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The expropriation of land and other assets without compensation by governments is not a new practice. It has been done before, not merely in the distant past but in the very recent past. The consequences are sobering and should lead policymakers to reconsider what may seem politically expedient in the short term, but offers catastrophe not only for the expropriated but for the expropriators as well.

This is an especially critical time to consider such moves very carefully. As the Covid-19 pandemic threatens global food supplies the last thing policymakers should undertake are moves that, when tried before, have collapsed agricultural production and led to hunger, famine and mass starvation. The most powerful contemporary example is Venezuela, where the disastrous consequences are unfolding before our eyes. But the policies of expropriation have had the same or worse consequences on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. ..

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