Monday, March 09, 2009

Trade wars: are they here?

The World Bank announced that global trade levels are likely to decline this year for the first year in almost forever. The recession is really shaping up as a serious global problem. In that light, this piece for the Register's Sunday Commentary section discussing the possibility of emerging protectionism that could develop into trade wars, seems rather timely. The bottom line is that I don't expect protectionist overkill on the order of what followed the Smoot-Hawley tariffs of 1930 and most certainly contributed to deepening and prolonging the Great Depression. But there are opportunities for plenty of protectionist beggar-thy-neighbor (and thyself) mischief. Even within the confines of the WTO, which I regard as managed trade with a bias toward free trade rather than really free trade, opportunities for essentially protectionist activities.

I have mentioned previously how much I enjoyed talking with Jagdish Bhagwati and how much I got out of his great wisdom and knowledge regarding these issues. I hope you'll agree that I used the information he gave me fairly deftly. Tell me if I'm wrong.

No comments: