Monday, May 09, 2016

Rediscovering Tonelson

We had followed Alan Tonelson's writings a number of years ago, but lost track of him.  Tonelson has concentrated on "real-world" economic indicators--pocketbook stuff--for around 30 years, and is the leading counter-voice to the Establishment's "free-trade" blather.

Thanks to Norm Matloff, we found him again.  And just as before, Tonelson has a few things to say about free trade.

The government’s first estimate of first quarter, 2016 gross domestic product (GDP) showed that the real trade deficit hit its highest level ($566.6 billion) since the first quarter of 2008. As a result, trade cut weak inflation-adjusted first quarter growth of 0.54 percent annualized by 0.34 percentage points – the biggest drag after the drop in gross private fixed investment (0.60 percentage points).

That's something you don't hear from the usual RadioMouths, eh?

...The new first quarter numbers mean that trade has now slowed cumulative growth during this already sluggish U.S. recovery by 9.37 percent – despite the dramatic drop in the country’s oil trade shortfall. The quarter’s real trade deficit was driven mainly by falling real exports. Real goods exports worsened for the third straight quarter,....

...which explains the mass layoffs at Caterpillar and Joy (Harnischfeger)...

...and real services imports rose for the sixth straight quarter and hit their sixth consecutive quarterly record ($486.2 billion)....

...which includes the "data services" and "customer services" work that used to be performed by US workers.  Think Disney and Abbott Labs, e.g.

And then there's his take on TPP, which demonstrates that Obozo is a lawyer (he lies whenever his lips are moving).

...Maybe President Obama believes that repeating even the most laughably off-base contentions endlessly will make them true? Or convincing? It’s hard to look at his new Washington Post op-ed urging passage of his Pacific Rim trade deal and conclude anything else. The article makes clearer than ever that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) makes sense for the United States only if Americans ignore everything known about the agreement itself, about U.S. trade with the eleven other signatories, and about the region’s economics and commerce....

Like it or not, Tonelson's essays illuminate one of the reasons that Trump-ism is regnant:  the "free trade" boys are just as wrong now as when PJBuchanan blew George Bush I out of the water years ago.  Either the FedGov exists to promote the welfare of US citizens, or it exists to promote the welfare of the world's citizens.

Lots of folks think the former is the priority.  The GOPe?  Not so much.

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