DP8937 | Protectionism Isn?t Counter-Cyclic (anymore)

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01/04/2012

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Abstract

Conventional wisdom holds that protectionism is counter-cyclic; tariffs, quotas and the like grow during recessions. While that may have been a valid description of the data before the Second World War, it is no longer accurate. In the post-war era, protectionism has not actually moved counter-cyclically. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers do not systematically rise during cyclic downturns; if anything, they tend to fall. I document this new stylized fact with a wide panel of data, using a variety of measures of protectionism and business cycles. I also provide some hints as to why protectionism is no longer counter-cyclic.