One of my favorite American bloggers, Lawyers Guns and Money, does the best critique of NAFTA and why free-trade agreements actually prolong recessions.
Here’s the kicker:
The loss of manufacturing jobs due to NAFTA, other free trade agreements, and globalization more broadly has, I believe, helped contribute to the longevity of the economic downturn and threatens larger problems in the future. The promise of NAFTA was cheap products and information-based jobs that were easier on our bodies and allowed us to use our minds. But those jobs have hardly replaced well-paid manufacturing jobs and have left millions of older and poorly educated (disproportionately people of color) Americans behind. We managed to keep the charade of a successful new economy going for awhile, through the housing bubble and personal debt, but both have busted. Now we don’t know how to put people back to work. We have literally dismantled the infrastructure that would allowed us to put people to work in industrial labor. If the information economy doesn’t work and if there is little to no incentive for industries to open factories (or a government that doesn’t make it a priority), what is the long-term employment solution?