Anyone who has spoken with me at length on the subject knows that I am highly skeptical of unfettered free trade. There is no question that if you take the world as one economy, free trade increases productivity, creates jobs and new wealth.
But for all the talk of the world economy, it does not exist in the manner many academic economists believe it does. Nations have competing interests and sometimes the growth of one nation comes at the expense of another. In a manner of speaking I am a cautious economic nationalist, as I am for
President Obama’s latest imposition of tariffs on Chinese tires worries me greatly, however. I believe that a proper tariff regime can only be imposed on world trade during times of economic growth. Smoot Hawley has taught us that to protect industries during recession is disastrous, but history has also taught us that some of
That being said, tariffs and national banks (another Hamiltonian policy) were not enshrined in the Constitution and therefore are guidelines for the future, not unbreakable law.
In my own observations I have come to conclude that free trade with nations that do not have labor or environmental standards is folly (though I would make some exceptions), but that free trade with some nations would be mutually beneficial and create unprecedented wealth and opportunity. For example, if the
However, the trading regime with
After such time,
A tougher line must be towed but when the timing is right.