is to simply see the net international investment position of nations. This chart is from 2011 (intentionally chosen to be old).

ea17-2011-niip-reused

 

The nations troubled most had huge net indebtedness to foreigners. If it is not a balance-of-payments crisis, how does one explain that countries such Germany and Luxembourg had far less troubles than Greece and Portugal?

Abstract of the paper:

In a recent paper Marc Lavoie (2014) has criticized my interpretation of the Eurozone (EZ) crisis as a balance of payments crisis (BoP view for short). He rather identified the original sin “in the setup and self-imposed constraint of the European Central Bank”. This is defined here as the monetary sovereignty view. This view belongs to a more general view that see the source of the EZ troubles in its imperfect institutional design. According to the (prevailing) BoP view, supported with different shades by a variety of economists from the conservative Sinn to the progressive Frenkel, the original sin is in the current account (CA) imbalances brought about by the abandonment of exchange rate adjustments and in the inducement to peripheral countries to get indebted with core countries. An increasing number of economists would add the German neo-mercantilist policies as an aggravating factor. While the BoP crisis appears as a fact, a better institutional design would perhaps have avoided the worse aspects of the current crisis and permitted a more effective action by the ECB. Leaving aside the political unfeasibility of a more progressive institutional set up, it is doubtful that this would fix the structural unbalances exacerbated by the euro. Be this as it may, one can, of course, blame the flawed institutional set up and the lack an ultimate action by the ECB as the culprit of the crisis, as Lavoie seems to argue. Yet, since this institutional set up is not there, the EZ crisis manifests itself as a balance of payment crisis.

Excerpt from the conclusion:

… To conclude, since the EZ is closer to a fixed exchange rate regime rather than to a viable, U.S.-style CU, the euro-crisis is akin to a classical BoP crisis. True, the existence of T2 and the possibility of some ECB backing to troubled local sovereign debts make some difference. However, the limits to an ultimate action by the ECB in connection to the absence of other institutions that compose a viable CU render its action necessarily restricted. One can, of course, blame the lack of these institutions and of an ultimate action by the ECB as the culprit of the crisis, as Lavoie and De Grauwe seem to maintain. Yet, since those institutions are not there, the EZ crisis manifests itself as a balance of payment crisis …

Finally, remember the balance-of-payments constraint manifests itself as lower domestic demand and output as much as financial crises.

In general — in other institutional setups, the importance of the government’s power to make drafts at its central bank is exaggerated. It is highly important of course, but problems of balance-of-payments restrain the power of governments in having a fiscal policy independent of what is happening in international trade. In the Euro Area, the lack of critique of the “Common Market” is striking. One can however see these discussions in the works of Nicholas Kaldor.

Unlimited TARGET2 power?

An important point in the current discussion is around the issue of limits of TARGET2. It is true that the TARGET2 system has large powers to absorb imbalances. The intra-Eurosystem debts need not be collateralized. However, when there is capital flight from a nation, banks become more indebted to their NCB. This process can go on for a long time but ultimately it is restricted by collateral banks can provide to their NCB for replenishing lost settlement balances. There is of course the ELA, Emergency Loan Assistance, but this too is limited beyond a point. There is a lot of politics involved here with some nations complaining unfairly on debtor nations’ use of the ELA, but beyond a certain point, their complaints may be fair.

To summarize, TARGET2 is a big shock absorber: beyond what any economist may have expected, but it cannot absorb shocks beyond a limit.

John McCombie Reviews Marc Lavoie’s Post-Keynesian Economics: New Foundations

John McCombie is one of my favourite economists. He is the co-author of the book Economic Growth And The Balance-Of-Payments Constraint, one of the most supremely insightful books.

McCombie has written a review of Marc Lavoie’s book Post-Keynesian Economics: New Foundations, which is the second edition of his book titled Foundations of Post-Keynesian Economic Analysis.

He says:

… the greatest significance of this work is that it clearly demonstrates that there is a coherent and interrelated body of economic theory that stands in marked contrast to the neoclassical framework. Indeed, with the deficiencies of the prevailing orthodoxy exposed by the subprime crisis the publication of this book could not have come at a more propitious time. Some post-Keynesians have concentrated on attacking the foundations of the neoclassical paradigm … to such an extent that it could (and has been) unfairly accused of nihilism.

But as Kuhn has pointed out, a paradigm can only be overthrown by the development of a  new paradigm and Marc‘s book shows that there is a substantial corpus of Post Keynesian that meets this criterion. Criticisms of a paradigm is not enough to cause a change in the world view of the practioners …

… It is worth re-emphasizing that one of the great successes of this book is that it takes many important contributions of the Post Keynesians which may otherwise have been lost buried in the journals and integrates them into a coherent story; in a very real sense the sum of this work is greater than the parts.

Marc Lavoie - Post-Keynesian Economics - New Foundations

Read the full review here.

Economists Without Borders (Economistes Sans Frontières)

by Thomas Palley

Inspired by the work of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), I have recently started a project called Economists Without Borders (Economistes Sans Frontières). Its purpose is to inoculate the global economy against the virus of neoliberalism. Last week, I had two difficult “missions” to Vienna and Warsaw.

In Vienna, I confronted an outbreak of the neoliberal globalization – free trade strain of the virus. Without doubt, this is the most virulent and dangerous of all strains. People who get infected become blind to all evidence, deaf to all argument and prone to intellectual condescension. Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC is a hot zone of infection. The bad news is that if you are over forty and infected it is doubtful you can be cured. However, younger patients have a chance of recovery. Here is the anti-viral I prescribed titled “The Theory of Global Imbalances: Mainstream Economics vs. Structural Keynesianism”.

In Warsaw, I confronted an outbreak of Milton Friedmanism which is one of the oldest strains of neoliberal virus. Friedmanism is a gateway virus that weakens defenses against other neoliberal strains and younger minds are particularly susceptible to it. The good news is that if diagnosed early there is a good chance of recovery. However, if treatment is delayed, intellectual ossification and closed-mindedness sets in. This ossification is almost always associated with inflation obsessive compulsive disorder and austerity fever. Here is the treatment I recommend titled “Milton Friedman’s Economics and Political Economy: An Old Keynesian Critique”.

This post originally appeared here on Thomas Palley’s blog here

Strong Assertions: Reply To A Comment [Update 2]

I don’t generally publish comments and reply offline via email but this one needed one on the blog.

Winterspeak commented on my previous post Strong Assertions:

Deliberate obtuseness ramanan?

A 15% interest rate will certainly reduce borrowing as a first order effect, but it will also have another first order effect which will move AD in another direction. You know what this is, why not address it directly? And then why not respond to Mosler’s primary point directly as well?

I don’t think warren’s problem is that his writing is too simple.

My response below:

Deliberate obtuseness? My post was clear that the assertion that economists have it backward is quite wrong and misleading. I do in fact mention the effect of higher interest rates because of interest payment on government debt. In my post, I said

Finally the point about interest income on government bonds: it is true that if interest rates are higher, the private sector is receiving more income from the government and this is one factor to consider among all factors which affect aggregate demand. But there is no reason to assume that this effect is always higher.

In stock-flow consistent models, one sees the long run output depend positively on interest rates. But short term, this effect isn’t always positive except in simple pedagogic models.

My example of 15% was not really purely academic. Such an experiment happened in the UK in the 70s where interest rates were raised sharply and it led to a contraction of output. Several firms had to close down because of a rise in debt burden. The full story is in Nicholas Kaldor’s book The Scourge of Monetarism. I suppose Winterspeak thinks Monetarism cannot be a scourge. There were additional effects as well. The exchange rate appreciated  and led to a rise in imports contracting domestic demand even more than via other factors.

One cannot simply say that a rise in interest rates will lead to a rise in interest payments on government debt and that hence domestic demand and output will rise because of this. Suppose the government debt is 60% and let us say the average interest rate on government debt rises by 2% initially. This will lead to an additional interest payment of 1.2% to the private sector. This does not increase output by 1.2% automatically. It depends on the interest receivers’ propensity to consume. If this is say 0.2, the first order effect is a rise in output by 0.24% only. (Higher order effects are via income/expenditure multiplier process). However, borrowing also depends on the interest rate. Suppose fixed capital formation by firms and households reduces by more than 0.24%, the latter has had a bigger negative effect than the positive effect of the former.

So the effect depends on interest elasticity for borrowing and propensity to consume from interest income. But that is not all. A rise in interest rates may also lead to a fall in asset prices and which has wealth effects on economic activity. There are other complications as well which I do not need to go into in detail because my point is made. In many countries, a lot of households took various kinds of mortgages which have amortization schedule highly sensitive on interest rates. If interest rates are raised, their monthly payments will increase leading to a lower consumption. Of course, it can be argued that the interest paid is income to some other economic unit, but one needs to look into who the interest receiver is, how their behaviour and so on.

Update

After I posted this, I received a comment again from Winterspeak:

Please.

A 15% FFR will impact more than income from the Government. And the only people assuming that a “rise in interest rates will only have one effect” are you and Monetarists. Talk about being overly simplistic.

I recommend leaving strawmen out of it and focusing on the meat of the argument.

Puhleeze!

Winterspeak tells me of being overly simplistic and attacking a strawman.

But look who is overly simplistic here. Winterspeak simply announces that a 15% rise in interest rates will have more impact than the income from the government. Clearly he has not understood much. My post talked of the propensity to consume of the interest earners and also the mutliplier effects of this. There is no reason that the effect of this (including multiplier effects) is greater than 1.

Plus Winterspeak seems to completely  ignore the negative effects on borrowing: proving my point. Ignoring intermediate consumption, the gross domestic product is the same as output which is (in a simple closed economy model):

C + I + G

where C is household consumption, I is private fixed capital formation and G is “pure” government expenditure (which doesn’t include interest payments on government debt) i.e., government consumption and fixed capital formation.

While C may rise because of higher interest earned by households because of higher interest income. can fall more because of high interest rates. It is also not clear if C will necessarily rise. This is because if households have large liabilities (such as mortgages), their disposable income will fall due to a rise in interest rates (and hence interest payments) and hence consumption as well.

Update 2

After I wrote the above, I received a patronizing comment by Winterspeak:

Great — you’re slowly getting closer.

So what did Warren actually say and why? Or, in other words, what is the logical next step from your (third) post?

Let me argue again. Let us use subscripts 1 and 2 for time periods.

Initially the GDP is

C1 + I1 + G1

Now interest rates are raised to 15%. The GDP is

C2 + I2 + G2

With pure government expenditure remaining the same,

G2 = G1

Interest expenditure of the government is not counted in production. G stands for government consumption expenditure and expenditure on fixed capital formation, not total government expenditure. (Ignoring changes in inventories for simplicity, both for firms and the government). Of course, the interest income should appear somewhere, and it will make an appearance in the consumption function.

Fixed capital formation is assumed to depend on interest rates, so

I2 < I1

Consumption depends on income, holding gains and previously accumulated wealth and propensities to consume. Propensities can depend on the type of income (compensation of employees, interest income, income via dividends) and so on.

Less fixed capital formation implies firms hire less. This means compensation paid to employees is lesser than before and also since fixed capital formation of firms is also an income flow for firms as a whole, a reduction implies less profits and dividends paid to households.

Hence, despite households receiving higher interest income on government debt, their total income is likely less than before with interest rate at 15% and hence,

C2 < C1

This implies:

C2 + I2 + G2 < C1 + I1 + G1

Which was I intended to show.

Funnily, Winterspeak puts me in the same position of Monetarists but it is him who is being a Neo-Fisherite here. (Referring to Krugman’s terminology is not an endorsement to his monetary economics.)

Strong Assertions

In a recent article (from last month), Warren Mosler makes strong claims. He says:

I reject the belief that economy is strong and operating anywhere near full employment. I also reject the belief that a zero-rate policy is inflationary, supports aggregate demand, or weakens the currency, or that higher rates slow the economy and reduce inflation.

What I am asserting is that the Fed and the mainstream have it backwards with regard to how interest rates interact with the economy. They have it backwards with regard to both the current health of the economy and inflation, and, therefore, their discussion of appropriate monetary policy is entirely confused and inapplicable.

Furthermore, while I recognize that raising rates supports both aggregate demand and inflation, I am categorically against raising rates for that purpose.

The problem with the mainstream credit channel is that it relies on the assumption that lower rates encourage borrowing to spend. At a micro level this seems plausible- people will borrow more to buy houses and cars, and business will borrow more to invest. But it breaks down at the macro level. For every dollar borrowed there is a dollar saved, so any reduction in interest costs for borrowers corresponds to an identical reduction for savers. The only way a rate cut would result in increased borrowing to spend would be if the propensity to spend of borrowers exceeded that of savers. The economy, however, is a large net saver, as government is an equally large net payer of interest on its outstanding debt. Therefore, rate cuts directly reduce government spending and the economy’s private sector’s net interest income.

I don’t understand why as a heteredox author, Mosler simplifies his analysis so much.

This post is not about discussion about whether it is time to raise interest rates in the United States. It’s not the time. It is about Mosler’s claim that monetary policy works opposite to what is usually assumed.

This oversimplification can easily be debunked. If the central bank raises the short term interest rate to say 15% from 0.25%, it will obviously lead to a reduction in borrowing. Firms will reduce investment and stock building as higher rates will require them to pay higher interest and the expectation that the economy will slow down will dampen production. Households may postpone plans for purchases of new houses and take out lesser loans and those with existing loans on floating interest rates are likely to reduce consumption when faced with a higher debt burden because of higher interest payments. Further, raising rates from say 0.25% to 15% may bankrupt a lot of firms because interest payments on debt may become very high. There are also feedback effects: a slowdown of output will lead to higher unemployment and less consumption and so on. It can be argued that interest payment by one economic unit is income for another so one needs a model to see how all this works: complications such as consumption propensities of interest payers and receivers.

Of course this effect may not be so strong if the short term interest rate is raised from 0.25% to say 2% but asserting that there is no effect and that the effect is exactly the opposite is too simplified a claim.

Does that mean that rising short term interest rates is always accompanied by a lower output? No. Monetary policy is only one channel. It is possible that while the central bank is raising interest rates, other things that affect aggregate demand conditions are working to raise output. For example, the government may be raising pure government expenditure while the central bank is raising rates, or exports are rising.

Now reconsider Mosler’s point quoted above:

For every dollar borrowed there is a dollar saved, so any reduction in interest costs for borrowers corresponds to an identical reduction for savers. The only way a rate cut would result in increased borrowing to spend would be if the propensity to spend of borrowers exceeded that of savers.

Not sure what that means. Dollar is not fixed in quantity. Further an economic unit may be both a net borrower and a saver. To see this think of a simple example: Your disposable income is $1mn, your consumption is $200,000 and you borrow $4.2mn to buy a house for $5mn. Your saving is $800,000 and your net borrowing is $4.2mn. You are both a saver and a borrower. Also, I am not sure how “propensity to spend of borrowers” means, as long as one is talking of borrowing to not make purchases of financial assets: all that is borrowed is spent, so this propensity is always equal to 1.

Perhaps Mosler has in mind the debt/income ratio. In the above example, your debt/income has risen but it isn’t necessarily the case with firms as investment is self-financing. Firms may borrow more in response to a fall in interest rates. But this needn’t cause a rise in debt/income as investment is also a source of income for firms as a whole. So firms’ debt/income may actually improve.

Mosler discusses the net lending of the private sector when he is talking of “net saving” (saving less investment expenditure), which is identically the net lending. Even if the private sector as a whole sees a deterioration of their net lending position it isn’t necessarily problematic in the short run. There is no reason that this is a constant relative to output or income which Mosler implicitly is assuming.

Finally the point about interest income on government bonds: it is true that if interest rates are higher, the private sector is receiving more income from the government and this is one factor to consider among all factors which affect aggregate demand. But there is no reason to assume that this effect is always higher.

In stock-flow consistent models, one sees the long run output depend positively on interest rates. But short term, this effect isn’t always positive except in simple pedagogic models.

Mosler gives the example of Japan to show what he says vindicates him. Low rates in Japan hasn’t helped Japan. The analysis is oversimplified because output depends on so many other things than monetary policy. There is no need to make simplistic assertions. Heteredox economists will be be seen as simpletons because of analysis such as that of Mosler. Mosler’s idea of writing was perhaps to stress the importance of fiscal policy and that mainstream economists underplay the positive role of fiscal policy and exaggerate the role of monetary policy. It can be said directly instead of claiming “the mainstream have it backwards with regard to how interest rates interact with the economy.”

Thomas Palley — Rethinking Wage Vs. Profit-led Growth Theory With Implications For Policy Analysis

Thomas Palley has a new paper titled Rethinking Wage Vs. Profit-led Growth Theory With Implications For Policy Analysis.

Abstract:

The distinction between wage-led and profit-led growth is a major feature of Post-Keynesian economics and it has triggered an extensive econometric literature aimed at identifying whether economies are wage or profit-led. That literature treats the economy’s character as exogenously given. This paper questions that assumption and shows an economy’s character is endogenous and subject to policy influence. This generates a Post-Keynesian analogue of the Lucas critique whereby the econometrically identified character of the economy depends on policy rather than being a natural characteristic. Over the past twenty years, policy has made economies appear more profit-led by lowering workers’ share of the wage bill and tax rates on shareholder income. Increasing workers’ wage bill share increases growth and capacity utilization regardless of whether the economy is wage-led, profit-led or conflictive. That speaks to making it the primary focus of policy efforts.

Read the rest here

IMF’s World Economic Outlook On Global Imbalances

The IMF has released a couple of chapters from its upcoming World Economic Outlook. There is one chapter Are Global Imbalances At A Turning Point, which talks of not just “flow imbalances” (current account deficits/surpluses) but also “stock imbalances” (international investment positions).

There is a nice table with a lot of information (although it is interested in absolute indebtedness and misses out small countries with high indebtedness in the list but still good information).

IMF Largest Creditor And Debtor Economies

The article stresses that flow imbalances are not just enough to analyse the macroeconomics but stock imbalances also need to be studied. Of course, in reality deficits/surpluses are not the true measures of imbalances as Nicholas Kaldor stressed in a footnote in his 1980 article The Foundations Of Free Trade Theory And Their Implications For The Current World Recession (published in Collected Essays Vol. 9):

Morever, the actual surpluses and deficits are not a proper measure of the potential size of such imbalances (and of the deflationary force they exert) since the countries who suffer from an excessive import propensity tend, on that account, to suffer from an insufficiency of domestic demand as well so their aggregate output or income is demand-constrained; they may, in addition be forced to follow a deflationary fiscal and monetary policy, and for both of these reasons, will import less from the surplus countries than they would do under full employment conditions.

The same reasoning is valid for stock imbalances as well. The true solution to reverse the imbalances without hurting aggregate demand is to rein in free trade and expand domestic demand by fiscal policies, especially by creditor nations but with so much orthodoxy around — especially from the IMF, there still is a long way to go. The global imbalances problem itself is the result of neoliberal policies promoted by the IMF.

Credit And Economic Growth

In a new column for Bloomberg, Noah Smith questions the intuition that credit fuels economic growth.

He says:

It seems like the only people who don’t instinctively believe in credit-fueled growth are academic economists.

The academics have good reason for being skeptical.

His reason (in short) is the following:

It’s pretty obvious how credit drives my personal household consumption. If I borrow, I can get a nice big TV and a new car, but eventually I’ll have to skimp to pay it back. In a way, the consumption-fueled borrowing binge is an illusion of wealth — after all, borrowing doesn’t increase my salary. Pleasure today means pain tomorrow.

Notice how Smith’s argument uses a lot of national accounting and flow of funds concepts: consumption, borrowing, wealth, repayment (of loans) and so on. The interesting thing is that one can use the system of national accounts and flow of funds to create models which show precisely the opposite of what Smith is saying. The best place obviously to look out for is the book Monetary Economics: An Integrated Approach to Credit, Money, Income, Production and Wealth by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie which has models called stock-flow consistent models or SFC models. It is however difficult to write down a simple SFC model in a blog post, so I will try to highlight how it works in words but refer the reader to these models.

Here’s how in a simple model:

  1. Consumers decide to borrow more and banks respond by granting them loans.
  2. Consumers spend the funds received on consumption goods.
  3. Since loans make deposits, it’s not as if someone forgoes consumption to lend as neoclassical textbooks say.
  4. Firms see their inventories go down and respond by increasing their inventories by producing more.
  5. For producing more, firms hire more labour and pay salary/compensation.
  6. People newly employed spend their income and there’s further rise in production as firms produce more when seeing a higher demand for their products.
  7. Higher production leads to a rise in productivity and wages/household incomes of the already employed rise in response (although not necessarily the case).

So we have a higher output than what we started with and higher national income.

One can take several issues with this and this is one reasons models are really helpful and pinpoint what’s going on. This is the reason I referred to the book by Godley and Lavoie above. So for example, one can ask: what if the rise in the national income and output is just a rise in the nominal value but that it’s possible that prices have changed and that the real output hasn’t changed. This of course needs a model of prices and inflation but a familiarity with stock-flow consistent models will make you realize that it is an extreme assumption to think that the real output hasn’t risen in the sequence of events highlighted above.

The second thing is the above “model” in words had just banks lending to households whereas in the real world, credit (as in any credit, such as firms borrowing) is via credit markets of which banks are only one part. This issue is not so simple to argue out, but it can be shown that it really doesn’t matter (in the first approximation). I do not know how to quickly argue it out in short here but will leave that for now.

Of course the above model can be misleading. For example, if households take a lot of debt, debt repayment burden will hit and cause a slowdown as households’ consumption will drop and this may lead to an economic slowdown. This point may look similar to what Noah Smith is saying, but that is not the case. One can imagine an economy starting with a GDP of 100 and growing to 120 in some time period and then slowing down to 118 because of the debt burden. Also the above model was implicitly a pure private sector model and in general one has both the government and the overseas sector adding more complications. Again more reasons why having a proper mathematical model for such things is important.

Another critique of Smith (in my mini-exchange of tweets with him on Twitter) was that SFC models do have behavioural assumptions. I agree, but my point was that there’s no reason to dismiss the argument “credit fuels growth” by purely theoretical arguments. If at all, the system of national income and flow of funds make it more convincing that credit is important.

Of course none of this means that policies should be promoted to ease credit conditions always and try to create a boom and what Smith says is somewhat true – there can be pain later, so it is important to consider fiscal policy, balance of payments and so on but the story told here is quite different from the one told by Noah Smith.

Thomas Palley — The Theory Of Global Imbalances: Mainstream Economics Vs. Structural Keynesianism

Thomas Palley has a new paper on global imbalances. It tells the story of how “the economics profession has been a gung-ho supporter of neoliberal globalization, using the rhetoric of free trade.” and how its narrative has changed over the years to keep the rhetoric intact.

From the abstract:

Prior to the 2008 financial crisis there was much debate about global trade imbalances. Prima facie, the imbalances seem a significant problem. However, acknowledging that would question mainstream economics’ celebratory stance toward globalization. That tension prompted an array of explanations which explained the imbalances while retaining the claim that globalization is economically beneficial. This paper surveys those new theories. It contrasts them with the structural Keynesian explanation that views the imbalances as an inevitable consequence of neoliberal globalization. The paper also describes how globalization created a political economy that supported the system despite its proclivity to generate trade imbalances.

The paper is available here.