Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Quick Hits

Lots of interesting stuff over the last two weeks, so let's get right to it:
  • FedGov economists: Increasing exports won't increase US manufacturing jobs.  Three economists from the US International Trade Commission write, "While export promotion is often seen as a strategy of increasing manufacturing employment, in the past decade US employment growth has all been in the services sectors. Even though manufacturing is important in itself, the promotion of US exports is likely to generate more indirect jobs in wholesaling, transport, and professional services than direct jobs in manufacturing."  Of course, you already knew this because you read my post on the issue last November(!).
  • On the bright side, lousy US trade policy can't hold back global trade.  From The Economist: "Trade has not been devastated by the raft of protectionist actions taken during the downturn. According to the World Bank, the rise in tariffs and anti-dumping duties explains less than one-fiftieth of the collapse in world trade during the recession. For the most part, the fall in trade reflected a drop in demand." Even better, early evidence suggests that "re-balancing" is occurring: "There is even some evidence that activity has rebalanced from the lopsided trade pattern that existed just before the crisis. Then, the share of emerging-world imports that came from rich countries had been on a steadily declining path. But now demand from emerging economies is helping to prop up rich-world exports to a larger degree than is commonly realised. According to IMF figures, of nine emerging markets in the G20, seven got a higher share of their imports from rich countries in 2009 than they did a year earlier. Just 59% of China’s imports came from rich countries in 2008, but this rose sharply to 66% in 2009. India obtained 42% of its imports from rich countries in 2008, but last year this rose to 47%."  Gee, and we didn't even have to impose self-flagellating 35% tariffs on China to do it! (Paul Krugman was unavailable for comment.)
  • Sen. Lincoln may be going down in flames, but she's gonna subsidize everything on her way out.  Behold, desperation efforts from Arkansas' queen of farm subsidies: "Large-scale farms would disproportionately benefit from a $1.5 billion disaster aid package for which Sen. Blanche Lincoln says she's secured funding, an advocacy group said in a report released Thursday. Lincoln, who is in a tough re-election fight in Arkansas, has said she's received assurances from the White House that the Agriculture Department would fund $1.5 billion administratively for farmers who lost crops in 2009. Democrats agreed to cut the aid from a small business lending bill last week. The Environmental Working Group on Thursday projected that the largest share of the aid — $210 million — could go to Lincoln's home state with 270 farms collecting more than $100,000 each in disaster subsidies."
  • Shocker: BMW outpaces its European rivals by making cars that people actually want.  From the WSJ (subscription): "Making cars people want to buy is a better investment proposition than making cars governments have to bribe people to buy. Just look at BMW, the top-performing European auto stock this year even as rivals received a substantial boost from scrapping incentives. Through design and good fortune, an expectation-beating second quarter could be a harbinger of further outperformance by the German company."
  • Something to remember the next time you hear your congressman/senator badmouthing China and/or pining for a trade war.  The US China Business Council recently released its annual report on US exports to China (helpfully broken down by congressional district).  Their overall conclusions: "'Even with a global recession, American businesses and American workers continue to benefit from expanding opportunities to sell high-value manufactured goods to the China market, the world’s fastest growing economy,' USCBC President John Frisbie said. 'A clear trend that began in 2000 continued in 2009: Exports to China continued to outpace export growth to other global markets,” Frisbie continued. “US exports to China have jumped 330 percent since 2000, compared to 29 percent to the rest of the world.'”
  • Leaked: WTO sides with China in dispute over US barriers to chicken imports.  Per Reuters: "A World Trade Organization panel has ruled in favor of China in its dispute with the United States over an effective U.S. ban on imports of Chinese chicken, a Chinese source said on Tuesday. The WTO issued a ruling in the poultry dispute to the two parties on Monday, but it remains confidential until it is published in a couple of months time. There was no official comment from Chinese or U.S. authorities. Asked whether China had won the case, the source, who is familiar with the ruling, told Reuters: 'You could say that ... It went well.'"

1 comment:

John Sullivan said...

Human social and economic competition know no rules. Whoever wins makes the rules to continue their power. Protectionism is merely competition for private advantage waged through politics (force).

It is easy to be a libertarian when that is the best alternative, but when more power is within one's grasp, the libertarian ideal will no longer suffice.

You see, a stupid person, or stupid people, don't succeed well enough under a libertarian rule of law. Why should they agree to those rules wehn they can't compete? So they combine to steal from their smarter competitors while being given ideological justification from an envious and self righteous intellectual class that derives psychic income from posturing on behalf of the "havenots".

The protectionist mentality fears not only foreign competition, but domestic as well. They will steal from you. They live next door to you too. If you pretend to separate your friendship with these people from their politics, you deserve to be robbed by them.

Economic theory proving free markets produce maximun wealth doesn't matter. No one seeks the benefit of "everyone". Seek maximum advantage for yourself and your contribution will offset that of your economic/political enemies. The "ideal" settlement is spontaneous; a byproduct of our seeking toltalitarian advantage over each other through competition and compromise.

No one is libertarian if they can do better.