Monday, February 4, 2008

Here's a short and witty article on U.S. currency (pdf), written by Ha-Joon Chang, from the most recent issue of the New School Economics Review. It discusses how, despite current U.S. free-trade bolstering, every single president portrayed on our currency was an avid protectionist. The argument of this incredibly short piece, slightly veiled by its clever usage of images on currency to point it out, is that upcoming industrialist states tend to be rigidly protectionist, but once they arrive at full industrialization, they turn to free trade in order to benefit from the exploitation of other countries. Britain, Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands have all followed this pattern. This quote from general-turned-president Ulysses S. Grant (whose burly, bearded face beams from the fifty-dollar bill), in response to British pressure for the U.S. to adopt free trade, says it all:

Within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.

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