Tag: International Trade

“There Are A Hundred Things Like That”


shutterstock_283689917Now’s a perfect time to return to Donald Trump’s kick-off speech, wherein lies an extended passage that puts the lie to the notions that Trump is incoherent and short on specific policy proposals. This digression — presumably delivered with benefit of neither notes nor teleprompter — is a hypothetical scenario describing how President Trump would handle Ford’s announcement that it plans to build a new car factory in Mexico.

Savor the gorgeous prose that wafts from the Trumpian tongue. Marvel at his recognition that a U.S. president has dictatorial powers. Admire his willingness to be vindictive when defied. Drink in the policy mastery and wisdom demonstrated by the leading GOP candidate.

Now Ford announces a few weeks ago that Ford is going to build a $2.5 billion car and truck and parts manufacturing plant in Mexico. $2.5 billion. It’s going to be one of the largest in the world. Ford – good company.

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.

A Conservative’s Guide To Keystone XL


Conservatives need to get their facts straight if they want to win the argument on Keystone XL. In order to do that, you need to understand that there are different types of crude oils that are not all the same physically or chemically. Next, you need to know that not all crude oil refineries are alike or have the same product slates. Then, you need to understand logistics. After that, you can consider sources and stability.

Canada has increased its production of crude oil. It’s not just strip-mined oil sands being converted to synthetic crude oil: the increase in production in Canada comes from very heavy crude oils—think of a can of Kiwi shoe polish at room temperature—being pumped out of the ground. This type of crude oil is high in asphaltenes. Here in the U.S. we have very little of this type of crude oil, though there are some commercially viable deposits in Bakersfield, California and Railroad Valley, Nevada. Outside of Canada, the closest source of this type of crude oil is Venezuela. The API gravity of this oil is between 8 and 12, making it Very Heavy Crude Oil; not just heavy, but very heavy. It won’t even flow unless its temperature is above 130 Fahrenheit (54 celsius).

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.