Although Adam Smith lived in the 18th century, the father of modern economics still has much to teach the world today. Smith's world famous book Wealth of Nations is arguably the most important piece on economics in history. It greatly influenced other scholars, thinkers, and eventually policymakers away from the then-dominant global policy of mercantilism toward freer trade.
Tariffs and Candlestick Makers
The fight between those who prefer free markets and those who prefer protectionism and domestic production is a war that has been waged since the time of mercantilism in the 1600's. Adam Smith, Frédéric Bastiat, and many other classical economists of their time fought hard against the idea that markets needed to be controlled extensively by government regulations. They, along with many others, believed that government intervention in the economy produced inefficiency and dead-weight loss.
Trade Liberalization vs. Protectionism: Pros & Cons
Globalization has always instigated debate and disagreement. It’s blamed for the decay of state sovereignty, the rise of transnational organized crime and economic degradation. It’s constantly used as a scapegoat by politicians and world leaders who want to justify cases of economic and social race to the bottom phenomena in their respective nations, and it’s generally used as an easy excuse to defend failures and downsides. Regardless of these accusations, however, it’s important to note that the benefits of globalization and liberalization vastly overshadow their discontents, especially in the context of trade and economic growth.
How Useful Are Tariffs?
In an increasingly globalized market, some governments are becoming much more concerned with three of the main consequences of expanding international trade. The first is that domestic companies are forced to grapple with not only domestic competitors, but also foreign competitors. Second is the growing dependence on foreign firms for important goods. Finally, the existence of trade deficits (higher imports than exports) which are often seen as “unfair”. In order to address these concerns, a growing number of countries are implementing tariffs on their imports, taxing certain classes of goods originating from specified countries.