I Publicly Challenge Peter Morici to a Debate

by Don Boudreaux on August 20, 2018

in Myths and Fallacies, Trade

Here’s a letter to Peter Morici:

Prof. Peter Morici

Prof. Morici:

You repeatedly write – as you did yet again today at MarketWatch (“When economists become demagogues”) – that the principle of “[c]omparative advantage assumes balanced trade and full employment … [and that] all countries and businesses are equally endowed with access to technology.”

Yet these claims of yours are not only false; they’re absurd. If you actually understood the principle of comparative advantage, you’d understand that mutually beneficial trade arises under it even when trade between countries is “unbalanced” and when one or the other (or each) country has unemployed resources. And you’d further understand that the operation of comparative advantage would diminish – rather than, as you believe, arise or intensify – if “all countries and businesses are equally endowed with access to technology.”

And so I conclude that you in fact don’t understand the principle of comparative advantage. And you, of course, will protest my conclusion.

So I challenge you to a public debate on the principle of comparative advantage. I will be happy to debate you wherever you wish in the continental United States and on any mutually convenient date. And I suggest, although I do not demand, that the debate be live-streamed and recorded. The winner of the debate will have the satisfaction of exposing the loser as being an economist with such an embarrassingly poor grasp of a foundational principle of economics that he, the loser of the debate, should from there on in cease and desist from making public pronouncements about trade and trade policy.

Do you accept my challenge?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

P.S. Roger Ream, president of The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), just informed me that TFAS would be happy to sponsor this debate.


I thank Caroline Baum for alerting me to Peter Morici’s latest example of economic misunderstanding.


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