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Do Big Countries Win Tariff Wars?


  • Kennan, John
  • Riezman, Raymond


Yes. It is widely believed that tariffs invite retaliation, and that the postretaliation equilibrium l eaves all countries worse off than they would be at free trade. The a uthors present a simple pure exchange model, with two countries and t wo goods, and show which endowment patterns are consistent with this belief. They find that if one country is substantially bigger than th e other it can expect to gain from a tariff war, despite retaliation. The model can be extended to show that the advantage obtained by bei ng part of a large trading unit can help explain the formation of cus toms unions. Copyright 1988 by Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Kennan, John & Riezman, Raymond, 1988. "Do Big Countries Win Tariff Wars?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(1), pages 81-85, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:29:y:1988:i:1:p:81-85

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mussa, Michael, 1974. "Tariffs and the Distribution of Income: The Importance of Factor Specificity, Substitutability, and Intensity in the Short and Long Run," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1191-1203, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Russell S. Boyer, 1977. "Commercial Policy under Alternative Exchange Rate Regimes," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 10(2), pages 218-232, May.
    3. Lloyd A. Metzler, 1949. "Tariffs, the Terms of Trade, and the Distribution of National Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57, pages 1-1.
    4. Mussa, Michael, 1974. "A Monetary Approach to Balance-of-Payments Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 333-351, August.
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    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations


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