What is the laissez-faire approach to economics?

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Laissez faire is the economic policy by which the government refrains from regulating the economy as much as possible.

“Laissez faire” is a French phrase that is typically translated to mean “allow to do.”  A government following this policy allows businesses to do more or less whatever they want.  In historical terms, this policy was followed relatively closely in the United States in the late 1800s.  During this time, firms were allowed to compete with each other in more or less any way they wanted.  This lasted until the Progressive Era when the US government started to enact more regulations in such areas as worker protection and anti-trust.

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