Why Tariffs Are Silly, and How Economists Think About the World

From Tim Harford's book The Undercover Economist, which took me about a day to read: "There are two ways for the United States to produce automobiles: they can build them in Detroit, or grow them in Iowa. Growing them in Iowa makes use of a special technology that turns wheat into Toyotas: simply put the wheat on ships and send them out into the Pacific ocean. The ships come back a short while later with Toyotas on them. The technology used to turn wheat into Toyotas out in the Pacific is called "Japan," but it could just as easily be a futuristic biofactory floating off the coast in Hawaii. Either way, auto workers in Detroit are in direct competition with farmers in Iowa. Import restrictions on Japanese cars will help the auto workers and hurt the farmers: they are the modern-day equivalent of "frame breaking."

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