Defending free trade from politicians who “pander to Americans’ suspicion of foreigners,” George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen writes in the New York Times:

The last 20 years have brought the world more trade, more globalization and more economic growth than in any previous such period in history. Few commentators had believed that such a rise in trade and living standards was possible so quickly.

More than 400 million Chinese climbed out of poverty between 1990 and 2004, according to the World Bank. India has become a rapidly growing economy, the middle class in Brazil and Mexico is flourishing, and recent successes of Ghana and Tanzania show that parts of Africa may be turning the corner as well.

A new research paper by Christian Broda and John Romalis, both professors at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago, has shown that cheap imports from China have benefited the American poor disproportionately. In fact, for the poor, discounting in stores such as Wal-Mart has offset much of the rise in measured income inequality from 1994 to 2005.