The Public Interest

Protectionism: A Guide for the Perplexed

Herbert Stein

Winter 1989

IN THIS GEM of a book Jagdish Bhagwati goes far beyond the econ- omists’ paternoster about the virtues of free trade and their clucking about the sins and errors of practical men who disregard the advice of economists. He examines the exceptions that economists, going back to Adam Smith, have found, or claim to have found, to the general prescription for free trade. He explains the divergence between practice and economists’ prescriptions. He describes the sources of the move toward liberalization after World War II and the move back in more recent years, and he predicts future trends. Finally, he offers suggestions for changes in institutions and procedures that would contribute to better decision-making about trade policy.

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