Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Quick Hits (UPDATED)

Here's some light beach reading for your hopefully-sunny Memorial Day weekend:
  • Friday Night News Dump, Holiday Weekend Edition: Treasury once again declines to cite China as a "currency manipulator."  Key line from the new report: "Because inflation in China is higher than it is in the United States, the RMB has been appreciating more rapidly against the dollar on a real, inflation adjusted basis, at a rate of around 9 percent per year."
  • Cato's Sallie James explains perhaps the biggest reason why free traders should loudly object to the Obama administration's new demand that the price for its submission of pending FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama is expanded Trade Adjustment Assistance.  Key line: "What we have here is a reversal of the grand bargain on trade liberalization, that gave extra welfare to workers who lost their job because of freer trade in exchange for support for trade agreements that lowered trade barriers. That ‘grand bargain’ has been tenuous for years now, of course — witness the complete lack of movement on the trade agreements even after the 2009 enhancement of TAA, at least until recent months.  But now, rather than using TAA to buy votes for trade liberalization, the administration and their allies appear to using pretty-much-assured votes for trade liberalization to buy TAA.  As a Wall Street Journal editorial said on Friday, it’s extortion."  I have a little more on this issue in my comments to this post (and, yes, I stole "grand bargain" from Sallie).
  • Frank Stephenson notices that "Peter Morici, Lou Dobbs's favorite China bashing economist and an advocate of taxing China to 'bring back US jobs,' has become a pitchman for Kyocera copiers.  And guess where Kyocera copiers are made?  The company has one plant in China and two in Japan."  Am I the only one who's totally unsurprised by this?
  • Microsoft's Steve Ballmer denounces "rampant" Chinese software piracy... IN CHINA.  The Middle Kingdom's IPR enforcement problems certainly aren't new, but I can't recall a major CEO so openly discussing them on Chinese soil, can you?  Interesting stuff.
  • Although I tend to focus on import benefits here, this great new IBD editorial reminds that exports are pretty great too, and our FTAs certainly help increase them.
  • Cato's Dan Ikenson takes the Washington Post's Andrew Higgins to the woodshed for missing the real story behind the US antidumping order on wooden bedroom furniture from China.  Money quote: "At the time this case was initiated, the same U.S. furniture producers who were petitioning for relief from imports from China were investing in furniture operations in other countries. There’s nothing illegal or objectionable about investing in foreign production, but the assertions of the petitioning U.S. producers that their aim was to restore U.S. production and U.S. jobs were clearly false. It is testament to the laughably modest standards for finding a domestic industry injured by reason of dumped imports that duties were ever imposed in the furniture case."
  • GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty signals a willingness to support reform of America's awful ethanol policies... IN IOWA.  Given the location, this does qualify as somewhat brave.  But, as Brian McGraw explains, let's not go giving Pawlenty the Congressional Medal of Honor just yet. [UPDATE: Meanwhile, Mitt Romney loooooves him some cornfuel.]
  • The Kauffman Institute surveys top economics bloggers about US federal government policies, and guess what got the most support?  (Shocking, I know)

Have a great, long weekend, and remember: apply sunscreen 30 minutes before laying out.  It needs time to soak in!

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