Raymond Richman - Jesse Richman - Howard Richman
Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog
Boeckh Nails It, but Opposes the Solution
J. Anthony Boeckh nailed it (Increasing Risks). The world economy is heading downhill because of the failure to rebalance trade. His graphs clarify. His investment recommendations seem sound. If his 2010 book is as perceptive (The Great Reflation) then it is well worth buying. Here is his summary of how mercantilism is sapping U.S. growth at the moment:
Boeckh fears that U.S. policy makers choose his "third option":...
Reducing the Trade Deficits Is Essential for Economic Recovery
There was bad news on Friday, August 27, with the release of updated figures for economic output in the second quarter of 2010. The Bureau of Economic Analysis correctly presented the data. It reported:
No one. journalist or economist or government official mentioned the sharp acceleration in imports to which the BEA refers and which appears in the first paragraph of the BEA report. The fact appears to be that our leaders, our political and academic elite, are so committed to “free trade” that everyone is afraid to call attention to the disaster in the making, to the deficits that are de-industrializing the U.S. and have cost millions of good-paying jobs.
The reader may be unaware, because it is mentioned so rarely, that exports and imports are part of the Gross Domestic Product. The formula is...
The Housing Bust Redux
When housing numbers were released on Tuesday and Wednesday for July, the picture they painted of the housing market was pretty bleak. Sales volume tanked, inventory increased. The only surprising aspect of the associated news stories was that they noted economists had predicted substantially smaller declines. If we believe that long-run housing prices are shaped by supply (houses on the market) and demand (income and population growth), the recent drop should come as no surprise.
During the housing bubble demand for housing soared, fueled by unrealistic expectations of continued hyper-growth-stock returns from a traditionally stodgy investment that in the long term keeps up with inflation and little more. Now consumers have learned...
Scott Paul: The Onshoring Trend is Phony
Writing in the Huffington Post on August 20 (The Onshoring Trend is Phony), Scott Paul pointed out:
On Friday August 6th, no less an authority than the president himself heralded a USA Today front page story headlined: "Some manufacturing heads back to USA." I watched CNBC that morning -- the July unemployment figures were just out -- and its anchors also trumpeted the news. So did the House Democratic leadership, which viewed the headline as a positive development and vindication of its recent focus on manufacturing. I don't blame any of these folks for trying to squeeze the good news out of an otherwise horrible day of economic news, but it turns out that exactly the opposite is happening,
Economists Don't Know How to Recover From the Recession
In an Op-ed in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on 8-17-2010 (Obama's Reverse Progres), Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies of the American Enterprise Institute and senior economic adviser to Sen. George McCain in the latter’s 2008 election campaign, brings into question whether a Republican majority in the Congress would do any better than Pres. Obama in dealing with this recession. He demonstrates the bankruptcy of economists of both parties in dealing with the recession. He asserts that Pres. Obama’s “massive intervention” to rescue General Motors and Chrysler is anachronistic. Manufacturing is, in his view, “no more valuable than other types of output.” He writes: “Manufacturing has been on a decline as a share of national output for decades, part of the evolution of the U.S. economy.” His notion that a decline of U.S. manufacturing as a share of GDP is “normal” and to be expected is almost universally held among economists. But the rapid rate of decline of manufacturing during recent decades is not normal at all. It is a result of mercantilist practices of some of our trading partners and the failure of Democratic and Republican administrations to pursue policies that would bring our international trade in goods and services into balance.
As Hassett notes, “Manufacturing as a share of U.S. gross domestic product has fallen from about 28 percent in 1950 to about 11 percent in 2009.” But as a share of U.S. household consumption, it has not fallen at all as the following table shows:...
In the August 22 American Thinker, Greg Richards (Conviction Conservatives and the American Renaissance) argues that conservatives must reexamine America's trade policy. Here is a selection:
In economics, we have to reassess one of the most firmly held views in academic economics, and that is the value of free trade -- or perhaps not free trade per se, but trade as we find it. Going back to the 1970s, Japan was successful with its export-led growth model, which was a mercantilist model. Yes, it is true that this model means that the mercantilist country is offering us cheap goods in return for "only" our paper....
Barr McClellan: "Malaise has returned"
In an article in the August 22 Foreign Policy Journal (Open Trade Season: Ten Steps for Job Creation), Barr McClellan advocates balanced trade as the way to restore U.S. economic growth. McClellan is the former personal lawyer of LBJ and the co-author of Made in the USA: Corporate Greed, Tax Laws and the Exportation of America's Future. Here is his realistic assessment of where the economy is right now:
The impact of so-called free trade and its huge imbalances has been in business and jobs. After two years of grants and incentives, the economy is dead, there are no jobs, unemployment is over 9% and malaise has returned.
He advocates a ten step program to bring more jobs to the United States. Tariffs only figure in one of his steps:...
Paul Craig Roberts: Balance Trade and Budgets Now or Dollar Crash Soon
Paul Craig Roberts, head of policy at the Department of Treasury under Reagan, predicted an upcoming dollar crash in an August 16 commentary (The Ecstacy of Empire). He began: "The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control." He goes on to describe the upcoming dollar crash if this is not done:
Part of Roberts' solution is to bring U.S. troops home now. The other part is to switch our tax system to a value-added tax which has two tax rates, depending upon where the value is added. If the value is added abroad, the rate is higher. He wrote:...
Krugman: "We're in a world in which mercantilism works"
The New York Times had an August 15 editorial (Return of the Killer Trade Deficits) which parallels the commentary that my father, son and I wrote for the August 16 American Thinker. The Times looked at the U.S. June trade numbers released last week and noted that the exploding U.S. trade deficits are an alarming trend. While we were concerned with the ramifications upon the American economy, the Times was only concerned with the effect upon the world economy. Here is a selection from their editorial:
The Times is pretending that the U.S. problem is also the world's problem. What nonsense! A U.S. trade deficit is a one sided problem. Our trade deficits hurt us. The resulting trade surpluses in Europe and China help them. The Times advocates more of what the Obama administration has already been doing -- talk, talk, and more talk -- while they oppose anything that would work. Here is what they say about tariffs:...
Obama Fiddles while Economy Falters - We're published in the American Thinker this morning
Here's how we begin:
The Economic Times of India called the latest U.S. trade data, released August 11, a "grim set of trade figures." In June, the U.S. trade deficit rose by $7.9 billion or 19 percent to $49.9 billion. Meanwhile growth of the U.S. economy was faltering from 3.7% during the first quarter to 2.4% during the second. The two are related. The rising trade deficits have been causing demand to leak abroad out of the American economy, causing growth to slow. The graph below shows the monthly trade deficit since President Obama took office:
Dan Drezner gives Obama an "F" for his trade agenda
We are not the only ones disappointed with the Obama administration's trade policy. Writing at ForeignPolicy.com, Daniel Drezner (How I would grade Obama's Foreign Policy to Date) gives Obama an "F" on trade, writing:
He separates balancing global demand from trade policy, though they are really the same thing, and gives Obama a "D" for that, though I don't see the reason for such a high grade:
U.S. Growth Slows Due to Trade Deficit -- we were published in the American Thinker this morning
Here's how we begin:
We then discuss the Obama administration's mistakes and present our Scaled Tariff plan. We conclude:
Cato Institute's Richard W. Rahn only sees 2 alternatives for reviving economy
In his August 3 commentary about the latest GDP figures in the Washington Times (Evidence and Denial) Richard W. Rahn was quite accurate about the economic dreamworld that the Democrats are living in. He writes:
Last Friday, it was reported that economic growth was only 2.4 percent in the second quarter of this year - far below what the Obama administration had forecast. Yet the administration and its supporters continue to be in denial about the fact that their policies are not working. Psychologists refer to the refusal to change one's mind when confronted with contrary evidence as cognitive dissonance.
But he misses the fact that the Republican establishment is living in a dreamworld also If he were to look closely at the second quarter numbers, he would have discovered that the rising trade deficits caused GDP to fall. Obama’s failure to deal the trade deficits is sinking his presidency....
We are in the persistent depression predicted by Keynes
U. of Maryland economist Peter Morici's analysis of Friday's 2nd Quarter GDP report is just about identical to mine. He calculates that demand for American products only grew by 1.3% in the second quarter, while I calculate 1.4%. He calculates that the trade deficit sapped 2.8% from growth, while I calculate 2.7%. According to both of us, the trade deficit is causing the economic recovery to stall.
Morici is more precise than me in his predictions. He expects a double-dip recession starting in November. He writes:
Unless spending picks up (and indicators are that is not happening), once businesses stop piling up unsold goods, layoffs will outnumber hires, unemployment will rise with a vengeance, and the economy will head into a second dip. That will not likely happen until after the election. It will show up in fourth-quarter data.
Neither Morici nor I deserve all that much credit. We are simply reading the current statistics in order to determine what is happening today. John Maynard Keynes predicted this persistent depression back in 1936 in the chapter about mercantilism and its victims from his book The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, writing:...
Journal of Economic Literature:
Atlantic Economic Journal: