In this campaign season of populist anger and demagoguery, bad ideas are bubbling to the surface like marsh gas. Among the worst is protectionism, which would wreak havoc on a U.S. economy that’s finally picking up steam.
Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have seized on trade as a convenient scapegoat for the nation’s economic woes. There’s deep irony here. The popular frustrations on which they feed stem mainly from the productivity and wage slump America has experienced since 2000. Yet their proposed fix—shredding international treaties and walling off the U.S. economy—is a textbook formula for economic stagnation.
It’s a perfect negative feedback loop. And it won’t be the “one percent” who suffer if the populists get their way; it will be U.S. companies with global supply chains and millions of middle-class American workers and consumers.
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