Posts tagged trade
Marco Rubio Wants a National Innovation Strategy

new report on China from the Senate Small Business Committee, now chaired by Senator Marco Rubio, is turning heads in the conservative policy world. The report details the “Made in China 2025” initiative, China’s national plan for technological and economic supremacy in a number of emerging industries. But what makes the report interesting, particularly from a Republican-chaired committee, is its suggestion that America shouldn’t merely punish China for unfair trade practices, but also should pursue a national innovation strategy of similar ambition.

“This report’s central conclusion is that the U.S. cannot escape or avoid decisions about industrial policy,” its authors write, after opening with an extended quotation from Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures.” Then it explicitly rebukes the orthodox libertarian view that markets are “neutral” when government simply gets of the way:

States place great value on capturing high-productivity, high-labor content industries, or developing new ones. This is no new insight, for constraining the excessive possibilities of this behavior is arguably the orienting view of the World Trade Organization (WTO). States can attempt to redirect this fundamental interest by agreeing to “not select” industries, or at least not do so outside the bounds of reasonable policy difference. But even here, distinctions between competing decisions of economic value must be made.

Markets are always and everywhere structured by rules and institutions, the parameters of which shape final outcomes for society at large. That these rules should align with national priorities like strong families and decent wages for average people might seem obvious, but alas, too often it’s not…

Read the rest at NationalReview.com

The Cost of Trade With China

The economist Dani Rodrik likes to tell the story of the time he sent a draft of his 1997 book, Has Globalization Gone Too Far?, to a “well known and outspoken economist” for review:

He told me he had no quarrel with my economics, but that I should not be “providing ammunition to the barbarians”—that is, I should not give comfort to all those protectionists who stand ready to hijack any argument that seems to provide intellectual respectability to their positions.`

The economist in question was Paul Krugman, as Rodrik quietly revealed in the footnotes of a later book. The irony, of course, is that Krugman went on to coin the sarcastic epithet “Very Serious People” to describe precisely this tendency of elites to argue in bad faith. Deficits and inflation aren’t always bad, for example, but Very Serious People resist deviating from hawkish views lest spendthrift politicians run free. The late-1990s Krugman was evidently himself a Very Serious Person who understood economic globalization to be, while not costless, far too important to risk confusing the public with subtlety.

Maybe Krugman had a point. Rodrik’s book was published only a few years after the deadly, NAFTA-inspired peasant rebellion in south west Mexico, and a few years before the hysterical WTO protests in Seattle. And today, animus against globalization and free trade has found its way into the Oval Office, where at various points NAFTA and the World Trade Organization have come close to being smashed in much the same way Seattle black bloc rioters smashed Starbucks windows in 1999…

Read the rest at TheBulwark.com

What Tucker Carlson Gets Right

The Fox News host Tucker Carlson delivered a monologue on the market and the family last week. It quickly found a large audience, becoming a viral sensation online. It also attracted a host of critics from across the political spectrum. Some of the fiercest criticism came from conservatives, including writers such as Ben Shapiro and David French, who attacked the very argument that we believe Carlson largely got right: Contemporary capitalism, small government conservatism, and elite negligence have all played a role in the fall of the working-class family.

Let’s review the three key points Carlson made regarding the erosion of marriage and family life in America. First, he argued that “increasingly, marriage is a luxury only the affluent in America can afford.” French, a senior writer for National Review, objected to the idea that only the rich can marry, arguing that “affluence is not a prerequisite for marriage.”

But Carlson is onto something. A half century ago, there were not big differences in marriage and family life by class; the vast majority of Americans got and stayed married. Starting in the late ’60s, however, marriage eroded among the poor, and since the ’80s, it has lost considerable ground among the working class. Today, only minorities of poor adults (26 percent) and working-class adults (39 percent) ages 18 to 55 are married; by contrast, a majority (56 percent) of middle- and upper-class Americans age 18 to 55 are married. …

Read the rest at TheAtlantic.com