Economists: Pay More Attention to Economic Losers

Jean Tirole, Nobel Prize-winning economist and winner of the 2018 George S. Eccles Prize for Economics for the Common Good, explains why economists must listen to those who are not benefiting from global trade policies at the 2018 George S. Eccles Prize and Speaker Forum.
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Dean Hubbard: Do you think economists have actually lost sight of the common good? Have we become so siloed in what we do in our craft that we’ve lost sight? Or is this a fixable issue?

Jean Tirole: Well, I think we need to understand how people feel a bit more. Before this we were talking about trade policy, and we agree that trade policy is good for mankind. It’s good clearly for China and India, where 500 million to one billion people have been raised out of poverty – but even for countries like France and the US it’s actually beneficial.

The question is, even though we say there are losers and winners, we don’t pay enough attention, for example, to the losers, who of course feel frustrated by what has happened. And they are there in every country – the empirical evidence is there in the Midwest in the US. But even in Germany there is a big shift; there are lots of people who feel frustrated by what has happened. We have to pay more attention I think to this common good.

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