Hillary Clinton did an interview with the FT on trade and economic issues. I'll probably come back to this later, but one thing she said jumped out at me and I wanted to mention it here:
And I agree with Paul Samuelson, the very famous economist, who has recently spoken and written about how comparative advantage as it is classically understood may not be descriptive of the 21st century economy in which we find ourselves.
Did Samuelson really say something along those lines? I'm curious if anyone knows what exactly she was referring to it. I did a quick web search and did not see anything.
ADDED: There seems to be a good deal of discussion of this point. An FT editorial says:
Mr Samuelson did not even say what Mrs Clinton thinks he said. In the article she apparently has in mind, and in subsequent remarks, the great man did attack the pieties of the pro-trade lobby, pointing out that not everybody gains and that even nations as a whole can lose from free trade under certain restrictive circumstances.
Though this point was delightedly greeted by the political and pundit classes as a shattering new discovery, in fact Mr Samuelson was restating a decades-old understanding. What Mr Samuelson said was true not just of the 21st century, but also of the 20th – and it is just as irrelevant to the intelligent formulation of trade policy today as it was after 1950, when the liberal trading order was built. If Mr Samuelson, who has never (so far as we know) recommended protectionism, is not scandalised to be quoted in support of a “time-out” on Doha, he should be.
In response, Dani Rodrik says:
And this whole thing about what Paul Samuelson said and meant and whose position it provides support for is such a red-herring. Hillary should not have brought up Samuelson, but I wish her critics would stick to the issues instead of chiding her for using his name in support.
In addition, Clive Crook says:
I wonder what Samuelson makes of being cited as an intellectual authority for Democratic Party disenchantment with liberal trade. It is one thing to say that it's all very complicated, and that economists should guard against simplistic accounts of the trade issue. It is quite another if, while pondering the complexities, the US turns its back on the liberal trading order. That too would be, as it were, a simplistic outcome--and an extraordinarily damaging one for the US and (more especially) for the developing countries.
This confirms my initial impression that Samuelson didn't say what she implied. It's interesting that even Rodrik, who agrees with her broader point, says "Hillary should not have brought up Samuelson."
More later on her suggestion of a "time out" and whether this should be considered "protectionist."