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Daniel Griswold

Daniel Griswold

Articles by Daniel Griswold

Free Trade on Trial

September 16, 2020

This is the second in a series of four articles that will examine the most common arguments against free trade. The first piece in the series focuses on the impact of trade on labor markets. 
Among the criticisms of free trade that we’ll likely hear during the fall campaign is that it threatens our national security—by strengthening our enemies, weakening our industrial base, and potentially leaving us deprived of critical commodities during a time of conflict or war. These arguments are serious, but none of them undermine the argument for a general policy of low to zero tariffs and robust trade with other nations.
President Trump has invoked national security frequently to justify tariffs on steel and aluminum and even potentially on imported automobiles. Political leaders in both parties

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A Timely Defense of Free Trade

September 15, 2020

A new book offers arguments against economic populists of both parties and sets the record straight on trade and globalization. Read more at National Review.

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Free Trade on Trial

September 9, 2020

This is the first in a series of four articles that will examine the most common arguments against free trade.
US trade policy has often been a point of contention in past US election cycles, but it promises to be more prominent than usual as we enter the final campaign stretch from Labor Day to Election Day 2020. At issue is nothing less than America’s postwar commitment to pursuing lower tariffs at home and abroad and deeper economic integration with the rest of the world.
If the past is any guide, the indictment of expanding trade will focus on anxieties about security—job security, national security, public health security in a time of COVID-19, and economic security in the face of “unfair trade.” The sharpest differences on trade this election are not so much between the two major

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Mobility Matters

June 25, 2020

Recently, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Dan Griswold sat down with Ilya Somin to discuss his new book, Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Somin is a professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law. In addition to Free to Move, Somin is the author of several other books, including Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and is a regular contributor to the popular blog, The Volokh Conspiracy. This transcript, as well as the audio of the conversation, has been slightly edited for clarity.  
GRISWOLD: Welcome, everybody. My name is Dan Griswold. I’m a senior research fellow and co-director of the Trade and Immigration Project at the Mercatus Center. I’m here today to talk to Ilya Somin. Ilya is a

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Voting With Our Feet

June 25, 2020

With the coronavirus pandemic shutting borders and the Trump administration tightening the screws on immigration by the week, the new book, Free to Move, by George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin may seem to be poorly timed. But the book’s innovative arguments for federalism, zoning and occupational licensing reform, and openness to immigration are more important and timely than ever. 
Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom is not just another book in favor of more open immigration—as welcome as that would be. What distinguishes this book is its comprehensive argument for enhanced human mobility in all its manifestations. Somin’s thesis is that the freedom of humans to move to a new home—between countries, within jurisdictions of a single federal system, or

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Mainland China About to Snuff out Hong Kong’s Successful System

May 29, 2020

One of humankind’s most dazzling and successful experiments in political economy is coming to an end. For the second half of the 20th century, Hong Kong prospered as an enclave of economic and civil freedom under the benign administration of the United Kingdom, but that freedom may soon expire under the increasingly malign shadow of mainland China.
Spooked by anti-government protests in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities approved a “national security” law this week that would assert the mainland’s direct control over the special administrative region. The new law would allow Beijing to crackdown on demonstrations, criticism of the communist regime, and even the booing of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) national anthem at public events. The authorities have already arrested hundreds of

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Trump Temporary Suspension of Green Cards is Largely Symbolic

April 22, 2020

President Trump’s upcoming executive order to suspend the issuance of any new green cards for the next 60 days is not as drastic as it sounds, but it still takes the United States in exactly the wrong direction as the country begins to emerge from the coronavirus shutdown.
The number of potential immigrants affected by the suspension—which only applies to those seeking legal permanent residency— will be small if the order is limited to the next 60 days. Earlier actions taken by the administration since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged have already reduced immigration flows to a trickle. Those actions include a halt to visa interviews and processing and a suspension of refugee admissions. The number of non-immigrant tourists and business travelers entering the United States has also plunged in

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The Coronavirus Should Not Prompt Us to Rethink Globalization

April 3, 2020

The costly spread of the COVID-19 virus in the United States has prompted calls to rethink globalization. Trade hawks, such as presidential adviser Peter Navarro, contend that the supply-chain disruption caused by the virus is a “wake-up call” that America is too dependent on global suppliers for essential goods. Proposals include “Buy American” orders that would mandate a curb on imports of medicines and medical supplies from foreign suppliers, especially those in China.
The coronavirus challenge may require rethinking certain aspects of America’s economic integration with the world economy, but a mandated rollback of globalization would impose a man-made burden on the US economy by depriving Americans of the critical benefits of global supply chains, lower-cost imports, and foreign-born

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A Progressive Economist Makes the Case for Free Trade and Immigration

February 21, 2020

With her new book, Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital, Reed College economics professor Kimberly Clausing has planted her flag in what has become sparsely inhabited political territory. She’s a progressive who embraces free trade and globalization.
Some on the American left today have made common cause with more Trumpian conservatives, blaming trade, outsourcing, and immigration for the woes of American workers. But not Clausing. While displaying her progressive credentials on other issues, she offers a cogent, accessible, and compelling case for a more open US economy.
Open is really two books under a single cover. One book is a defense of openness as an economic agenda—openness to imports as well as exports, to immigration, and to international

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America’s Economic “Comeback” Owes No Thanks to Trump Trade Policies

February 5, 2020

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Trump touted the strong US economy and low unemployment rate, claiming credit for a “great American comeback” driven in significant part by his trade policies. The president was right about the general health of the US economy, but not about the role of his trade policies.
In his address, the president took credit for replacing what he called the “the disastrous NAFTA trade deal” (the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA) with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is expected to go into effect later in 2020. He also highlighted his tariff war against China, claiming that the resulting “phase one” agreement with China will protect US workers and intellectual property.
The economic impacts of both

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US Treasury’s Currency Report on China is a Case Study in Political Manipulation

January 14, 2020

The US Treasury’s semi-annual report issued this week on the exchange rate policies of China and other major trading partners is an exercise in intellectual gymnastics. The report reiterates that China was indeed a currency manipulator, as Treasury declared in August 2019, but then states it has magically ceased to be one now that the two nations are ready to sign the “Phase One” trade deal this week in Washington.
In fact, under any reasonable reading of US law, China has refrained from manipulating its currency for the past decade or more. The administration’s declaration over the summer was more a negotiating tactic designed to pressure China to sign a trade agreement, and its reversal of that finding in the latest currency report is not based on any real change in evidence.
What this

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Trump’s “Phase 1” Deal with China Promotes US Exports in the Wrong Way

December 17, 2019

A novel feature of the Trump administration’s “Phase 1” trade deal with China announced last Friday is that it would require China to increase its purchase of US goods and services by a total of $200 billion in the next two years. It’s a demand that, even if met, won’t accomplish President Donald Trump’s China-trade goals of promoting US exports and liberalizing the Chinese economy.
According to an accompanying factsheet published by the Office of the US Trade Representative, the agreement “includes commitments from China to import various U.S. goods and services over the next two years in a total amount that exceeds China’s annual level of imports for those goods and services in 2017 by no less than $200 billion.” In other words, China has agreed to purchase at least $200 billion more in

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Trump’s Trade Policy Has Produced Damaging Tariffs but Little Else

December 3, 2019

Americans are about to enter the third full year of President Donald Trump’s aggressive tariff regime, which aims to promote US manufacturing, protect key industries, and prompt other nations to reduce their trade barriers. So, it’s a good time to stop and ask whether tariffs are producing the results desired by the president and other supporters of his trade policies.
It’s an important question for America’s economic future as well as for the president’s reelection chances. But with ongoing trade talks with China and other countries producing little real progress and the recently negotiated US, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA stalled in Congress, the best that can be said for the president’s trade agenda is that it is a work in progress. The more sober reality is that

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Higher Tariffs Benefit Certain CEOs, But Almost Nobody Else

November 8, 2019

A big reason why tariffs are so tempting to politicians is that the costs they impose on the economy are diffused. These costs are spread across millions of households and thousands of businesses, forcing them to pay higher prices for the protected good, while the benefits are concentrated among the small but well-organized sectors that gain from restrictions on foreign competition.
According to a new Mercatus Center study, the chief executive officers of the companies that directly benefit from tariffs imposed by the US government are among the biggest winners from trade restrictions.
In the study, “Executive Incentives, Import Restrictions, and Competition: Empirical Analysis of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders,” Professor Brian Blank at the College of Business at Mississippi

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UK Election Could Open Door for an Ambitious US-UK Trade Agreement

October 31, 2019

The British Parliament voted this week to hold a national election on December 12. If the Conservative Party holds on to its lead in the polls, the results could deliver an early Christmas present for those who support “Brexit” and a potential US-UK trade agreement.
The dominant issue of the election will be whether the UK will finally exit the European Union (EU), as voters narrowly directed in a 2016 referendum, or whether so-called Brexit will be delayed once again or even scuttled altogether. The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that if his Conservative Party wins a majority, he will withdraw the UK from the EU by January 31, 2020—the latest extension date granted by the EU.
If Brexit finally happens, it will open the opportunity for the US and the UK to negotiate a

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US Trade Proves Resilient Despite President Trump’s Escalating Tariff War

October 4, 2019

Americans continue to trade robustly with the rest of the world, according to this morning’s monthly report from the U.S. Commerce Department. The escalating tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have put a big dent in U.S. trade with China, but that has only diverted trade elsewhere, and meanwhile Americans continue to pay a mounting tariff bill to the federal government.
One of the big reality checks for the Trump administration in the report on trade through August is that the US trade deficit is stubbornly resistant to modification by tariffs. When President Trump took office, one of his biggest economic goals was to reduce and eliminate the US trade deficit with the rest of the world, starting with the huge bilateral deficit with China.
The trade report certainly confirms that

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Boris Johnson's Ascent to PM Brings Brexit, US-UK Trade Deal Closer to Reality

July 26, 2019

With his tousled hair, populist flair, and the blessing of the queen, Boris Johnson moved into 10 Downing Street this week as the United Kingdom’s new prime minister. His ascent, besides providing more colorful images for TV, will bring both Brexit and a future US-UK free trade agreement closer to reality.
Johnson has championed Brexit, the UK’s exit from the European Union that was approved narrowly by British voters in a referendum in June 2016. Johnson has committed his government to leave the EU by the October 31 deadline, even if it means “crashing out” without an agreement with the EU on exit terms.
Putting aside the short-term consequences of a hard Brexit, the UK’s exit from the EU’s customs union will free the UK government to sign its own trade agreements with other nations,

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