Alex Tabarrok on the Coming Good Times

A few months back, Alex Tabarrok, the Independent Institute’s visionary Director of Research, spoke at TED on the prospects for long-run economic progress. His theme: ideas trump economic crises. (You can now see his talk online here.)

The continuation of global economic integration, he explained, will bring more and more benefits to ordinary people around the world. To this commonplace he added a simple but profound twist: more and more brainpower will be devoted to fixing problems that affect a relatively small proportion of world population. More medical research, for example, will be directed to treating less common maladies.

Another highlight (for me) was his formulation of the gains of free trade: The reduction of average customs tariffs, from about 40 percent in 1940 to below 5 percent today, has a generally ignored moral aspect to it. As Alex put it, “We globalized the world—and what does that mean? It means that we extended cooperation across national boundaries—we made the world more cooperative.”

Here are two related pieces by Alex:

“Dismal Science Sees Upbeat Future” (, 1/16/08)

Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science

Update: Here is an interview with Alex at TED. Alex, of course, blogs with Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.

Carl Close is Research Fellow and Senior Editor for The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of The Lighthouse, The Independent Institute’s weekly e-mail newsletter.
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