A Brief History of International Trade (and Why It Matters Today)

Douglas A. IrwinTwitter Dartmouth College

June 7, 2021

Episode Highlights

Episode Details

Doug Irwin joins Michael Klein on EconoFact Chats this week to discuss how ideas about free trade have changed over the last 250 years. While most economists today agree that free trade improves productive efficiency and offers consumers better choice, some of the objections to trade expressed by historical figures ranging from Alexander Hamilton to John Maynard Keynes still resonate in contemporary debates.

The author of numerous books, including most recently, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy, Irwin breaks down their arguments while explaining some of the central concepts of international trade relevant to the world economy today.  The conversation explores the relationship between trade and industrialization and the role of technological change in manufacturing employment. 

Also: why pineapples shouldn’t grow in New England, and how international competition in traded goods erases certain jobs domestically while ensuring other industries can flourish.


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