2.6 — An Intellectual History of Trade IV: Increasing Returns & Industrial Policy — Class Content

Meeting Date

Tuesday, April 11, 2023


Today, we continue looking at an intellectual history of trade, discussing more modern increasing returns arguments for industrial policy, extending into the present.


John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight covers recent trade policies (in 2018) of the Trump administration, the brainchild of economist Peter Navarro. Some of it has been carried into the Biden administration.

Optional Readings

Much of my intellectual history series of lectures comes from Chapters 5-9 of Douglas Irwin’s1 excellent book:

Questions To Help Your Reading

  • What is the role of the State in promoting development?
  • How do we identify which industries might be worth protecting via industrial policy?
  • What are the supposed successes of industrial policy (e.g. Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong) and how/why were they successful?
  • What are the politics of the infant industry argument?
  • What should our trade policy be, and what should we tell other poor countries to do, if they want rapid growth?


Below, you can find the slides in two formats. Clicking the image will bring you to the html version of the slides in a new tab. The lower button will allow you to download a PDF version of the slides.


You can type h to see a special list of viewing options, and type o for an outline view of all the slides.

I suggest printing the slides beforehand and using them to take additional notes in class (not everything is in the slides)!


Download as PDF


  1. One of the best economic historians on trade.↩︎