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Is the Globalization Consensus Dead?

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The development economist Dani Rodrik recently declared that “the globalization consensus is dead”. The claim has momentus implications, because this consensus has steered economic policy around the world for the past quarter century. It emanates from the heartland of neoclassical economics, and defines the central tasks of the Washington-based organizations which claim to speak for the world. This essay answers two main questions. First, is Rodrik's claim true, and by what measures of “consensus”? Second, to the extent that the consensus has substantially weakened, is the state returning to the heart of economic life, as Karl Polanyi might have predicted? The answers? First, the globalization consensus about desirable economic policy has weakened, though it is far from “dead”. Second, the western state is returning to the heart of economic life in response to the current global economic crisis, but will retreat soon after national economies recover—because unless the crisis becomes a second Great Depression, the norms of more free markets and more global economic integration will be politically challenged only at the margins. New rules of finance may be introduced, but with enough loopholes that by 2015 Wall Street and the City will operate in much the same way as in the recent pre-crisis past.

Keywords: globalization consensus, Washington consensus, financial crisis, income distribution, poverty, catch-up growth, pension funds

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2009.00720.x

Affiliations: Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK;, Email: r.wade@lse.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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