Four good articles appeared this week on global trade and the presidential campaign. The following points were made:
Trade isn’t the main force destroying good jobs. But it serves as a good target (New York Times editorial).
Manufacturing jobs have increased significantly since 1972. It’s just a different mix. The numbers of workers needed have declined. Policy should focus on training and support of workers. (Washington Post)
Trump gets it wrong. Trade is a winner for Americans. Focusing on exports alone is misleading. (Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Robert Zoellick).
Unlike global markets no self-organizing force is at work in geopolitics. (Wall Street Journal by Richard Haas).
My take. Trade is an easy drive-by-target for widespread popular discontent. Trump’s blaming of the World Trade Organization and trade agreements is wrong. The same can be said for Hilary Clinton to a certain extent.
The underlying factors creating a ‘rage against trade’ are technology and global trends. These are not reversible. Better government policies of investing in infrastructure and better corporate policies of reinvesting their massive capital accumulation, often tax free overseas, into the U.S. economy are required. Political isolationism and protectionism are real threats in the U.S. and globally.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations should have been focusing on making reinvestment possible as well as adopting serious trade adjustment programs. This is required for our economic and political well being, both domestically and globally. A sound trade policy is essential to our national security.
Too bad there was no presidential leadership for these domestic economic policies and a totally ineffectual Congress. Hopefully, the present presidential candidates have time to sing a different tune. Not very likely. But stay tuned.
“The Rage Against Trade.” Lead Editorial, NEW YORK TIMES (August 7, 2016).
“What Republicans and Democrats Get Wrong About Manufacturing.” WASHINGTON POST (August 7, 2016).
“Trump Gets it Wrong: Trade Is a Winner for Americans.” Robert Zoellick, WALL STREET JOURNAL (August 8, 2016).
“The Isolationist Temptation.” Richard Hass, WALL STREET JOURNAL (August 7, 2016).