Contrary To Nationalist Myths, Protectionism Has Been an Economic Disaster: New at Reason

A new Cato analysis tracks the failure of economic protectionism through American trade policy history.

Scott Lincicome writes:

American economic nationalism has risen in recent years, both fueling and fueled by President Donald Trump's election.

With it has risen the view, perpetuated by Trump and many others, that protectionism has been an effective policy throughout the nation's history—that past U.S. government restrictions on foreign competition were manifestly successful in achieving their stated policy objectives: decreased imports, increased jobs, industrial revival, opened foreign markets, and, more broadly, American economic prosperity. These purported historical "successes" have been used to justify a new round of nationalist economic proposals.

This revisionist history ignores a vast repository of academic analyses of and contemporaneous reporting on the periods and policies in question, showing the many failures of American trade protectionism. It relies on well-worn protectionist myths and the mere correlation of economic improvement with protectionist experimentation.

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