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Protectionism did not cause the depression. Indeed, moderate protection is what we need

By Ha-Joon Chang   March 2009

Smoot and Hawley (left) in 1929: don’t blame us, we didn’t cause the depression

Three sacred cows have dominated the market fundamentalist religion of the last 25 years: balanced budgets, private ownership and free trade. Two have recently been sacrificed to reality. Balanced budgets went first, as countries dived into deficit spending without debate to fend off the recession. Belief in private ownership is faltering too, as country after country nationalises its banks.

Faith in free trade, however, is holding out, just about. The major economies are slowly but surely raising protectionist barriers through subsidies and local procurement programmes, yet…

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