The Battle Over Barriers

Reagan holds fast while Congress pushes hard for protectionism

How many Japanese yen will it take to buy a U.S. dollar? What kind of insurance is going to be sold in South Korea? How many trees will be felled in Canadian forests, and how many pairs of shoes shipped out of Italy or Brazil?

Such questions are usually the arcana of traders and government specialists. But now they are at the center of the hottest, and most complicated, political fight of the year. The arguments, though often phrased in economic jargon, involve gut issues: prices and jobs. The battle has been joined not only by Washington and Wall Street but...

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