chapter  5
21 Pages

The crowding out of academic economics: the case of NAFTA

ByThe case of NAFTA Arjo Klamer and Jennifer Meehan

When both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in November 1993, it seemed a victory for economic principles. With the decision to endorse a free trade zone in the North American hemisphere, the Congress endorsed the principle of free trade over protectionism, the value of efficiency over that of equity, and general interest over special interests. In reality, though, political arguments crowded out serious economic arguments – that is, the arguments of academic economists. Where they had played nicely along in the prelude to the debate, academic economists had no role to play when it came to the final act. As we shall show in the following analysis, political and moral arguments prevailed.1