Magazine September 12, 2016, Issue

Four Myths about Trade

True free trade is still optimal, but its advocates are stuck in the 20th century

The content and tenor of debate in this presidential-election season has Washington’s pro-trade establishment in a panic, wondering what has happened to the previous consensus about the merits of global economic integration. Yet rather than question their long-held assumptions, establishmentarians have concluded that the problem must be with the American people and the political demagogues leading them astray. The less charitable among them dismiss opponents as “less educated” isolationists, nationalists, or ethnocentrists. The more charitable assume that if trade supporters would just slow down and enunciate clearly — Trade is good! — then maybe the unwashed would get the message.


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