Monday, September 14, 2009

President Obama may have just started a trade war

Well, good news everyone, President Obama may have started a trade war with China late on Friday afternoon. For some reason, his administration chose the end of a week when most newscasts were focused on remembering 9/11 to announce that they were placing a 35% tariff on Chinese tire imports. Thankfully, the Chinese were cool with this. Just kidding, they're actually a little pissed about this development.

According to Bloomberg, the Chinese responded by announcing their own investigation into "unfair subsidies" and dumping of U.S. poultry and automobiles in China. Hopefully, this trade dispute will remain limited in nature because, as the Bloomberg article notes, "[r]ising protectionism may hamper world trade and undermine the global economy’s recovery from recession."

Perhaps this would be a good time for President Obama to have a lesson or two in economics. To that end, I offer the economist and sometime actor Ben Stein, who explained in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, that the Great Depression did not really become "Great" until Congress passed the protectionist Hawley-Smoot (or Smoot-Hawley) Tariff Act, which increased tariffs on imports to the United States and led to a significant trade war in the late 1920s and early 30s:

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