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The Return to Protectionism

Pablo Fajgelbaum (), Pinelopi Goldberg (), Patrick J. Kennedy and Amit Khandelwal

No 25638, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: After decades of supporting free trade, in 2018 the U.S. raised import tariffs and major trade partners retaliated. We analyze the short-run impact of this return to protectionism on the U.S. economy. Import and retaliatory tariffs caused large declines in imports and exports. Prices of imports targeted by tariffs did not fall, implying complete pass-through of tariffs to duty-inclusive prices. The resulting losses to U.S. consumers and firms who buy imports was $51 billion, or 0.27% of GDP. We embed the estimated trade elasticities in a general-equilibrium model of the U.S. economy. After accounting for tariff revenue and gains to domestic producers, the aggregate real income loss was $7.2 billion, or 0.04% of GDP. Import tariffs favored sectors concentrated in politically competitive counties, and the model implies that tradeable-sector workers in heavily Republican counties were the most negatively affected due to the retaliatory tariffs.

JEL-codes: F1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-int
Note: ITI
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Published as Pablo D Fajgelbaum & Pinelopi K Goldberg & Patrick J Kennedy & Amit K Khandelwal, 2020. "The Return to Protectionism*," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol 135(1), pages 1-55.

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