How much did tariffs drive 19th century U.S. economic growth?

Not so much:

The role of high tariffs in the emergence of the U.S. as a leading industrial nation in the late 19th century is still hotly debated. Despite its symbolic signifi- cance in the arguments of Free Trade, the quantitative implications of the tariffs on key features of the development are still unknown. In this paper I ask: Could the U.S. have grown as it did without the high tariffs imposed on its manufacturing imports in the late 19th century? To see this clearly, my analysis is quantitative and counterfactual in nature, effectively isolating the effects of the tariffs from other important forces. To do this, I construct a three-region general equilibrium model. The model is calibrated to match the key data during this period. Then, I disentangle the effects of the tariffs under two different assumptions. First, I assume that manufacturing productivity is exogenous to the tariffs. Then I assume that there exists learning-by-doing in U.S. manufacturing so that the tariffs positively affect productivity. Contrary to popular beliefs, I find that the effects of high manufacturing tariffs are quantitatively small. Even with learning-by-doing, tariffs only contributes about 4 percent to the growth of the manufacturing output, and a little more than 1 percentage point to its share in world manufacturing from 1870 to 1913. I then ask what the key driving forces for development are. I find that the large increase in labour force is the single most important factor behind the development of the U.S. economy.

That is from a 2013 job market paper by Yeo Jooon Yoon (pdf), emphasis added by me.  See also this earlier Doug Irwin paper, all hat tips go to PseudoErasmus.


Oh boy here comes the sound of the thundering hooves of the nationalists to ride in and declare this study typical left wing poppycock. Increase in the labor force (immigration) good, anti-trade tariffs bad? What rot! And then something something Pol Pot Chomsky something something rathskellar.

If Rommey or Rubio was the Republican nominee and the President elect, we'd have the usual leftist suspects coming here to berate free trade, free markets, globalization too. It's a testament to the Trump coalition that the usual roles have been reversed.

Probably so. Just like how if Clinton had one the usual rightists would be here berating deficits. Plenty of hypocrisy to go around.


It's pretty funny to see Yellen denouncing deficits now. As long as she thought Clinton was going to win, larger deficits were not merely OK, but actually mandatory.

Yep. And it's equally funny seeing the other side stop complaining about deficits. As I just said, plenty of hypocrites on BOTH SIDES. It's all a tribal game.

Might have something to do with the Trump deficits being five times as much as Clinton's.

it is crap. Or are you one of those "supply and demand don't apply to labor" people? Sure, an increase in the labor force "grew the economy"(any increase in population will do that) but at the cost of reducing wages for the natives. It should also be noted that immigration wasn't the only way the labor force grew, back then, White people actually knew how to have more than 2.1 children, something people like you have assured me is impossible today. All the guy did was create some model. Think critically, tariffs for virtually all industrial products were in the range of >40%. In that environment, shouldn't manufacturing output go up by a lot more than 4 percent?

Immigration increases both the supply and the demand for labor, with ambiguous impacts on wages.

People who cannot go through formal channels are not usually highly educated.

While your statement is theoretically true, the immigration issues most commonly discussed in the USA and the impacts on wages in the lower end of the wage spectrum are not exactly ambiguous.

However, the ability to get more output for less money can be otherwise stated as increased competitiveness. Whether you think that balances out against other concerns is often not a highly empirical question at the individual level.

However you don't have to be highly educated to bear some of the home/child labor load that allows highly educated native women to remain in the workforce.

Our economy is growing thanks to additional jobs to service the growing economy.

Immigration is pure churn with disastrous impacts on societal cohesion and living standards.

I think you've hit the explanation for the cause of that disastrous impact on societal cohesion right on the nose.

You know, I imagine quite a lot of people who come the the USA would be quite OK with actualizing the narrative of the land of the USA as being "the land of the brave and free" and all that sort of stuff.

Too many people get stuffed up in debates about skin pigment and jawbone structures, etc., to focus on what actually matters. If you could see past the accent, etc., most often I think you'd find people who are more like what you want to be than you yourself are.

What's more American than freedom fighting?

If you could see past the accent, etc., most often I think you’d find people who are more like what you want to be than you yourself are.

What’s more American than freedom fighting?

Speak-aday English-ay?

I think you’d find people who are more like what you want to be than you yourself are.

You're capacity for presumptuousness never ceases to surprise.

Art - Do you think the US constitution is a good one, in particular if/when upheld?

Beep beep beep sensors detect someone who spent Thanksgiving alone.... estimated net worth 12000 dollars... 10000 of it in action figures....beep beep beep.... prognosis for Christmas....analysis says home alone.....

LOL says the guy pretending to be a robot. I clearly won this thread if that's all you got.

Except you are arguing with the guy pretending to be a robot. As a human I'd say his prognosis is right on the money. People with happening social lives don't spend the day after Thanksgiving arguing with robots. Even robots trained by Thomas Mann.

Alternate View: In 'Why Rich Countries Got Rich..', Reinert criticises neo-classical economics for having forgotten how First World countries got rich in the first place. They did not get rich by minimising the role of the state and implementing free trade. Rather it was through heavy state intervention in the form of subsides and tariffs. For example, in 1485 King Henry VII launched a deliberate policy of state intervention that made England a rich country. At the time England was an exporter of raw wool, an activity that was not particularly profitable. He encouraged the development of a manufacturing sector by granting tax exemptions and temporary monopolies to cloth manufacturers. He imposed export duties on raw wool to encourage keeping the raw material in the country. The result was a strong and developed industrial sector. England grew rich on the basis all subsequent nations have become rich on, importing raw materials and exporting industrial goods. These policies have also been followed by America, South Korea, Japan and others. Whereas Russia followed the neo-classical model of free trade and no state intervention with disastrous results.

What is just as important is what happened next. After developing an industrial base behind a protective wall, English industry was ready to compete. Once England was developed, it no longer needed protection. The need for a larger market to gain larger economies of scale lead to the development of free trade during the 19th century. This is a crucial point that is often over looked. Free trade does benefit a country but only if it is developed enough. Free trade as it is practices now, often leads to the removal of barriers before local industries are ready to compete, which leads to their destruction. This means it is not a question of whether free trade or protectionism is a better policy; it is which suits a country at this moment in time.

Btw, this narrative obliterates Yoon's 1st assumption. Manufacturing becomes productive and achieves scale economies precisely because of the existence of tariffs, which affords, say, the textile industry sufficient time to grow and become competitive. It was after this that tariff levels were reduced.

Erik Reinert: worth a read

Joe Studwell makes similar points about the development model many East Asian countries adopted after WWII. They used a tariffs, subsidies and "fail fast" policies to foster the export-focused industries that led to rapid economic growth.

The East Asian model depended on the existence of the West for: technology, finance, design, specialized goods, markets.

Sure, but I think the key takeaway is that significant tariffs played a prominent though temporary role. Perhaps I am not getting your point though.

" Perhaps I am not getting your point though."

My point is that the global market faced by the developing East Asian countries were very different from those:
1) faced by Western countries at the leading edge of industrialization;
2) faced by America today.

Even if tariffs "worked" for China in the 1990s does not mean they worked for America at any point in the past or would work for America in the future.


"The East Asian model depended on the existence of the West for: technology, finance, design, specialized goods, markets"

That's true but misses the point. Countries all over the world could have (hypothetically) adopted the "East Asian model" and enjoyed comparably favorable results. Only in East Asia did it actually happen. That makes East Asia special and worthy of study.

Some number of years ago I saw a critique of East Asian economic growth based on the observation that EA TFP wasn't great and all/almost all of EA growth was derived from capital deepening. The data is probably correct, but irrelevant. Only in EA did capital deepening work. Elsewhere it largely failed.

There was no unitary 'East Asian model'. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea all adopted different policy mixes.


"There was no unitary ‘East Asian model’. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea all adopted different policy mixes."

I would regard that statement has half true. Of course, Hong Kong and Singapore pursued quite different policies. However, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan had relatively similar policies. What they all had in common was the "Big Eight" (High savings, Worth ethic, Education ethic, Entrepreneurship, Homogeneity, Family life, Low crime, Highly effective public investment). Of course, there are exceptions. Japan is notoriously bureaucratic, not entrepreneurial. Singapore is not homogeneous (at a superficial level).

However, it is far to say that the "Big Eight" reasonably apply to all of the EA Tigers. The "Big Eight" are probably more important than specific policies. I once read a reasonably detailed comparison of Hong Kong and Singapore in the East Asian press. The author's point was that Hong Kong had done just as well as Singapore, without Singapore's policies. An interesting observation subject to many caveats.

That is one of the most underappreciated and widely ignored points in considering what other countries might learn from their experience in economic development.

Another important difference is the history of experience in centralized administration (whether as independent entities or as a part of a foreign occupying force, as in the case of Korea), which made it possible to deploy plans for industrialization (and other things).

"Whereas Russia followed the neo-classical model of free trade and no state intervention with disastrous results." - LOL!

Russia adopted no such model. Russia suffered from a breakdown of political authority coincident with a botched privatization program.

This debate is sterile, whether tariffs promote infant industries, akin to those people in the RBC / Ratex macro school who argue a tiny proposed tax measure in 1987 produced the 20% drop in the US stock market. You can calibrate a model to assume nearly any priors. Even Scott Sumner believes Fischer Black was not against monetarism and believed in money non-neutrality, if you read a recent comment in his blog (ludicrous but shows people will selectively read anything). Thus Joe Studwell's analysis is as 'backward looking' as this study, just flip sides of the same biased coin.

A better, sounder argument is that it's a variety of factors that promote growth, including labor, capital accumulation and patents (note, contrary to the implications of the study, in the earlier 19th century capital was very profitable and labor less so, then, with capital deepening, labor's share of the economic pie increased in the latter 19th century, arguing to me that it's capital accumulation that set the stage for the late 19th c industrial bloom --look at labor heavy but capital poor India-- but obviously you need a variety of factors).

For those of you that like 'infant industry' and 'state sponsored help' for industrialization, you must therefore like patents. So why are some of you so anti-patent? Probably since, unlike me, you've never actually invented anything.

cite by Allen for my previous point about land, labor and capital's shares of the factors of production. BTW Allen himself makes some assumptions, as does everybody, when computing these stats.

Robert C. Allen – from Economic Growth in the Early 19th Century - The Functional Distribution of Income-- A complete description of the functional distribution of income in the industrial revolution requires the histories of the prices of labour, land, and capital as well as the shares of national income accruing to each. Figures 1-3 graph most of these. All values are real returns and real shares measured in the prices of the 1850s. I consider them in the order in which they were constructed. Figure 1 shows the real wage, which grew very little from 1770 to about 1840 and then rose in line with output per worker. ... The real rent of land rose slowly from 1760 to the late nineteenth century (Clark 2002, p. 303). ... Capital income also included the return to residential housing and, beginning about 1840, the net income of railways, which were the principal business corporations before the middle of the nineteenth century. Thereafter, corporate earnings became an increasingly important part of capital income. ... The share of rent in national income declined gradually over the century. The shares of wages and profits exhibited conflicting trends. In the late eighteenth century, labour’s share was about 60%. It declined steadily until the middle of the nineteenth century to around one half. Then it rose steadily to a peak around 1900 when its value was back to its late eighteenth century level. Finally, labour’s share sagged again in the decade before the First World War. Capital’s share moved inversely, more than doubling from a late eighteenth century value of 20% to over 40% in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Notice in Allen's narrative how labor surges in the late 19th century, when industrialization 'blossomed' yet profitability as measured by the rate of return of capital sagged. Hence you can look at this two ways: one is that the surge in labor's share of the factors of production 'caused' the late 19th c bloom (which seems to be the Yoon paper's conclusion), or, more properly IMO, the earlier capital accumulation of the pre-1850s was the real cause of the late 19th c bloom (remember labor and capital's shares are inverses, if you assume rent is constant; when capital is less profitable more labor is used and vice versa). It's all a matter of interpretation. What comes first, chicken or egg? You need a variety of factors but it seems to me the early 19th c capital accumulation and tinkering helped the later bloom, though for sure Maxwell's equations also played a role (Google this about late 19th c innovation); the Pinkerton strikes of the late 19th century were more about labor clamoring for a share in the profits rather than a driver of growth as Yoon assumes. As for tariffs, they are trivial (akin to Irwin's analysis about Smoot Hawley). More important than tariffs is stealing inventions from the UK by the USA and improving on existing inventions (see Rose's book "American Rifle" for an example of improving on an existing 'stolen' invention, the Jager rifle), one reason the USA and the world needs a better patent policy IMO to encourage this kind of innovation properly.

Key sentence in Allen: "The shares of wages and profits exhibited conflicting trends. In the late eighteenth century, labour’s share was about 60%. It declined steadily until the middle of the nineteenth century to around one half. Then it rose steadily to a peak around 1900 "

A strategy can be well-suited to one situation and poorly situated to another.

What would you predict of the long-term development of a national auto industry in Nigeria, say, in the cases of zero barriers as compared to a high barrier against imports, both of which considered in a context where Nigerian competitors competed to serve their domestic market.

There are other ways, and other arguments, of course. Which may include requirements for foreign producers to make use of certain domestic inputs, presumably at levels well-suited to the development situation and trajectory of the economy (perhaps making some kinds of parts, but not engines, for example).

Anyways, the way you oppose the use of tools for infant industries and patents is confusing. It is true that some countries do not respect US or EU or other patents on certain products, under the rationale that they are inhumane (such as India on pharma stuff). Patents are a tool which are useful in the market and at societal levels when set correctly, but the notion that someone who manages to patch together the accumulated knowledge of all of human history in some particular manner that will get them rich then DESERVES these proceeds is a fiction - it is a convenient fiction that is useful for efficient allocation of financial and other resources, but sometimes it becomes bent sigificantly against the public interest

Nonsense on stilts Troll Me when you say: "the accumulated knowledge of all of human history in some particular manner that will get them rich then DESERVES these proceeds is a fiction". No it's not a fiction, it's an assumption, the same as your implicit assumption.

I'll not be reading this thread, but consider this: are inventors born (like you seem to think) or are they made (as I know better, I'm in the invention field, at least indirectly, and I have patents in my name)?

If born, the inventors do not respond to incentives, and really there's no need for patents. In fact, nearly all of Nobel Prize scientists did not think of patents when they did their inventions (MRI and Dr. Damadian, who invented a sort of binary ON/OFF MRI detector, would be an exception, but he got snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee, and arguably the real work of MRI in making it like a camera was done by others, as the Nobel Prize committee realized, but still Damadian should have been rewarded). Also all famous mathematicians don't receive hardly any patents (a few exceptions like AT&T's Traveling Salesman patent come to mind, and some data compression algorithms, but that's in the minority and even being scaled back as we speak). Ditto physicists (by law no patents for 'laws of nature'). Ditto surgical procedures (did you know cutting a lung a certain way will cure certain cases of emphysema? Really was a shock to discover that). Is that fair? Yes, if you take the traditional view that "inventors are not made, they are born, and geeks will invent for free and a pat on the back from society". You're smart enough to figure out the converse of the above, so I'll hit the Enter key now...

Obviously my digression on Dr. D realizes that ex post Nobel Prize rewards are not the same as ex ante patent rewards, just making the point about Nobelists not caring about patents.

Someone had to invent the wheel before you could drive to the hardware shop on your horse and buggy to get the correct souldering materials of the correct percentage purity (how do they even do that?) to get the conductivity you were looking for in that gadget you were hoping would work out just so ...

Your contribution? Tinkering about until the bulb didn't blow. Using a scientific method established by others and taught to you in school by teachers paid using taxpayer resources.

So we tax it back to the tune of 50% if you hit it big.

It's a convenient fiction that you really deserve what 50% you keep, but I'm quite OK with that fiction because it is useful for allocations in financial markets and to provide strong incentives to individuals to try.

The study's conclusion seems sort of trivially obvious, since much of the U.S. was still being settled.

It seem internally the post-CW U.S. must itself have been a massive relatively free-trade zone compared to most other countries, especially during what we might call the Age of Rail. Developing trade opportunities in California might have been more important to New York than those in GB or France, to say nothing of those in the developing Midwest.

'Could the U.S. have grown as it did without the high tariffs imposed on its manufacturing imports in the late 19th century?'

Probably - after all, the U.S. continued to ignore any patents but its own during that period, meaning that American manufacturers were free to steal anybody else's IP to make a buck.


This is also covered in the Reinert book above.

the U.S. continued to ignore any patents but its own during that period,

A prudent man would assume you pulled that our of your ass.

Didn't just copying Britain and Germany do most of the work?

Oops, pt2 has made a similar point already.

Per capita product in this country, per Angus Maddison, exceeded that in Britain by 1903. There has never been a time in the last 170 years when it did not exceed Germany's. Prior_approval is a tool.

I thought it was more about attracting the people to the land of the free, etc., but maybe it was more about copying.

It wasn't about copying, or we'd have been less affluent than European states, not more.

You're not prudent.

You're a fool.

Read the book & convince yourself.

"""the large increase in labour force is the single most important factor behind the development of the U.S. economy."""

But while increasing labor force might increase output it does not necessarily increase per worker output. So if you have a country with 10 million workers and increase it to 20 million but out put only increases 80% then you actually have decreased per worker wealth. Sure some people, usually at the top are richer, the overall wealth per worker is down. Also with more workers flooding in then the wages of the workers drop due to supply and demand.

Plus the negatives of more crowding and less natural resources per workers.

And then there are negative effects of a flood workers decreasing the demand for labor saving devices, why buy the new metal stamping machine when you can just hire another cheap workers and give them a hammer to join the other hammer welding workers you already have. A new metal stamping machine has large up front costs plus risk that it might break, much easier to hire another cheap laborer and give them a hammer. If they laborer breaks, or he breaks the hammer then just hire another cheap worker

High labor cost countries have big incentive to increase per worker output, that is why they developed such things, the low labor cost countries usually just steal the ideas from the high labor cost countries or buy it up when foolish policies allow them to drive high labor cost companies out of business.

Let me develop the scenario a little differently.

10 million workers at 10k a head = 100 billion GDP

20 million workers at 9k a head = 180 billion GDP

Now let's imagine that the original 10 million workers still make the same money. I know this isn't true for people competing in lower-skilled jobs, but for many people it is true, and mostly this serves to keep the numbers simple while showing the point.

If those workers all continue to earn the same income, this situation is the same as 10 million new workers producing an additional $80 billion.

So, you have 10 million workers at 10k each and a further 10 million workers at 8k each.

What, then, if these additional workers at 8k each can be used as a part of production processes which enable to export more efficiently, whether due to the new workers being directly involved in export-oriented production processes, or just because more human resources were freed up due to cheaper lawn care, etc.?

So, realistically, some of the original 10 million have to compete with the newcomers, who are accustomed to a lower standard of living and therefore willing to work harder for the same amount of money. These people exist, but I'm not sure how the full policy packages of politicians who oppose immigration are going to help these people, especially in the medium or long run.

Tariffs do not drive industrialisation or productivity - they result in improved rent seeking opportunities by already rich people. The 19C UK corn laws are still the best example. Did having corn laws mean that landowners in the UK invested more in agriculture thus making Britain the breadbasket of the world and that their farm workers also benefit by having well paid jobs? - of course not. It actually meant that rich landowners could do less to improve their land/productivity and still make monopoly style profits on the backs of the poor? And they still paid their workers as little as they could.

Countries get rich by specialisation and trading, not by subsiding already rich people's businesses. I try to do business frequently in places like India and Indonesia and this evil rubbish on protectionism is keeping them in poverty while make a few fat cats even fatter.

"We will be so rich that they will redistribute some of that wealth" is a typical argument of the rich.

I suppose this is interesting as an historical point, but not so important today. Lest readers forget, globalization occurred not in spite of efforts of western (U.S.) firms to prevent it, but because of their efforts to shift production to low cost developing countries. Are western countries going to defy their largest and most successful firms by forcing them to return their production back to western countries? Besides, these aren't really "western firms" any longer, as firms in a global economy belong to no single country: they and their owners are global citizens and their incomes are global incomes. That China, India, Vietnam, et al. stole business from western firms is preposterous. Indeed, if an "American firm" shifts its domicile from America to a tax haven, is it no longer an "American firm", from whom Americans won't purchase goods? Would America impose tariffs on that firm's goods when sold to Americans?

"The role of high tariffs... in the late 19th century is still hotly debated."

If our elite corps of professional economists still cannot figure out what happened in the 19th Century, what hope is there of them helping us understand the 20th or 21st Centuries?

The signal: noise ratio in modern economics is exceedingly dim, judging by the feeble logic in the paper invoked by TC @ top.

What would Keynes think if he came back today?

Not long ago, most people thought we were going to "run out of workers", and that the economy would advance better if more people were freed up for more high value activity.

I really do think that a lot of economists at the time were somewhat deluded about the fungibility of people, for example the difficulty of transforming a 40 year old factory line worker into a software engineer within that same lifetime.

Presumably the much larger profits that could be obtained by multinational corporations might have affected the way the wanted to use their ability to influence related policy processes. Executives owe allegiance to shareholders, not nations or citizens, although clearly it is also in their commercial interest to be sensible in these regards as well.

Another question that has to be asked is the role of natural resources in development. The US during the developmental period was self-sufficient in the key resources. In addition, the huge amount of land that could be successfully farmed was in stark contrast to many European countries. Developments in farm implements during this period also improved productivity.

Additionally, land in what became the US was confiscated from its owners and redistributed at little or no cost, something that couldn't have happened in Europe in that era.

There were no 'owners'.

Well, the original inhabitants had a different view of property anyways.

Shall we write this up as an outrageous historical lie, or enter into discussion of misunderstandings and faux justifications offered in the process of conquering lands inhabited by those who survived the original ravages of diseases which entered the New World?

The aboriginal occupants did not form settled societies where there was anything like property ownership of anything other than portable chattels. They occupied land until it was exhausted or until some other aboriginal band ejected them. There is nothing peculiar to the succession of one society by a stronger society, something that occurred again and again on the Eurasian land mass in historical time and something which was occurring in Africa during Europe's early modern period. It's just that we're treated to the posturing of fools striking stupid attitudes on the subject, fools who have freed themselves of the obligation to put their money where their mouth is by not having a clue as to where they might go in order to cleanse themselves of someone else's supposed property.

Art's exactly right here. We (the US) owe the last remnants of Native Americans a debt, but there's really no point in doing much else. No one is able to go back and change history from 200-400 years ago.

I'm too lazy right now to go find the references, but it is increasingly known, in part from archaeological evidence, that there had been far more advanced forms of civilization north of Mexico than had previously been recognized.

The massive loss of population due to spread of disease after contact with Europeans is thought to have undermined them significantly enough as to have resulted in observations in later centuries of what existed at that later point in time. This is not a question of "if" but "how much".

So ... perhaps we got a similar standard sort of storyline in what we learned when younger, but when I was going through uni was about the time this sort of stuff was coming out. Suffice to say that it is debated and not settled, and that sometimes historical revisionism (in fact, adjustments to evidence via reason) might even be in the direction of truth.

The settled societies, like the Mississipi River civilization, were wiped out by plague and their fields and cities seized by incoming colonists. You should stop getting your North American History from old cowboy movies reruns.

I suspect the cost of shipping lower value generic goods across the Atlantic was probably as big a factor as any tariff.

One could try to look for differences in the rates of growth between manufactured goods with different ratios between value and cost of transport.

Government subsidies for the construction of canals and railroads played an important role in the industrialization of America.

I seem to recall Stanley Engerman (referring to the work of another scholar) estimating the social savings of the railroad at about 2% of the sum of production in the early 19th century. So, no.

Yet again, you write of 1-2% of EVERYTHING as an irrelevant amount.

Do you laugh at 200 billion dollars on the table? That's 1% of the US economy.



"Government subsidies for the construction of canals and railroads played an important role in the industrialization of America."

Probably not. For example, the Erie canal was so profitable that it supported the budget of the State of New York for years. The railroads were generally quite capable of attracting private capital. Were there some subsidies? Yes. However, most of the transportation infrastructure was apparently built for profit.

" the Erie canal was so profitable that it supported the budget of the State of New York for years."

The fact that it was profitable after it was built does not change the fact that it took public money to get it built.

And by, "the large increase in labour force," he means, "the dramatic advances in agricultural technology & productivity that reduced the farm labor force from 58% in 1860 to 31% by 1910."

There weren't any high tariffs on the import of people, first slaves and later European proles.

US banned the importation of slaves in 1808.

The Constitution prior to Congress banning importation of slaves did allow up a $10 tariff on each imported slave

There is no such thing as free trade. The name was chosen to project a flattering image but it is false. It is and always was intended to be a laundry list of incentives and benefits for certain people and industries. Ask yourself why trade treaties run thousands of pages long. Two reasons; 1. to give every favored special interest group the goodies that they bought and paid for. 2. to have so much legal gobbledygook in it that most people cannot discover all the 'free stuff' for special interests.

Our interests, that is the U.S. and the citizen's interests, have been sold out from under us to a few international corporations.

It isn't always that way. Obviously certain industries are influential in seeking exceptions, etc., for example US, EU and Japanese resistance against easing up on their huge farming subsidies as a part of the DOHA talks to reduce trade barriers. But consider that as starting from a status quo, and the fact of retaining certain aspects of the status quo (not opening up the special interest to stronger competition) does not therefore make the failure to change from the status quo in a particular direction somehow magically become it's own opposite - failing to open up competition does not constitute an act of closing competition, it constitutes an act of maintaining a status quo.

However, in the case of the TPP which is presently debated, I think it is fairly obvious that many special protections are ADDITIONALLY included, in addition to anit-democratic components which always put the full cost of policy risk anywhere other than on corporations (such protections are not afforded to workers, consumers, or any other group than multinationals), and there are also other measures which further entrench information sharing and invasive access which make a mockery of national laws on IT privacy and security (cross-border ISP access rules).

But the tariffs caused the movement of people. If Europe had been able to export to the US their economies wouldn't have sucked as much and their smartest and hardest working people wouldn't have emigrated to the US to create the economic powerhouse that it became.

Take that and stuff it in your counterfactual pipe.

Doesn't anyone have real work to do?

Per Maddison, per capita product in this country in 1840 had surpassed that of nearly every part of Europe bar Britain and the Netherlands. Prosperity was not dependent on mass immigration. Annual immigration flows prior to 1840 averaged 0.125% of the extant population per annum, and came from the country's foundational nationalities.

The continent had suffered major depopulation after European diseases were spread after contact.

Due to economies of scale, total specializations economically feasible in an economy, etc., its not such a strange idea to think that they really needed more total people for things to really get moving, especially considering that pre-existing populations which survived were not lining up to join the way of life and economy of the settlers and colonists.

"their smartest and hardest working people"

America has mostly been populated by the world's cast offs. Including Scots from the clearances and Irish from the potato famine.

I didn't read the paper. But my thought is that it should be obvious that an increase in the labor force had a very significant impact on the level of GDP. What really matters though is if tariffs significantly impacted the growth rate of GDP per capita.

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