Saturday, 31 August 2013

"When goods don't cross borders, armies will."

Over at the EconLog blog David Henderson is discussing the above quote normally attributed to Frederic Bastiat. But as Henderson points out there is little evidence that Bastiat actually said it. I posted on this topic back in 2009, see here and here.

The closest thing to the above quote I was able to find back in 2009 was one that says,
If soldiers are not to cross international borders, goods must do so.
According Jeffry Frieden, on page 255 of his 2006 book "Global Capitalism", the above quote is due to one Otto Maller and he gives a reference to page 37 of Alfred E. Eckes's 1975 book, "A Search for Solvency: Bretton Woods and the International Monetary System, 1941-1971". Maller, we are told, was a supporter of FDR's Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

It looks like the name Maller is a bit wrong as it should be Mallery. If you can find a copy of the Alfred E. Eckes's book you will indeed find the above quote is on page 37. Eckes writes,
Like nineteenth-century liberals, Otto Mallery believed that free trade was the panacea for economic nationalism and great power rivalries. "If soldiers are not to cross international boundaries," he said, "goods must do so."
The reference that Eckes gives to for the Mallery quote is "Otto T. Mallery, "Economic Union and Enduring Peace," Annals 216 (July 1941): 125-134; quotations on p. 125."

Let me give the full, albeit only two sentence, paragraph from "Economic Union and Enduring Peace" which runs over the bottom of page 125 and the top of page 126:
If soldiers are not to cross international boundaries, goods must do so. Unless shackles can be dropped from trade, bombs will be dropped from the sky. (Emphasis in the original.)
The details given at the end of the paper on Mallery are
Otto Tod Mallery, A.B., Philadelphia, was one of the drafters and sponsors of the National Employment Stabilization Act and is a consultant on the National Resources Planning Board which administers this act. He has originated legislation which brought into being new governmental agencies in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and has held administrative positions in city, state, and Federal Governments. He was chief economist of the United States Department of Commerce. In 1937 he was economic adviser to the United States Government Delegation to the Conference of the International Labor Organization at Geneva, and in 1939 to the United States Employers' Delegation to the Conference of the American States, members of the Inter- national Labor Organization, at Habana. He is president of the Playground and Recreation Association of Philadelphia, and member of the Board of Directors of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. He is part author of "Business Cycles and Unemployment" (1923).
All of which means we are still left with the question of whether or not the Bastiat quote is genuine. But it seems unlikely.

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