The great economist John Maynard Keynes once observed that people who think themselves practical and realistic are often slaves of “some defunct economist.” One long-dead economist who is poised to become very defunct is old David Ricardo. His free trade views have dominated thinking on international trade for decades. But the tide is beginning to turn among economists, as some highly respected academic economists move away from their doctrinaire position that all free trade is always good everywhere and begin to acknowledge that free trade and large trade deficits have inflicted substantial harm to the US economy.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Industrial espionage has been going on for centuries, but experts agree China’s espionage campaign is on a different scale from anything we’ve seen in history. It has been going on at least since the 1990s and there is no sign it is letting up. Targets include an incredibly broad range of US companies, embracing civilian as well as military technology, with a special focus on the telecom and Internet sector. In 2009, National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander called Chinese IP theft “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” He put the value of cyber-theft of US trade secrets and intellectual property (IP) at a stunning $250 billion a year and called it “our future disappearing in front of us.”
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
President Trump has just made what could be the biggest gamble of his presidency: he’s betting that he can make a significant difference in the US economy by taking action against Chinese mercantilism. As usual, the hordes of commentators in the liberal media, conservative establishment, and the economics profession have misunderstood his goals and objectives.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The productivity figures for the US economy in 2017, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last month, show the US economy continuing to underperform on productivity growth, one of the most important metrics for the long-term health of the economy. The labor productivity of our non-farm business economy rose just 1.2% in 2017, a pathetically low figure considering GDP growth last year was respectable, and should have put a tailwind behind productivity growth. Yet the productivity performance for 2016 was even worse. In that year, productivity actually fell by 0.1%. Over the five years 2013-2017, labor productivity growth averaged just 0.76% a year.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
In a highly polarized nation, Facebook has accomplished the amazing achievement of getting itself intensely disliked by both right and left. The right detests it because its newsfeed has demonstrated a distinctly progressive bias, reflecting the worldview of the majority of its 25,000 youthful employees, while the left resents it because it is seen as the prime social media tool by which the Russians attempted to influence American voters to favor Trump.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Later this month, President Trump faces one of the biggest trade decisions of his presidency. By Jan. 26th, the president must decide whether to levy duties on solar cell and module imports, and what level those duties should be. The International Trade Commission (ITC) found in September that the industry has suffered injury from imports from China and elsewhere, and unanimously recommended that duties should be levied. The two complainants, struggling solar manufacturing companies Suniva and SolarWorld, have each said the recommended duties are not high enough to save the manufacturing industry, while the solar installers’ trade association, the SEIA, has loudly protested that duties could have a negative impact on industry growth.