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The Temptation for Protectionism and American Trade Policy

By Robert Carbaugh and Tyler Prante

Abstract

The Great Recession of 2007–2009 originated in the United States and quickly spread throughout the economies of Canada and Europe. Soon these countries imported fewer goods produced by emerging countries and the crisis became global. International trade collapsed at a pace unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As trade declined, countries increasingly faced the temptation to impose restrictions on imports so as to protect sales and jobs of domestic firms and workers. This paper examines the pressures for protectionism that have occurred during the Great Recession and its aftermath. It also examines the lessons from the escalation of protectionism during the 1930s and applies these to the current situation. Several cases of recent protectionist policies are examined to illustrate these points.

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