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How Trump could avoid a Trade War -- We're published in the Washington Examiner this morning
Howard Richman, 5/31/2016

We begin:

Donald Trump argues that recent trade deals and trade deficits have been bad for American workers, and that he could do better. Some have argued that his proposals would start a trade war. But if he comes up with the right BATNA (Best Alternative To a NegotiatedAgreement), he could move trade toward balance without a trade war.

In August 1971 President Nixon used a 10 percent across-the-board tariff as his BATNA in order to force the successful negotiations which brought U.S. trade into balance by 1973. But U.S. trade deficits were small in Nixon's day and huge today. Trump will need a much more powerful BATNA than the across-the-board tariff used by Nixon.

Trump has proposed single-country tariffs against Mexico and China of 35 percent to 45 percent. Such tariffs would indeed provide a very powerful BATNA. They would balance trade, even if the negotiations fail, because the United States would shift its import purchases to balanced-trading countries that buy more from us when we buy more from them. The revival in American manufacturing that Trump desires would occur.

But such tariffs could lead to a trade war. The countries involved would likely place counter-tariffs upon politically-sensitive U.S. products, such as American agricultural goods. Fortunately, there is a BATNA that Trump could choose which would avoid a trade war altogether.

To read it, go to:



Comments: 3

Global Trade down 9% since 2014
Howard Richman, 5/25/2016

Robert Romano, writing on Net Right Daily, Americans for Limited Government's website, reports that global trade is down about 9% since 2014. He begins:

Global trade is collapsing. In March, the U.S. trade deficit took a big hit, dropping 13.8 percent amid an $8 billion contraction in imports and a $2 billion shrinking of exports, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most economists think that global trade collapses during global economic recessions due to the fact that countries often raise their tariff rates during those recessions. But the causation is different. First trade becomes imbalanced. Then the trade deficit countries get into financial problems and can no longer buy as many imports from the trade surplus countries. Then trade collapses and world growth stagnates. Finally, trade deficit countries impose balancing-trade tariffs upon the products of the trade surplus countries which allows them to get out of the recession. So the economic recession itself causes both the decline in world trade and the rising tariffs.

We are not the first economists to understand that imbalanced trade leads to global economic slowdowns. We attributed that understanding to John Maynard Keynes in our journal article about our Scaled Tariff when we wrote:...


Comments: 0

Jesse was interviewed by Fox News on Saturday
Howard Richman, 5/3/2016

Here's the link:




Comments: 2

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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]