The Cyberflâneur #25: Dani Rodrik

Dani Rodrik is Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard and the author of many influential papers, op-eds and books, including most recently: Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017). In it he presciently lays out why “our elites’ and technocrats’ obsession with hyper-globalization [has] made it more difficult for nations to achieve legitimate economic and social objectives at home.”

Dani’s longstanding and highly thoughtful critique of globalisation stands especially tall in the current moment. His choices from our stacks are as excellent as they are timely: you’ll find pieces on tech and the “collaborative state”, AI and the future of labour demand, “the global financial resource curse”, and even a well-argued case for industrial policy from a surprising source.

For Dani’s Twitter and bio. A recent talk by Dani below and more of his wide-ranging work towards the end.

~ Evgeny Morozov

A lecture by Dani on the future of globalisation after Covid-19

Dani’s Selections


Who’s Driving Innovation?: New Technologies and the Collaborative State

A short but instructive book on how new technologies are driven by social and political forces that need to be harnessed if technology is going to serve society rather than vice versa.


Are Your Labor Shares Set in Beijing? The View Through the Lens of Global Value Chains

Global value chains and international outsourcing have played a role in reducing labor shares of output in advanced economies. Labor in countries with greater inflows of foreign direct investment has been particularly disadvantaged.


The Spatial Mismatch between Innovation and Joblessness

What can policy makers do if there remain a lot of people in places where little innovation takes place, and hence good jobs are scarce? This article offers a reasonable range of options and presents a starting point to thinking about industrial and innovation policies that specifically focus on good jobs.


Prudential Regulation and Capital Controls

Every economist and policy maker recognizes that financial markets need prudential regulation to prevent financial intermediaries from taking excessive risks. Capital controls — on cross-border flows — are more controversial. This piece by a distinguished economist argues, correctly, that capital controls should in fact be part of prudential regulation.


Principles of True Industrial Policy

Would you expect strong support for industrial policy to come out of the International Monetary Fund? These days, anything is possible. These two IMF economists develop some useful principles for the practice of successful industrial policy in developing economies.


Insiders under Pressure: Flexible Employment and Wage Inequality

We know that “flexibilization” of employment contracts have exacerbated wage inequality between “insiders” (those with secure contracts and high wages) and “outsiders”. This paper demonstrates that wages of some of the insiders — those at the low end of the wage distribution — are adversely affected as well. So insiders are not all protected equally.


Place-Based Policies, State-Led Industrialisation, and Regional Development: Evidence From China’s Great Western Development Programme

Chinese economic policies can rarely be copied successfully in other settings, but they instruct us about the range of possibilities in economic development. This study shows that an ambitious industrial policy to increase investment in the more backward Western regions of the country after 2000 had a substantial impact on the growth rate of those regions — but was less successful in increasing employment.


The Global Financial Resource Curse

Access to financial capital flows from abroad is a good thing, right? Actually no. As this study argues, capital inflows from the rest of the world into the US economy may be one reason why manufacturing lagged in the U.S. and low-productivity services expanded.


Superstar Cities and Left-Behind Places: Disruptive Innovation, Labor Demand, and Interregional Inequality

Regional inequality increased in the U.S. until the Second World War, and then began to come down — a process that ended around 1980, Since the, income inequality across space has increased yet again, with the rise of super-cities that attract talent and the most productive firms, and pay high wages. This important study provides a general theory of these swings, focusing on the rise of new technologies and how they become easier to diffuse across space over time.


The Wrong Kind of AI? Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Labour Demand

Innovation is necessary to enhance our lives and human productivity. We have much more control over its direction — whether new technologies serve humanity or vice versa –than we often realize. This important article outlines some of the ways in which we can redirect innovation to benefit workers.

More by Dani Rodrik – from our Stacks

Our archive of high-quality content across text, video and audio – our “Living Syllabus” as we call it – has already reached over 20,000 items and grows larger every week.

Here are some recent pieces by or featuring Dani from those archives:

Other Cyberflâneurs

We’ve featured many fantastic individuals in this series: artists, musicians, academics, writers, journalists, politicians, and more. To see the full list and browse their selections, head over here.

A handful of our contributors so far:


  • Kaiser Kuo – Writer, Musician, Podcaster
  • Li Andersson – Finland’s Minister of Education and the Chairperson of the Left Alliance party
  • Ivan Krastev – Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna
  • Fabrizio Barca – Italian Politician, founder of Forum on Inequality and Diversity

More About our Cyberflâneur Series

To learn more about how this particularly eclectic edition of our syllabi works, head over here. Note that if you subscribe to any of our weekly syllabi, we’ll keep you posted on our latest Cyberflâneurs too. Our subscribers also get a monthly Highlights From the Cyberflâneur edition.

If you’d like to propose a candidate for this series, please use this simple form.

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