Fred P. Hochberg on “The Politics of Globalization: How Trade Became a Four-Letter Word”

Fred P. Hochberg's seminars will be held on Tuesdays at 3:30pm.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


We have a global economy that is more interconnected and ruthlessly competitive than ever before, with governments around the world focused on creating jobs for their rapidly urbanizing populations. These factors, which were accelerated by the Great Recession, have engendered a disruptive rise in nationalism and a desire for retrenchment across the United States. Trade has become a four-letter word. 

The unprecedented five-month closure of the Export-Import Bank of the United States in 2015, taken together with the fight over TPP and the role trade played in the 2016 election and the first nine months of the Trump administration, gives us an indication of what lies ahead. Candidates Trump and Sanders aligned on trade; moderate Republicans joined with liberal Democrats to save the EXIM Bank; and President Obama battled his own party on TPP. The political consensus on trade has been obliterated, with nationalism facing off with globalism, and different views on the role of government cutting across both strains. 

This seminar will examine the recent history of our trade politics; discuss the roles that business, labor, the political parties, executive branch agencies, and global institutions play in influencing the debate; and dissect the real-world debates mentioned above. We’ll then apply those lessons to what lies ahead: NAFTA renegotiation, a UK-US trade agreement, a trade war with China, the 2020 election, and more. Where will this new left-right anti-trade coalition take us? Can we forge policies that are both pro-worker and pro-trade? And is there a way to reframe the rhetoric so that a new message and a new politics could take hold? 

Session 1 (October 3): Globalism v. Nationalism | RSVP

Culturally and economically, there is a deepening divide among those who want to see America as an active, trading and internationally engaged country, and those that think we should focus on American businesses and workers, as well as tighter borders. How is that realigning our politics? How did we get here? What does each side get right, and each side get wrong? Globalism is on its heels, how does it come back? Both in the United States and in Europe?

Special Guest: Doug Holtz-Eakin, Founder, American Action Forum and Former Director, Congressional Budget Office

Session 2 (October 10): Recent History of Trade Politics and the Changing Global Economy | RSVP

When NAFTA was signed, there were 12 free trade agreements around the world—today there are over 600. We’ll look at the politics of trade in the Clinton, Bush and Obama eras, and examine the trendlines and big events. Did we miss any mile markers along the way? What happened in 2015 and 2016 to make trade such a front-burner issue? What are the different blocks within Congress and the electorate on trade issues? How do America’s trade politics differ from the rest of the world? What does America still make? What is the composition of our exports? 

Special Guest: William Daley

Session 3 (October 17): The Role of Business in the Trade Debate | RSVP

If global businesses are the biggest beneficiaries of trade, what is their responsibility to advocate for it? Why have the traditional ways of influencing the political process failed—and how can business leaders take back the debate? It’s not all messaging, though. Should businesses embrace new policies and practices? Are businesses getting what they want out of NAFTA renegotiation? Is it even a priority? Is automation making this a moot issue for business?

Special Guest: Doug Oberhelman, Former CEO of Caterpillar and Representative Gwen Moore

Session 4* (October 25): The Role of Labor and Progressives in the Trade Debate | RSVP

*Please note, this seminar will take place on Wednesday, October 25

Labor and progressives have successfully pushed the Democratic party away from the free trade agenda of Clinton, and Obama. How do progressives see this moment in political history, with respect to trade? What should the Democrats’ trade platform look like? Where can labor and business come together on trade? What is needed to address the other, larger threat to workers in America: automation? With the manufacturing sectors’ increasing reliance on overseas customers, how do we get trade right, without turning our backs on job-sustaining growth? How are progressives and labor approaching a Trump administration-led renegotiation of NAFTA?  

Special Guest: Edward Luce, Washington Columnist and Commentator, Financial Times; author of "The Retreat of Western Liberalism" 

Session 5 (October 31):  The Role of Government and Think Tanks in Trade Debate | RSVP

What does America’s new Administration and new position on trade mean for its engagement with the world? How much of our diplomacy is economic and what does that mean for the current debate on trade? Economists understand the academic value of trade, and policymakers embraced the textbook view that it benefits the overall economy. But the failure to properly account for the losers of trade is what has gotten us to this point. What is the latest academic work on this phenomenon and what can policymakers do with new research? How are new policy ideas and think tanks affecting NAFTA renegotiations…or not?  

Special Guest: Barry Jackson, Managing Director of the Lindsey Group, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush & former Chief of Staff to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner 

Session 6* (November 8): EXIM and TPP | RSVP
*Please note, this seminar will take place on Wednesday, November 8

In 2015 and 2016, two trade-related battles were waged between Congress and the administration simultaneously—and with dramatically different coalitions on each side of the Obama Administration. What does the EXIM battle tell us about the Republican split on trade? Where were the political fault lines? What does the EXIM battle tell us about how to frame the broader trade debate going forward? Likewise, what did TPP reveal about the Democratic split on trade? How did the differences form? And what does TPP teach us about the politics of trade going forward—will there ever be another free trade agreement approved by Congress? 

Special Guest (via Skype): Eric Cantor, Vice President & Managing Director of Moelis & Company and former House Majority Leader

Session 7* (November 15):  Future Flashpoints: China, Trump Budgets, Brexit and the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Elections | RSVP
*Please note, this seminar will take place on Wednesday, November 15 from 4-5pm. This seminar will be held at City Hall, 121 N. Lasalle Drive 

Beyond NAFTA renegotiation, which the seminar will track in multiple sessions, trade issues will be at the heart of our relationships with China, Mexico, a Brexit-ing UK and other countries. How will that change the global framework on trade? How will America’s global cities and trade-dependent states chart their own course? How will trade factor into the 2018 midterm elections? What can we predict about trade’s role in the 2020 presidential election? What will happen if Trump fails to “make America great again” and bring back jobs? Can Democrats win back the white working class through an anti-trade platform? 

Special Guest: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Session 8 (November 21): Implications for the Next Generation of Public Servants | RSVP

What industries, institutions and roles exist for public servants interested in trade? How does the shifting trade landscape affect career opportunities across the government? Or the private sector? What areas of opportunity are opening up due to the change we’re living through? 

Special Guest (via Skype): Gillian Tett, author and journalist, U.S. Managing Editor of Financial Times