To keep up to date with the latest WTO talks, I just turn to Ben Muse and Peter Gallagher. (BTW: I entitled one of my posts "Do or Die", referring to the Doha Round - inadvertently plagiarizing one of Ben Muse's post titles. I regret the coincidence!)
I finally got around to the browsing the World Bank publication on Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Round (HT: again, Ben Muse.) The article by Anderson, Martin, and van der Mensbrugghe reports a simulation analysis from removing trade distortions in agriculture and manufacturing by WTO members. (The summary is already in Ben's post, so no need to reiterate it here.) I can think of no better evidence of the ineffectualness of the academic economist than the impending failure of the Doha round, and the complete neglect of impact studies like this in the negotiation process.
Instead, this is getting more support: Anti-globalists continue to call for halting all trade liberalization. Why they find studies like this unbelievable?
Sheer ignorance and misunderstanding could be the explanation. As I've written before, it all starts with Ricardo. His model is a simple one, with two goods, and fixed ratios of factors to outputs, fixed technology, and no explicit model of consumption. The models found in Anderson and Kym are basically elaborations - many goods, and ratios of factors to outputs may vary (given a general specification of the input to output relationship), explicit consumption. And in the World Bank's LINKAGE model, equilibrium is dynamic, hence technological progress is built-in. As a sign that Ricardo's doctrine is fundamentally correct, despite this enormous added complexity, free trade turns out to still be welfare-increasing. Countries specialize in goods for which they have the lower comparative cost. Period. If you don't get Ricardo right, all of this elaborated analysis is going to fly over your head.
Anti-globalist groups style themselves as advocates of development and poverty reduction. So why their uncompromising stance? Is the ignorance hypothesis correct, or is it something deeper?