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Noah Smith

U.S. Could Give Exporters a Helping Hand

Certain subsidies are legal, cheap and could help free trade.
A clear message.

A clear message.

Source: Geography Photos/UIG/Getty Images

Economics commentators have a habit of referring to any and all government interventions in international trade under the blanket terms of protectionism and trade barriers. As for economists themselves, the general consensus in favor of free trade seems to prevent most researchers from publicly suggesting policy experiments that interfere with trade. But not all interventions are created equal. There’s a good case to be made that export subsidies are a good policy, conferring some of the benefits that economists typically associate with free trade.

The U.S. is a big country. That’s probably one reason why it doesn’t export much, compared to other rich countries: