"We Won't Stop Making Our Citizens Poorer Until You Stop Making Your Citizens Poorer!"

by Don Boudreaux on November 9, 2007

in Trade

I sent this letter yesterday to the Washington Times:

To the Editor:

Alluding,
as you correctly report, "to the possibility of economic retaliation by
European states stung by the falling dollar," French president Nicolas
Sarkozy yesterday warned of "economic war" ("China signals dollar
swap
," November 8).

Higher tariffs are indeed hateful and
harmful.  But do keep in mind an important difference between the more-familiar shoot’-em-up wars and "economic wars": in "economic wars," each
belligerent government aims its weapons only at its own citizens,
demanding that they avoid taking advantage of good economic deals
offered by foreigners.  Put differently, in "economic wars," when the
government of A attacks citizens of A, the government of B "retaliates"
by attacking citizens of B.  Then to further punish B, the government
of A increases the scale of its attack on citizens of A.  And so it
perversely goes.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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