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Is free trade always best?

Comments on Andrew Leigh’s little blog “Free Trade Helps Families and Kids” and Russell’s comments, http://andrewleigh.com/?p=2101#comments

Three points about this. First, there is an alternative to free trade that can help families and kids, as well as local writers and publishers if and assuming there is value in fostering local writers and publishers. Have a low tariff on imported books and use the income to subsidise those locals. As long as the tariff and subsidies can be right tuned, there should be a point where the national welfare is optimal.

My second point is about partial or general equilibrium. Though partial is interesting in some areas and for some purposes, it is incomplete and misses the important links that general equilibrium is and has. So there may be case to have both general and partial equilibrium studies.

Lastly, about Russell's point. Russell seems to have made two points, the first one is the quality of that study is not good. For that I can't comments, because I have not read that report. Russell's second point is a more general one that I like to make a comment on. What Russell seems to suggest is that the report is not general enough and missed some important issues that should be included in that study. This may or may not correct.

Any study has a focus and has its limitations, otherwise you can't finish any study since there are always issues that could be related and not included. One has to define the most appropriate scope of a study, and include the most important and relevant issues and leaves some out. Russell would make a stronger and more pertinent point if he uses specific examples from the report. That would be more helpful.

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