Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Quick Hits

Lots of interesting reading over the last few days, so let's spare the pleasantries:
  • If you want to know how China's efforts to control the nominal RMB-USD exchange rate lead to serious inflation (and thus an increase in the real exchange rate) read this.  (And then ask yourself this: "Hmm, is this really indicative of a sound economy that will inevitably overtake the United States in the very near future?")  AEI's John Makin has more good data on China's inflation problem here, although I think his solution is a tad simplistic.
  • In a great NYT op-ed Harvard's Mark Wu provides three indisputable reasons why China's currency policies aren't the problem for the United States that many, like Sen. Chuck Schumer, breathlessly claim.  My favorite part: "I recently did an analysis of the top American exports to our 20 leading foreign markets, and found little evidence that an undervalued Chinese currency hurts American exports to third countries. This is mostly because there is little head-to-head competition between America and China. In less than 15 percent of top export products — for example, network routers and solar panels — are American and Chinese corporations competing directly against one another. By and large, we are going after entirely different product markets; we market things like airplanes and pharmaceuticals while China sells electronics and textiles."  Cato's Dan Griswold also pens a nice summary on the same issue, and NRO's Rich Lowry broadens the view a little.  [UPDATE: Fresh from's indispensable trade headlines comes a new CNN report on a debate between Fred Bergsten and Jim Chanos on whether the yuan is undervalued or overvalued.]
  • HotAir's Jazz Shaw provides an excellent example in the Ecuador-Chevron kerfuffle of why trade agreements' investor-state protections - such as the mandatory resort to third-party dispute settlement - aren't (as many misguided trade critics claim) pernicious and instead encourage foreign investment (and thus economic growth and, of course, jobs).
  • At the request of the Chinese government, "China's five largest banks have pledged to lend more to government-subsidized housing projects in 2011."  What could go wrong?  Oh, right, that.
  • Green trade disputes are suddenly a hot topic!  First, Sen. McCain tells Brazilians that US ethanol policies are ripe for a WTO challenge.  Then, Reuters wonders if a "solar trade war" is on the horizon because so many governments are subsidizing the heck out of their solar industries.  Finally, former WTO Appellate Body chair James Bacchus proposes that the US and China negotiate a pre-emptive ceasefire on gree trade disputes in order to avoid a serious conflagration.  If only someone had been warning us about all of these problems for, oh I don't know, the past 20 months or so.  If only....
  • The Economist provides our super-cool graphic of the day, which shows that the key to cleaner energy consumption is economic development, not top-down government control.  Shocking, I know:
  • The Seattle Times' Bruce Ramsey provides an excellent Korean history lesson which shows that Korean opposition to KORUS and other FTAs is pretty silly.
  • Doug Holtz-Eakin, James Capretta and Joseph Antos write a must-read op-ed systematically debunking the liberal/Democrat talking point that repeal of ObamaCare will increase the US budget deficit.
  • Finally, this is hilarious, and so is this.

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