The Economist magazine held an online debate and poll on this topic: Do multinational corporations have a duty to maintain a strong presence in their home countries?
Harry Moser, Reshoring Initiative, was invited to write in support of that proposition.
Jagdish Bhagwati, Professor of Economics and Law, Columbia University, was invited to write in opposition to the proposition.
The moderator from The Economist, Tamzin Booth, was very surprised at the resulting 54-46 win.
This has been a closely fought debate, and for most of the time it looked as if Jagdish Bhagwati would prevail, with voting in his favour at around 54%. He robustly defended globalisation as practised by multinational corporations, and conclusively answered each point made by his opponent, Harry Moser of the Reshoring Initiative. Nonetheless, in the end the voting suddenly swung narrowly in Mr Moser’s favour. This is a surprising result, given that a large slice of Economist readers can be assumed to be strong believers in the benefits of a global economy, and the idea that companies owe a duty to somewhere called “home” counters that.An odd comment, because the issue wasn’t whether there were benefit of a global economy. Ms. Booth exhibits sloppy thinking because those who think multinationals have some duty to the home countries are not stating that there should be no global trade or operations.
She also then tries to explain the results away, blaming “angst”.
But Mr Moser’s side prevailed in the end. This doubtless reflects not only his arguments in favour of reshoring to America but a broad angst about the country’s economic future.Contrary to Ms. Booth’s assertion, the Bhagwati gang is the side which is emotionally involved with their version of duty-less global utopianism, regardless of the facts.