‘Making More of Our Own Stuff’


Rich, the United States is the world’s No. 3 exporter of pharmaceuticals, behind Germany and Switzerland. It seems to me that shortages in our emergency supplies of critical drugs are a planning problem, not a trade problem.

I am not sure what “We are going to need to make more of our own stuff” would look like as a policy. If we believed that we have a critical vulnerability in our supply of drug x, then we could, I suppose, order domestic firms to manufacture a certain quantity of x, assuming that that can be done legally (i.e., that there is no intellectual-property encumbrance). On the other hand, if we believed that we have a critical vulnerability in our supply of drug x, then the relevant parties could simply purchase a backup supply of x from whichever firm makes it.

Of course, that would require some foresight not typically shown by U.S. public institutions, but surely that is a smaller intellectual challenge than trying to preemptively predict which goods might see an interruption in trade years or decades in advance and then having Washington fiat domestic alternatives into existence. And I wonder who would be issuing those fiats. Peter Navarro?

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