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Opinion

Globalization’s Political Fault Lines

By Nouriel Roubini

Nouriel Roubini Opinion

For workers to accept more labor mobility and flexibility as creative destruction eliminates some jobs and creates others, appropriate schemes are needed to replace income lost as a result of transitional unemployment.

The United Kingdom’s narrow vote to leave the European Union had specific British causes. And yet it is also the proverbial canary in the coalmine, signaling a broad populist/nationalist backlash – at least in advanced economies – against globalization, free trade, offshoring, labor migration, market-oriented policies, supranational authorities, and even technological change.

All of these trends reduce wages and employment for low-skill workers in labor-scarce and capital-rich advanced economies, and raise them in labor-abundant emerging economies. Consumers in advanced economies benefit from the reduction in prices of traded goods; but low and even some medium-skill workers lose income as their equilibrium wages fall and their jobs are threatened.

In the “Brexit” vote, the fault lines were clear: rich versus poor, gainers versus losers from trade/globalization, skilled versus unskilled, educated versus less educated, young versus old, urban versus rural, and diverse versus more homogenous communities. The same fault lines are appearing in other advanced economies, including the United States and continental Europe.

Read full article as published in Project Syndicate.

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Nouriel Roubini is a Professor of Economics and International Business and the Robert Stansky Research Faculty Fellow.