Trade Deficits: People Still Being Told They Are "Draining the Wealth of the Country"


The Washington Times takes us back to the glorious mercantilist days of yestercentury in its piece the other day crowing about shrinking "trade deficit" numbers (which they credit to weakening dollar, increased domestic energy production):

Trade deficits act like a dead weight on the economy by draining the wealth of the country and bleeding domestic industries. 

As Milton Friedman told me in 1995, and we weren't even talking about Adam Smith, Bastiat, and the basic notion that more trade, at least if it represents the sought-out free choices of individuals trying to better their perceived cirumstances, the same fallacies about economics recur eternally and will never be defeated.

Or to put it more baldly, I don't feel "drained" by my grotesque trade deficit with the Von's supermarket on the corner. I'm pretty sure they haven't bought a single book or article from me.

Murray Rothbard with the Austrian/free-market perspective on the non-issue of "trade deficits" writ large (which is not the same as saying that the specific numbers associated with "trade deficits" at any given time might or might not be caused by some government policy that is ill-advised for some other reason):