Steel is at once a myth and a mystique, the symbol of power and prosperity. The nation sees itself in its steel industry, whose interests are confounded with the national interest. For industrialized or industrializing countries of the world, steel is more than an industry; it is a state of mind. The metaphorical content of the word in linguistic usage has direct application in a political context. In spite of the notion that steel is somehow a special case, deserving of special government support and protection from international trade, a critical review of the role of steel in the economy and in overall economic welfare casts doubt on the ability of trade restrictions to improve a country's economic welfare. In addition to infant industry considerations, the vulnerability of the steel industry to cyclical downturns has provided an additional argument for trade protection. Throughout the years, steel markets have proven to be particularly sensitive to business cycles.