Archive for the 'Trade' Category

Trade gap widens in March to $40.4 billion

The U.S. trade deficit hit its widest point in more than a year in March, with a jump in imports swamping a rise in exports as the global economy strengthened, a government report showed on Wednesday.

China Appears Set to Make Currency Policy More Flexible

HONG KONG — The Chinese government is preparing to announce in the coming days that it will allow its currency to strengthen slightly and vary more from day to day, a move being taken for domestic policy reasons in China but likely to please the Obama administration, people with knowledge of the emerging consensus in Beijing said on Thursday.


A more market-oriented currency policy in Beijing, with a trend toward a stronger renminbi, could help the American economy in several ways, according to economists. A stronger renminbi would make Chinese goods more expensive in the United States and make American goods cheaper in China, which is currently exporting more than four times as much to the United States as it imports.

California exports continue sharp uptick

California exports continue sharp uptick

Exports through California ports continued their recent rebound in January, according to an analysis of new federal data by University of California trade analyst Jock O’Connell.

The value of exports through the state, $10.3 billion, was an 18.5 percent increase over the previous January and the third month of year-over-year increases. It was nearly identical to the nationwide increase in exports.

.”Even so, we are now just getting back to the level of exporting we were at in early 2007, before the global financial and economic crisis sent international trade spiraling down,” O’Connell said..

O’Connell said he anticipated continued export increases “if only because the economies of most of our major trading partners continue to expand,” but added, “The most worrisome prospect involves the risk of fall-out from the financial turmoil now gripping the European Union and especially those countries in the euro zone.

Imports through California also showed a sharp increase, up 14.6 over the previous January to $23 billion.

Krugman on the Yuan

Paul Krugman explains the Chinese currency manipulation effect.

US Tariff History

tariff_historyFrom Paul Krugman. To me, it puts any trade war talks in perspective.

Why Tariffs Hurt Americans

Professor Mark Perry, University of Michigan, provides us with a great explanation on why our tariffs on China are a bad idea.

Here is the link to Carpe Diem

U.S. Outsourcing is GOOD for Domestic Activity

A popular notion is that when U.S. companies expand abroad, they reduce domestic activity. In other words, when U.S. companies outsource, the U.S. loses jobs. A study just published in the AEA: Economic Policy Journal by Desai, Foley, and Hines Jr. shows the opposite is true. This has significant policy and popular perception implications. From the abstract:

10 percent greater foreign investment is associated with 2.6 percent greater domestic investment, and 10 percent greater foreign employee compensation is associated with 3.7 percent greater domestic employee compensation. These results do not support the popular notion that expansions abroad reduce a firm’s domestic activity, instead suggesting the opposite.

Global Trade War?

The “Buy American” provisions are in the bills passed by the Senate and House today. Will this lead to a global trade war? From the article:

The heated war of words over “Buy American” laws may be nearing a truce in Congress, but there are still fears among critics that it could spark a new global trade war.

The reworked stimulus bill that the House and Senate are due to vote on Friday has language on “Buy American” provisions that provides even tougher requirements to limit materials used in public works projects paid for by stimulus to those made in U.S. factories.

Many major steel producing countries, such as China, Brazil and Russia, will essentially be blocked from selling their products for use in construction and energy projects being paid for under the program.

But because the “Buy American” provision will not trump existing trade agreements, it allows companies in many major trading partners, such as Canada and the European Union, the chance to sell steel, pipes and other products that can be used in the projects.

Most economists fear a trade war and any kind of protectionism. It could set the U.S. and global economy back several decades. This stance is more of a political one which shows voters that politicians are protecting their jobs at home. At what cost though? WE, the consumer, end up paying more for products when there are trade barriers.

Since the “Buy American” provision won’t trump any existing trade agreements, Canada and the EU probably won’t mind. China, Brazil, and Russia will and could retaliate. It is also possible our politicians would use this to sign trade pacts with China, Brazil, and/or Russia. That would be fine if the trade pacts are mutual and neither country feels forced into signing.

The real concern I have is that other countries will copy our “Buy American” stance. They will say “the U.S. is closing their boarders to us so we should retaliate”. After all, Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize Economist) has shown there are cases where protectionism can benefit an economy. We are the biggest consuming nation and may countries depend on exporting their products to us. If we don’t buy, they will be in a world of hurt.


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