Tag: free trade

Were the Mercantilists Right After All?

 
An imaginary seaport with a transposed Villa Medici, painted by Claude Lorrain around 1637, at the height of mercantilism.

I have found my views on free trade “evolving” over the past year or so. The Red Fish of 2010 or so would have happily provided a lengthy dissertation on the benefits of NAFTA and free trade to any group who wanted to listen. Or didn’t want to listen. 2010 Red Fish was like that.

I read this morning over at The Federalist an interesting piece detailing the way many Republican Party candidates no longer support free trade. Why is a base that went ballistic a year ago over the attempt to force the Ex-Im Bank back into existence now ready to back candidates who don’t support free trade? And more importantly (to me), why am I starting to agree with them? It’s 2016 now, and Blue Fish is starting to make sense to me.

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China is Going to Get Wealthier: That’s a Good Thing

 

File:Chinese flag (Beijing) - IMG 1104.jpgChina may be having a hiccup in the economic rise it has been experiencing over the past decades. But should China wind up as comparable in economic status to the United States, it might be a good thing all around.

China has had it rough economically for a long time. It was defeated in the two Opium Wars with Great Britain and split between the Spheres of Influence of the Great Powers. The disastrous Taiping Rebellion further disgraced the Qing Empire in the Victorian Era. It was immediately followed by China’s humiliating loss of Korea to the Japanese Empire in the First Sino-Japanese War. This led to the collapse of the Qing Empire, the creation of a republic, and the outbreak of civil war between forces loyal to the Kuomintang-led government and forces loyal to the Communist Party of China. Meanwhile, decades-long Japanese imperial policies matured, prompting Japan to instigate the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and hastening the onset of World War II. The Communists won the Civil War and Mao Zedong came to power, a series of catastrophes in itself.

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Back-to-School Trade Quiz

 

Quiz Trade Cardss1. I am a trade protectionist because:

a. I don’t think people in this country should be able to get cheaper and/or better stuff from overseas. Consumers have too much stuff. Other people here who take cheaper and/or better stuff from overseas and build it into products which they then sell here and overseas are making things way too complicated.

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Donald Trump: A 21st Century Protectionist Herbert Hoover

 

Hoover-TrumpHere’s a historical fact that Donald Trump, and many voters attracted to him, may not know: The last American president who was a trade protectionist was Republican Herbert Hoover. Obviously that economic strategy didn’t turn out so well — either for the nation or the GOP.

Does Trump aspire to be a 21st century Hoover with a modernized platform of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff that helped send the U.S. and world economy into a decade-long depression and a collapse of the banking system?

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GMOs and Free Trade

 

shutterstock_295120262In the last quarter of the 20th century, scientists developed techniques for selecting traits at the individual gene level, giving rise to genetically modified (GM) crops. In the many years since, GM crops have become a prevalent part of American agriculture. According to the USDA, in 2013, 93% of all soybeans, 90% of all feed corn, and 90% of all cotton came from GM crops. But the speed at which they have entered the marketplace has scared many who believe they haven’t been tested enough. But don’t the benefits of GM crops outweigh the perceived harms?

First, GM crops are necessary to ensure that there’s enough food to go around. The latest Food and Agriculture Organization estimates find that 805 million people were chronically undernourished in 2012–14. With the earth’s population predicted to grow to over 8 billion people by 2025, those pressures won’t get any less dramatic.

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The Libertarian Podcast: The Fight Over Free Trade

 

In this week’s episode of The Libertarian podcast from the Hoover Institution, I lead our own Richard Epstein through a discussion of the many controversies birthed by the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Do trade deals put the screws to American workers? Is the quest for fast-track authority another example of presidential overreach? Should the public be worried about the secrecy around the TPP? Does this deal present threats to American sovereignty? All those topics and more will be addressed when you listen to the show below or subscribe to The Libertarian via iTunes.

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The Game Theory Argument for Fast-Track Trade Authority

 

While public debate rages over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the real issue before Congress right now is merely whether or not President Obama should be granted fast-track authority, which allows him to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the United States and then present it to the Congress for a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed. As I note in my new piece for Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution, there’s a very strong game theory rationale for giving the president this ability:

… [F]ast-track is a good solution to a complex two-stage bargaining game. At stage one, the President and his trading partners are well aware of the prospect that the Congress could turn down a trade treaty if it is perceived, no questions asked, to put the United States in a worse position. So Congress will agree to a treaty that is better than the status quo ante for the U.S., but not so one-sided that it will drive our potential trading partners away. Hence, a stage one agreement will leave everyone better off.

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It’s Time for Conservatives to Defend… President Obama

 

Obama.Shocked-1For six years, conservatives have been hammering the Obama administration. While the lay observer may decry this seemingly out-of-the-ordinary level of partisanship of late, it must be acknowledged that President Obama himself is arguably the most left-of-center person to hold the office since FDR. This president has pushed, with varying levels of success, some of the most liberal/progressive policies ever to be championed by someone people take seriously. This leaves conservatives with little to actually chew on and weigh supporting for any significant period of time. That all being said… well… we all know the saying about a broken clock.

And that clock currently says it is time for conservatives to come to the defense of President Obama.

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People Are Not Goods: A Response to Nick Gillespie

 

I’m an unabashed fan of Reason’s Nick Gillespie, but that doesn’t mean he’s always right. In a video released earlier today, he bats exactly .500, making an extremely persuasive case in favor of open trade… and a deeply flawed one regarding open immigration. Take a look for yourself:

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The Fed’s Failed — And That’s a Good Thing

 

shutterstock_236267482Don’t expect any miracles from the economy. But don’t expect a collapse either.

In political terms, it’s kind of a Mexican standoff. Team Obama says they saved us from another Great Depression. And they point out that 3.1 million jobs have been created in the last 12 months. Republicans counter that this is the slowest post-WWII recovery on record and that real GDP is roughly $2 trillion below potential. They add that the labor-force participation rate is 62.7 percent, a 39-year low, and that there are at least 15 million people who work but can’t get jobs.

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There’s No Good Conservative Case Against Fast-Track Trade Authority

 

shutterstock_142905070 (1)The Senate Finance Committee is taking up the topic of “fast track” trade authority today, which would empower President Obama to negotiate trade deals, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ambitious free-trade area that would cover most of our Asian trading partners (except China) and rival the European Union in size. Some conservatives, however, are resisting the proposal, claiming that it only further consolidates power in an already out-of-control executive. While I’ve been a staunch critic of President Obama’s executive overreach, I don’t think that argument holds up here. As I write at National Review:

…Critics are missing the mark by confusing fast track with Obama’s executive power grabs. Fast track does not delegate any power to the executive branch. Under fast track, the president does not exercise any new authority that he lacked before. Under normal constitutional practice, the president negotiates an international agreement and then submits it to Congress for approval. Fast-track doesn’t change that fundamental order. President Obama can negotiate any agreement he likes, and Congress is free to vote it up or down.

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Is Obama’s Quest for Trade Promotion Authority One More Example of Executive Overreach?

 

Some conservatives may worry that supporting President Obama’s bid for trade promotion authority undermines their criticism of his abuses of the Constitution’s executive power, an angle that was highlighted in a Washington Post story by David Nakamura earlier this week. We needn’t fret about these claimed contradictions, however — they are product of intellectually lazy or sloppy journalists who don’t understand the Constitution’s separation of powers in the first place.

The most important difference between trade promotion authority — informally known as “fast-track” among the trade cognoscenti — and Obama’s unilateral orders on immigration, drugs, healthcare, welfare (take your pick) is that Congress has authorized the former. With trade authority, Congress delegates authority to the President to negotiate the best deal possible with our foreign partners, but he has no opportunity to put the agreement into effect himself. Congress still has an up-or-down vote on the trade deal.

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Member Post

 

US Constitution – Article 1, Section. 10. “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be […]

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