Monday, March 20, 2017

Economic Dog Chases Economic Tail, Enter The Donald

Not only is the dog chasing its tail, the damn dog doesn't eat well, either.  So says Tonelson:

...what Hadas and all the rest continue to miss is how the world trade system, national trade policies, and the trade flows they have fostered have actively fostered in deficit countries like the United States a neglect of productive activities like manufacturing (which is so heavily traded).
Specifically, as Washington in the 1990s and 2000s signed more and more trade agreements structured to encourage multinational companies from all over the world to supply U.S. consumers from locations in super low-cost and virtually unregulated developing countries like China and Mexico, American leaders and other elites (e.g., in the media) naturally sought to rationalize their decisions by spreading the message that sectors of the economy like manufacturing (and the income loss produced by the accelerated offshoring that rippled throughout so much of the Main Street economy) could be neglected with impunity. And the administration of George W. Bush (along with Congress of course) and the Federal Reserve chaired by Alan Greenspan underwrote America’s spendthrift ways with big budget deficits and ultra-low interest rates, respectively

Even worse, these destructive trends fed on themselves. The more offshoring seemed to pay off, and the more domestic manufacturing operations looked like losing — or at least anachronistic — propositions, the less interested financiers became in investing in them. So the amount of productive activity on which to use incoming capital to start with began shriveling. And the less productive activity available to sustain Main Street living standards responsibly (i.e., mainly through earnings), the greater the political establishment needed to prop up those living standards by providing more easy money — at least if it wanted to stay in power while maintaining the offshoring status quo.

The remedy, according to Hadas, is MO' REGULATION!!

...Regulation can do more than strengthen bank capital ratios. It can reform the system, so trade surplus funds are not directed to economically counterproductive uses. That will be tough, both politically and practically. But it should be easier – and will be far more helpful – to solidify finance than to try to change the national characters of Germany or Korea.”...(quoted by Tonelson)

The counter?

But this requirement needs to be accompanied by (at the very least) strong measures to keep out foreign-made goods that benefit from predatory trade practices like dumping, subsidization, and intellectual property theft. Otherwise, foreign competitors will be able to keep undercutting their domestic American competition in the U.S. market, and these new productive investments will fail....

And here's where Trump-ism shows up!

...this is in fact where recognition is needed that the trade problem created by American policy concerns not simply inducements to offshore, but the coddling of protectionism in high income countries like Japan and Germany....

Exactly what The Donald has been saying.  We shall see, eh?

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