The NYT had an article profiling Christopher Liddell, who is currently the Trump administration's director of strategic initiatives and is apparently a top candidate to replace Gary Cohn as head of the National Economic Council. In recounting his career, the piece notes that Liddell had been the chief financial officer at Microsoft.
The piece later presents a comment on trade from Liddell:
“I think the days of unbridled free trade and unbridled free markets are over.”
“I worked in the private sector all my life, so I’m a believer in free markets, but not unbridled free markets [...]And we’ve had 30 years since the mid-’80s, both in New Zealand and here in the U.S. and globally, of basically free markets being driving the whole thinking, the whole rhetoric around governing. I think those days are over, personally. I think we’re going to go through a circular trend of a much more restrained free market.”
Of course, we have not had free markets, as the government has actively structured markets in a variety of ways. In particular, Microsoft, the company at which Mr. Liddell served as Chief Financial Officer, benefited enormously from government-granted patent and copyright monopolies. These forms of protection are equivalent to tariffs of many thousand percent, raising the price of protected items by a factors of ten or even a hundred or more.
It is ironic that someone who had benefited so much from government intervention would somehow claim that this is a free market.