Friday, January 4, 2008

Back from the Holiday Break

I hope everyone that had a holiday break enjoyed it. For those of you who had to work, I hope it wasn't inordinately stressful.

While I was out of the office, I did a bit of reading. One of the books I read was The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism by Russell Roberts who blogs at Café Hayek. The book is short, less than 150 pages. It tells a story of how economist David Ricardo (of comparative advantage fame)is given a task to convince a 1960s American TV manufacturer why he should not endorse a political candidate who will push for total trade isolation. The manufacturer has already received some protection for his firm in the form of an import quota, and has been asked to make a speech at the national convention supporting the candidate.

The weakest point of the book is the "all or nothing" approach that is adopted. However, Roberts uses it as the most efficient vehicle for Ricardo to discuss all the ins and outs of trade and trade barriers.

The story's main characters do an excellent job of offering up all the arguments for trade protection: infant industry, strategic industry, fair trade, jobs, etc. And they do as thorough a job of explaining the economics of trade as a counter to every issue.

For teachers who are looking for a different yet amusing way to approach those last couple of chapters each semester, this might be the ticket.

I hope others of you have read or used the book. I'd be interested in your comments.

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