It is refreshing to read two books on free trade and protectionism this week, although this topic has been extensively covered in the media. Russell Roberts’ book of “The Choice – A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism”  strongly argues that economy will benefit from free trade, whether for a developed nation or for a developing nation, in the light of David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage. Roberts illustrated how the free trade helps United States become the wealthiest nation in the world and China quadrupled its standard of living between 1980 and 2000 with an imaginative dialog of David Ricardo and Ed Johnson. The title of almost every chapter started with a very touching question. For examples,
Is Trade good for America?
Are Manufacturing Jobs Better Than Service Jobs?
Is Outsourcing a Threat to American Prosperity?
Do Tariffs protect American jobs?
Do Trade deficits hurt America?
Is Globalization Good for the Poor?
To answer a list of these challenging questions for deeply concerned American people, he clearly explained these issues from an economist’s point of view and convinced the readers that globalization will bring more choices and better opportunities to American people. Even though some certain old industries and their employees will suffer temporarily because of foreign competitions, the whole nation and our next generation will be better off by concentrating our resource and talents on the new industries.
Pietra Rivoli’s book of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy”  examines the impact of market force and politics on world trade with some interesting stories about a T-shirt. T-shirts are made in China with the cotton grown in Texas and are imported back to US market. Used T-shirts are donated to Salvation Army and resold to Africa to clothe people in the poorest continent. The story of a T-shirt, one of the simplest products, however, illuminated a number of ongoing debates such as globalization, labor...