Why “Trade Deals” Are Even Worse Than Tariffs

Conventional wisdom holds that treaties represent countries getting together peacefully to advance humanity’s goals, while tariffs represent dog-eats-dog negative-sum competition that can provoke wars. Yet treaties, being complex and negotiated in secret, are mostly the work of rent-seeking bureaucrats, whereas the competition of tariffs provides international relations with valuable grit, preventing countries from conspiring together against ordinary people. As new treaties get sillier, it becomes clearer: they do far more damage, economic and to liberty, than do tariffs.