Are we avoiding a protectionist outburst?

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Joseph Francois attributes “deafening sounds of silence along Smoot-Hawley lines” during the present crisis to the success of the GATT/WTO as a “systemic safeguard.”

While I agree that there has been a noticeable absence of protectionist responses (and a number of academics have called for a liberalising response), it is difficult to disentangle the institutional backstop from the intellectual consensus. Does the particular construction of WTO policies and mechanisms matter, or is it merely the underlying sentiments telling policymakers not to repeat the 1930s disaster?

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