Wednesday's Wall Street Journal brought front-page news (subscription only) of a somewhat protected change-of-heart by Princeton economist Alan S. Blinder, a former Fed vice-chair and member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, who only a few years ago declared, “Like 99 percent of economists since the days of Adam Smith, I am a free trader down to my toes.”
Nowadays Blinder is a little gone in the faith, primarily because of his own calculations suggesting that 40 million American jobs are in danger of being shipped abroad “in the next decade or two.” Oh, he’s still against anything that smacks of protectionism---he favors the United States playing more to its “comparative advantage,” a la 19th century British economist David Ricardo---but he’s warning that the changes wrought to society by mass outsourcing will be similar to those that resulted from the Industrial Revolution, which if we remember correctly were kind of a big deal.
The WSJ story on Blinder was accompanied by a box showing his estimates of potential U.S. losses of “highly offshorable” jobs. Among the numbers of endangered were 389,090 computer programmers, 296,700 data-entry workers, 178,530 graphic designers and 180,910 financial analysts.
And 12,470 economists.
They say there's an upside to everything.