Friday, 7 May 2010

International trade doesn't affect the number of jobs: 1903 version

In an earlier posting I made the point that importing the new trains for Auckland from overseas would not affect the number of jobs in New Zealand. Now I find I am more than a hundred years late in making this point!

In the latest issue of Econ Journal Watch they reprint a anti-protectionism letter to the The Times (of London), and other papers, which appeared on 15 August 1903. The letter was signed by C.F. Bastable, A.L. Bowley, Edwin Cannan, Leonard Courtney, F.Y. Edgeworth, E.C.K. Gonner, Alfred Marshall, J.S. Nicholson, L.R. Phelps, A. Pigou, C.P. Sanger, W.R. Scott, W. Smart, and Armitage Smith, and supported after the fact by S.J. Chapman and J.H. Chapman. Now that is a serious list of heavy hitting British economists at this time.

What I find interesting is the following section of the letter:
Our convictions on this subject are opposed to certain popular opinions, with respect to which we offer the following observations:-
1. It is not true that an increase of imports involves the diminished employment of workmen in the importing country. The statement is universally rejected by those who have thought about the subject, and is completely refuted by experience.
Perhaps those at The Standard need to read a little more history.

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