Scrapping the ban

WHEN the economics textbooks of the future are written, America’s ban on crude-oil exports will be a fine example of the perverse effects of protectionism. Similarly, a new decision by Barack Obama’s administration to allow American firms to sell some oil to Mexico will earn an honourable footnote in the story of the ban’s demise.

Geology, engineering, economics and politics are all at stake. In the fuel-hungry 1970s, America banned crude-oil exports in an effort to stabilise...

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