Thursday, March 19, 2009

Optimism against Protectionism?

Or at least not downright pessimism - from Daniel Ikenson at the Cato Institute who thinks there's too much hysteria over trade :

The fact of the matter is that there isn’t any discernible trend toward protectionism in the United States or in the world right now. World leaders issue warnings about the consequences of protectionism, but there are not trends. There are incidences, but no trends. The ballyhooed World Bank paper cites 78 trade measures “proposed and/or implemented,” 66 of which involved trade restrictions, 47 of which eventually took effect. The long footnote associated with the presentation of these numbers (footnote 1) includes the following sentence: “It is important to note that it is difficult to distinguish the trade policy measures that are taken in response to the current crisis from measures that might have been taken anyway.”
Color me cautiously optimistic, but I do think we'll see retrenchment of protectionism - but I would agree that we probably won't see another Smoot Hawley Act (Economist). Given however the disastrous effects of Smoot Hawley, I also don't think concern - especially given some of the other er, remarkable "solutions" that governments have come up with for this crisis - can be classified as hysteria or that we shouldn't be especially guarded against it.

No comments: