Major Free-Trade Economist Says China Tire Tariffs “Part Of The Rules”

Dave Johnson

The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog wrote this yesterday:

Princeton University economist, author and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in economics last year for his work on international trade — so the guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this subject.

[. . .] Krugman downplayed concerns about protectionism.

The Obama administration’s move last month to impose tariffs on certain imports of Chinese tires raised much concern that nations are leaning towards protectionism — a move some economists say worsened and prolonged the Great Depression.

But Krugman isn’t convinced. First, he said, protectionism was an effect –– not a cause — of the Great Depression — a frequent misconception among economists, he said. And despite “incidents” it hasn’t really been a factor in the current downturn.

He added that as for the tire tariffs, they “aren’t really a big deal,” because they are “part of the rules” under world trade agreements and are temporary — rather than permanent — in nature. [emphasis added]

As I have been saying all along, this tariff was just enforcing the rules. Trade can’t work, even “free” trade, without rules that are enforced.

And stop calling everything that might help American manufacturers “protectionism.” Watching out for one’s own interests in not a bad thing. Watching out for your country’s workers and manufacturers isn’t a bad thing either.

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