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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog

Polls shift toward getting tough with China on trade
Jesse Richman, 10/26/2012

In 2011 and then in 2012 Pew asked whether respondents supported getting tough with China on trade.  The poll shows a substantial shift toward more respondents in favor of getting tough with China on trade.  As reported in, here are the summary results from the recent (October 2012) poll and the earlier one.  Support for getting tougher increased by...


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Will turnout be lower in 2012
Jesse Richman, 10/26/2012

I recently published a piece on The Monkey Cage, a political science blog on the question of whether turnout will be lower in the 2012 election.  Here is how I begin:

This year one of my favorite informal election prediction metrics has been silent: the pizza indicator.  In nearly every election year since 2006 either the college Democrats or the college Republicans post signs by the elevators in the Arts and Letters building inviting students to come to a meeting and offering free pizza.  The Party offering pizza was the one that won the election in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.  (2007 and 2011 were lower turnout state legislative election years with little pizza to be had).  This year neither organization is offering pizza, and there has been precious little paper spent even advertising their meetings.

Pizza aside, there are more powerful suggestions that 2012 will be a low turnout election.  I focus here on the frequency of Google searches for election-related information.  Searches for “vote” should be an indicator of interest in electoral participation....

The entire post can be read here:


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Environmental Fanatics and Governments That Do Their Bidding Are Preventing Economic Recovery
Raymond Richman, 10/24/2012

Government subsidies to “green” energy financed by government borrowing may be the principal cause of the economic crisis gripping the Eurozone and the world. According to a Forbes story, based on  a United Nation’s report, global investment in renewable energy reached $257 billion in 2011. China was responsible for almost one-fifth of total global investment, spending $52 billion on renewable energy last year. The United States was close behind with investments of $51 billion, Germany, Italy and India rounded out the list of the top five countries. In 2011, solar led the way as far as global investment in renewable energy, with investment surging to $147 billion, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent, due to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain. Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during the year. Wind power investment slipped 12 percent to $84 billion as a result of uncertainty about energy policy in Europe and fewer new installations in China, according to the report.

Spain was forced to end its subsidies to “green” energy last year because the subsidies brought Spain to the brink of bankruptcy and created few jobs. Unemployment in Spain is over 20%. Its trade deficit grew and the government was running out of euros. Prof. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, concluded that 2.2 jobs are lost for each permanent job "created" by wind and solar plants. The professor believes that subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may likewise be destroying two jobs for every one created and he testified to that effect before a U.S. congressional committee. He repeated his findings in a recent interview with Ed Lasky, editor of the blog American Thinker. ...


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U.S. Trade deficit with China improved slightly in August
Howard Richman, 10/14/2012

According to numbers released on Thursday by the Commerce Department, the U.S. trade deficit with China improved slightly in August, after 23 months of steady deterioration as shown in the graph below:


In August, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China was $28.89 billion compared to $28.96 billion in August of 2011. Summed over the last twelve months, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China was $309.3 billion in August....


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Ray was right! The latest jobless claims were phony. A Labor Department economist blows the whistle on the phony report.
Howard Richman, 10/12/2012

On Thursday, the Labor Department posted phony numbers for the weekly jobless claims report. In response, the stock market went up. But Ray wasn't fooled. (See his last posting.)

After the release of the report, a Labor Department economist told Dow Jones that an entire state's renewal numbers had been left out of the report without any mention within the report. Here's a selection from a CNBC article (Why Jobless Claims May Not Be as Good as Market Thinks):...


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U.S. Department of Labor Reports Implausible Employment Data
Raymond Richman, 10/11/2012

Evidence that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor may be fudging the data to help

Pres. Obama recover from the beating he took in the first debate between him and challenger Gov. Romney is

the latest report on unemployment insurance claims during the week ending October 6, 2012. It reported that

the number of claims seasonally adjusted decreased by 30,000  and this was the number that CNBC reported

and which all the media will report. The BLS also reported the actual number of claims filed, the unadjusted

data, and it showed an increase of 25,990. I know of no statistical process that could produce such a

difference given the fact that both adjusted and unadjusted data in the weeks preceding were close to

one another and heading in the same direction. ...


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Honda and Clean Energy offer $3000 fuel rebate for 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas
Howard Richman, 10/9/2012

Automobile companies have been pricing their CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) models at such a high price that buyers have been unable to save much money by buying them, despite CNG being priced at about 60% of the price of gasoline.

Though GM and Chrysler are marketing pick-up trucks that run on either gasoline or CNG, Honda is the only company currently marketing a CNG car in the United States. The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas car is priced about $6,000 higher than its gasoline-powered equivalent. But that is starting to change....


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The Shrinking Labor Force – More Important Than 7.8% Unemployment
Howard Richman, 10/7/2012

Many economists have been confused by the seeming disconnect between the jobs numbers and the unemployment rate in recent reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But there is a simple explanation. People are leaving the labor force in droves. Although the “sexy” figure in Friday’s unemployment report was a decline in the unemployment rate from 8.1% to 7.8%, the more significant number was the decline in the labor force by an enormous 211,000.

But the 211,000 decline in September was paltry compared to the 1,777,000 people who left the labor force in January, according to BLS statistics. At that time, former Reagan budget director David Stockman suggested that we might be experiencing "The Economists' Truman Show." (To find this December-to-January adjustment in the January BLS press release, check out Table C.)

Some observers have even thought that the BLS might be classifying unemployed workers as “out of the labor force,” in order to reduce the unemployment rate. After all, if an unemployed person has not looked for work within the last four weeks, he is no longer part of the labor force, and thus no longer classified as unemployed.

Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh incorrectly predicted, months ago, that the Obama administration would produce a 7.9% unemployment rate in time to influence the election. He was wrong: they produced a 7.8% rate....


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Obama's Freudian Slip: He Wants to Export Jobs -- we're published in today's American Thinker
Howard Richman, 10/4/2012

You can read it here:

Even though we wrote it before the debate, much of what we said tied in directly with what the candidates said last night. Again last night, Romney highlighted his plans to crack down on China's trade cheating. It was in his five point summary of his position. We began our American Thinker piece with that promise.

In this piece we quoted a portion from the last 2008 debate when Obama claimed (falsely, as it turned out) that he would take on China's currency manipulations while McCain said that he would instead send unemployed manufacturing workers to community colleges for non-existent jobs.

Last night Obama, channeled the 2008 McCain. He noted that he was re-educating manufacturing workers at community colleges for existing jobs, while Romney pointed out that half of college graduates can't find employment.

Again in the debate last night and again in his closing statement, Obama rehashed his phony way of dealing with trade from the 2008 campaign, his proposed tax on outsourcers. We explained that issue this morning, when we wrote:...



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Free Trade With China? No, Fair Trade. No Artificial Barriers to Trade
Raymond Richman, 10/2/2012

In an editorial entitled “Romney’s Trade Pessimism”, the Wall Street Journal 9/15/2012  criticized Gov. Romney for publishing an ad attacking Pres. Obama for the latter’s failure to deal with our trade deficit with China. In the last twenty years, the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased from $39 billion in 1992 to $506 billion in 2011. Our deficit with China in 2011accounted for $280 billion, more than half, costing about 2.8 million jobs. Allowing such a huge deficit to continue is a disservice to the American worker.

Free trade is a policy that assumes that the trading partners are not imposing artificial barriers to imports or subsidies to exports. Thanks to our constitution, there is no barrier to the free movement of goods among the states, the essential condition for an enduring policy of free trade. Free trade advocates often argue that if our trading partner is foolish enough to exchange its goods for our “paper”, why should we complain? The basis for such a statement is that at some time in the future, the debt will have to be repaid and we shall have to have a trade surplus to do it. But with China setting the official value of its currency and employing other mercantilist practices such as tariffs, there are no market forces to produce such a turnaround.  In the meantime, the trade surplus country experiences a stimulus to growth in GDP and employment while the trade deficit country experiences a drag on GDP and employment. If one looks at the GDP accounts, one can see why. An excess of imports over exports detracts from GDP while a surplus adds to GDP. In other words, a trade deficit means we are losing jobs. ...


Comments: 1

Costs of the Trade Deficit
Jesse Richman, 10/2/2012

Briefing Paper: Growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost 2.8 million jobs between 2001 and 2010 ...


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The Debate
Jesse Richman, 10/2/2012

Writing for National Journal, Jim Tankersley raises what he terms "The Only Debate Question that Matters" of "Why aren't you serious about trying to solve the jobs crisis?" in a forceful way.  Tankersley notes that neither candidate has a jobs plan that can credibly be claimed to be up to the scale of the jobs challenge...


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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]