Economists Letter on Trade Policy Part II

Here is part I

Here is part II:

From: Bryan Riley <>

Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2020 11:20 AM

To: Walter Block <>

Subject: Re: Economists letter on trade policy

I understand–thanks for taking the time to email. As you may recall I found your classic book “Defending the Undefendable” on the racks of the Kansas St University library back in the 1980s and it has had a lasting impact. For what it’s worth I didn’t write the line you are concerned about but we didn’t think it was a deal breaker in general!

Dear Bryan:

Thanks for your kind words. The one line was a deal breaker for me since it called upon the government to do something. It implied that the free enterprise system would not suffice. Eg., that there was a market failure. I’m not a big fan of the market failure doctrine.

Here’s a bibliography of Austro-libertarian critiques of this attack on laissez faire capitalism:


Bator, 1958; Hummel, 2008; Medema, 2004; Pigou, 1932

Bator, Francis M.  1958.  The anatomy of market failure.  Quarterly Journal of Economics 72 (August):  351–79.

Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers. 2008. “Toward a Libertarian Reconstruction of Neoclassical Welfare Theory” Journal of Private Enterprise 24.1: 119-130;

Medema, Steven G. July 2004. “Mill, Sidgwick, and the Evolution of the Theory of Market Failure,” July;

Pigou, Arthur, C. 1932 [1920]. The Economics of Welfare, 4th ed. London: Macmillan


Anderson, 1998; Barnett, et. al, 2005; Block, 2001, 2002; Callahan, 2000; Cowen, 1988; DiLorenzo, 2011; Guillory, 2005; Higgs, 1995; Hoppe, 2003; MacKenzie, 2002; McCloskey, 2018; Rothbard, 1985;  Simpson, 2005; Tucker, 1989; Westley, 2002; Woods, 2009A, 2009B

Anderson, William L. 1998. “Market Failure?” October 8;

Barnett II, William, Walter E. Block and Michael Saliba. 2005. “Perfect Competition: A Case of ‘Market-Failure,’” Corporate Ownership & Control. Vol. 2, No. 4, summer, p. 70-75

Block, Walter E. 2001. “Comment on Canice Prendergast’s ‘A Theory of ‘Yesmen,’” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 4, No. 2, summer, pp. 61-68;

Block, Walter E. 2002. “All Government is Excessive: A Rejoinder to ‘In Defense of Excessive Government’ by Dwight Lee,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 35-82;

Callahan, Gene. 2000. “Market Failure Again?” April 4;

Cowen, Tyler, ed. 1988. The Theory of Market Failure: A Critical Examination, Fairfax, VA: George Mason University Press

DiLorenzo, Thomas. 2011. “A Note on the Canard of ‘Asymmetric Information’ as a Source of Market Failure.” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 14,  No. 2, 249–255, Summer

Guillory, Gil. 2005. “What Are You Calling Failure?” May 5;

Higgs, Robert. 1995. “The Myth of ‘Failed’ Policies.” The Free Market. June. Vol. 13, No. 6.

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann, ed. 2003. The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production. Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute

MacKenzie, D. W. 2002. “The Market Failure Myth “August 26;

McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen. 2018. “They Hate the Chicago School and Have Never Heard of the Austrian School.” February 11;

Rothbard, Murray N. 1985. “Airport Congestion: A Case of Market Failure?” The Free Market.  Auburn, AL: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, January,

Simpson, Brian. 2005. Markets Don’t Fail. New York, N.Y.: Lexington Books

Westley, Christopher. 2002. “The Myth of Market Failure” June 14;

Woods, Thomas E. Jr. 2009A. “Krugman Failure, Not Market Failure” June 19;

Woods, Thomas E. Jr. 2009B. “Response to the ‘Market Failure’ Drones” June 10;

Best regards,



2:33 pm on April 30, 2020