CFR Resources

Jonathan Masters and James McBride, “Foreign Investment and U.S. National Security,” last updated August 28, 2018.

A backgrounder that explores why some U.S. policymakers are worried about Chinese foreign investment and what policy options are available to limit it. (1,900 words)

James McBride and Andrew Chatzky, “The U.S. Trade Deficit: How Much Does It Matter?,” last updated March 8, 2019.

A backgrounder on what a trade deficit is and why some observers worry about it and others do not. (2,800 words)

James McBride, “What’s Next for the WTO?,” last updated March 23,2018.

Written in the wake of the failure of the Doha Development Round and in light of the Donald J. Trump administration’s trade policies, a backgrounder that examines the challenges faced by the World Trade Organization and what its future might be. (2,100 words)

James McBride and Andrew Chatzky, “What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?,” last updated January 4, 2019.

An explanation of the TPP and its future after the Trump administration decided to withdraw from it. (2,100 words)


David Barboza, Marc Santora, and Alexandra Stevenson, “China Seeks Influence in Europe, One Business Deal at a Time,” New York Times, August 12, 2018.

A story about increasing Chinese foreign investment in Europe. (3,300 words)

Szu Ping Chan, “When’s a Van a Van and When’s It a Car?,” BBC, October 18, 2018.

A story about a tariff dispute involving Ford vans that illustrates how tariffs work. (1,200 words)

Forty-Four African Countries Sign a Free-Trade Deal,” Economist, March 22, 2018.

A story about negotiations to create a regional trade agreement for Africa that includes background on the current state of African trade and the potential benefits of growing intra-continental trade. (600 words)

Jack Nicas, “A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be ‘Assembled in USA,’” New York Times, January 18, 2019.

A story about iPhone manufacturing that demonstrates specialization and supply chains in action. (1,600 words)

Jacob M. Schlesinger, “How China Swallowed the WTO,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2017.

A story, with some excellent graphs, about how the WTO has changed since China joined it. (2,900 words)

Emily Stewart, “Trump Tweets That Tariffs Are Making the US ‘Richer Than Ever Before.’ They’re Not.,” Vox, November 29, 2018.

An explanation of how tariffs work, in response to a tweet from Trump. (1,000 words)

James Surowiecki, “Spy vs. Spy,” New Yorker, June 9 and 16, 2014.

A story about industrial espionage that puts recent Chinese efforts into historical perspective. (900 words)

Jim Tankersley, “A Winter-Coat Heavyweight Gives Trump’s Trade War the Cold Shoulder,” New York Times, November 23, 2018.

A story about how one outerwear company designs its products in response to tariff regulations. (1,700 words)


Council for Economic Education, "Benefits of Trade: Comparative Advantage", 2019.

The brief video explains comparative advantage and why countries trade with each other. Also included is Kahoot quiz on topic. (4 minutes)

Council for Economic Education, “Comparative Advantage Activity”, 2015.

This interactive tool rigorously illustrates the concept of comparative advantage.

Jad Abumrad and Krulwich, “Mutant Rights,” in Radiolab, podcast, WNYC Studios, December 22, 2011.

A short story about, in part, the details of how tariffs work. (17 minutes)

Sarah Wildman, “The Ghost of Smoot-Hawley,” in The ER, podcast, Foreign Policy, August 3, 2018.

A conversation with economist Douglas Irwin, who discusses the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and trade wars in general. (27 minutes)

The Whole World Was Watching,” produced by John DeGraaf, KCTS 9, May 29, 2009.

An evenhanded documentary about the 1999 protests in Seattle during the WTO’s ministerial meeting. (26 minutes)

Jacob Goldstein and Robert Smith, “Trade Show,” in Planet Money, podcast, NPR, September 23, 2016.

An exploration of 240 years of trade history, told in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a few months after the Brexit vote. (23 minutes)


Donovan Hohn, Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them, 2012.

An amusing exploration of an incident at sea that leads the author to explore the mechanics of global manufacturing and trade, as well as ocean currents and environmental science. (416 pages)

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump, 2017.

An updated edition of Stiglitz’s best-selling 2002 book that adds a hundred pages on globalization in the wake of Brexit and the election of President Donald J. Trump to a thoughtful discussion of how the choices of international organizations and the governments of wealthy countries have often harmed developing countries. (528 pages)

Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, 2019.

An extraordinarily accessible introduction to basic economic concepts that uses lively stories to illustrate ideas and is perfect for someone with little to no background in economics. (384 pages)


Max Galka, “Map of World Imports/Exports,” Metrocosm, December 14, 2016.

An excellent visualization that uses 2015 trade data with a few simplifications to show which countries trade with each other and in what amount.

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