U.S. International Trade Policies in a World of Industrial Change

J. David Richardson

NBER Working Paper No. 1228 (Also Reprint No. r0486)
Issued in November 1983
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment, Public Economics, International Finance and Macroeconomics

This paper assesses the place of active trade policy in U.S. industrial change.The growing role of imperfectly competitive multinational corporations provides new arguments for more active U.S. trade policy, as does an increased social consensus that governments should insure what markets do not. Arguments against more active U.S. trade policy stem from its manage ability in a democratic system of checks and balances, from its possible perception as a form of policy aggression, and from the likelihood that there are feasible alternatives to trade policy with smaller implementation costs, administrative costs, incentive costs, and resource-diversion costs. Considered promising among such alternatives are government adjustment programs, foreign-exchange-market intervention, and macroeconomic renovation. Sections 2 and 3 of the paper describe how international economic and policy environments encourage industrial change and pressure U.S. trade policy. Section 4 describes the pros and cons of more active U.S. trade policy where imperfectly competitive industrial structure and missing insurance markets are taken as facts of life. Section 5 assesses alternatives to more active policy, including, in addition to those mentioned above, strict reliance on market forces.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1228

Published: Richardson, J. David. "International Trade Policies in a World of Industrial Change." Industrial Change and Public Policy, pp. 267-312. Kansas City: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 1983.

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