The very fact, however, that a country’s comparative advantages are constantly changing is, if anything, yet another reason to be wary about experts who think they can second-guess the workings of markets via some combination of industrial policy and tariffs. Such reservations are neither an instance of “market fundamentalism” nor a reflection of excessive abstraction. Rather they flow from the deep realism about the human condition that is central to critiques of economic nationalism. For one thing, it is simply beyond the ability of any one ostensibly apolitical technocrat, team of experts, or government department to absorb all the information that they would need to design the optimal industrial policy for a sector of the economy—let alone an entire national economy such as Japan attempted between 1949 and 2001.
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