Douglas Irwin, Dartmouth College, presented his new book Clashing Over Commerce at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on December 11, 2017.
Trade policy has been the source of bitter political conflict throughout American history. Such conflict was inevitable, James Madison argued in his essay Federalist 10, because trade policy involves clashing economic interests. The struggle between the winners and losers from trade has always been fierce because dollars and jobs are at stake: Depending on what policy is chosen, some industries, farmers, and workers will prosper, while others will suffer. Irwin’s new book, Clashing over Commerce, is the most authoritative and comprehensive history of US trade policy to date, offering a clear picture of the various economic and political forces that have shaped it from the colonial period to the present, from the original (Boston) tea party to Trump. As the Trump administration considers making major changes to US trade policy, Irwin’s sweeping historical perspective helps illuminate the current debate. Deeply researched and rich with insight and detail, Clashing over Commerce provides valuable and enduring insights into US trade policy past and present.
Irwin is the John French Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is author of such books as Free Trade Under Fire (Princeton University Press, fourth edition 2015), Trade Policy Disaster: Lessons from the 1930s (MIT Press, 2012), Peddling Protectionism: Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression (Princeton University Press, 2011), and Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade (Princeton University Press, 1996). He has also served on the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.