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On Comparative Advantage

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In a comment at this recent Cafe Hayek post [2], my old friend Mark Brady writes:

If free traders are going to win the debate, they have to get to grips with the arguments presented here.

[DBx: more-convenient link here [3]]


When I tried to reply to Mark’s comment, Facebook informed me that my “comment goes against” its “community standards.” Strange. Pasted below, in full and without change, is the comment that I tried to post in response to Mark’s comment:


These ideas peddled by Fletcher have been addressed times too many to count, both by myself and by others. And they are, as you know, old: Haberler complained about them – and about their zombie character – back in 1936. Here are just a few of the more recent responses to Fletcher’s and others’ failure to understand the principle of comparative advantage:

https://cafehayek.com/2020/02/another-letter-to-ian-fletcher.html [4]

http://www.dailyspeculations.com/wordpress/?p=6052 [5]

https://cafehayek.com/2019/11/getting-comparative-advantage-right.html [6]

https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/de_rugy_-_policy_brief_-_new_protectionism_still_protectionism_and_bad_economics_-_v1.pdf [7]

https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/2004/1/cj23n3-6.pdf [8]

https://cafehayek.com/2016/10/41537.html [9]

https://www.aier.org/article/what-is-comparative-advantage/ [10]

https://www.aier.org/article/the-wonderful-surprises-of-comparative-advantage/ [11]


I emphasize that the above is only a partial sampling of the responses, by myself (e.g., also here [12]) and – more importantly, by others (e.g., Krugman [13]) – to claims of the sort made by Fletcher (and by Sherman Xie, by Oren Cass, by Ha-Joon Chang, by Paul Craig Roberts,… this list is distressingly long).