Regarding my PBS broadcast a few days ago, a friend writes: "I like most your suggestions for new financial rules, as opposed to state interference (overt nationalisations). Have you parallel bullet points on global trade? As facing down speculation surely also requires looking at how asset classes held by the global south should not be ripped off in the future by the developed north."

My answer: Trade is always a good thing, but has been distorted by subsidies as well as by differences in regulations across the globe in relation to the environment and social justice.

So my three bullet points on trade are:
1. abolish all direct and indirect subsidies for any product or service if that is to be traded across borders (difficult to establish not only in practice but even in principle, given the complete change in the mentality of government interference which is endemic - regarding research, for example)
2. ban countries who want to be part of the WTO from currency manipulation (and that can only happen if there are clear global rules regarding how much money can be printed by governments)
3. put in place a global regime for environmental standards, heath and safety, pensions and work conditions.

At present, trade takes place primarily as a result of the improper benefits obtained by certain countries from human exploitation, environmental degradation and currency manipulation.

What we need to do is to ban human exploitation, environmental degradation and currency manipulation.

Only then will we have trade based on genuine specialisation based on human talent and resource availability - of the sort that Adam Smith theorised about.

Over the last 30 years, ideologues to the right ("market fundamentalists") have used Adam Smith either to justify human exploitation, environmental degradation and currency manipulation - or to ignore such matters.

Professor Prabhu Guptara