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Noah Smith

Americans Get Free Trade's Dark Side

There might even be more losers than winners.
Not everyone will like what it's carrying.

Not everyone will like what it's carrying.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw -- my doctoral adviser’s doctoral adviser -- is a great researcher, wickedly smart and possessed of exceptional intuition. His introductory economics textbook, which has earned him a reputation as America’s economics teacher, happens to be my favorite (with apologies to Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, whose book is also good). But I have to say, I don’t really like the way Mankiw presents economic ideas to the general public in the news media.

Mankiw likes to boil things down for public consumption. For example, take his recent article in the New York Times about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Now, I’m strongly in favor of the TPP. I think it’s going to do a lot of good. But Mankiw is being too simplistic when he defends it by repeating the same basic case for free trade that we’ve been hearing all our adult lives: