Regular readers will recall that I occasionally take Tim Worstall to task for some of his opinions about development, especially his articles at TechCentralStation. For example, I disagreed with him on the role of the supply side in development). I don’t mean it personally: Tim is the man for whom the term "irrepressible" was invented.
It is with a mixture of pleasure and surprise that I can report that his article today on trade is, in my humble opinion, not bad at all. Tim rightly draws attention to the connection between the consumption of physical and natural capital and the level of poverty (ie poor countries tend to have to run down their natural endowments more rapidly than do the rich). However, the relationship between poverty and trade is more complex than he suggests: free trade is certainly an important component in development, but it is not the only determinant of how quickly countries will lift themselves from poverty. Nonetheless, I share his hope that rich countries will accelerate progress to free trade at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in December, in the interests both of rich and poor countries.
As an aside, I cannot resist drawing attention to his choice of TechCentralStation as a platform for his writings. TechCentralStation is a right-wing, corporate lobbying front. I personally wouldn’t want my articles sandwiched between articles advocating Intelligent Design. I know Tim has got to earn a living somehow, but this isn’t an organization whose money I would be happy to take.
Tim has edited an anthology of the best of British bloggers in 2005, 2005 Blogged, which will be coming out later this year. You can order it here from Amazon (buying it after clicking that link will give me a small commission).