Combating the balance of trade, I will be told, is like tilting at windmills.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms First Series.

Let’s give credit where credit is due, Adam Smith wrote as soon as 1776 in his An Inquiriy into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (book 4, chapter 3, part II): “Nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints, but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded.”

Unfortunately, 170 years after Bastiat and 250 years after Smith, a large part of the world and its politicians (including the president of the United States in 2020 to begin with) still have not understood how international trade works and keep on thinking that exports are more legitimate than imports, and therefore think that it is necessary to do whatever it takes to make sure that the former are more important than the latter.

For anybody who would still have any doubt on the absurdity of this concept, the only thing to do is take ten minutes to read the sixth sophism of the first series and join the too select club of those who get it…

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