Free Trade Agreement: An Analogy

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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17 Responses

  1. North says:

    Sure, though in this case there was no “Pizza” that was bought and paid for by anyone so no one’s really on the hook for anything beyond a lot of jawjawing. Since government officials everywhere adore jawjawing that’s not much of a sunk cost.

    *note* I support the TPP personally.Report

    • Plinko in reply to North says:

      Besides the lost years of time that they could have been focusing on other agreements- which is still something – I know several companies that sunk tens of millions of dollars into facilities and plants in anticipation of TPP going into effect after the agreement was finalized, and that’s just in my relatively smallish industry.

      Now, you can say they should have waited for more countries to ratify (and I thought the same), but they did make those investments based on assurances from governments that the deal is done.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Plinko says:

        The knock on effects and the opportunity costs of actually dealing with the US wanting to start over are going to be pretty big.

        Just like how Obama said the UK would have to get in line in the case of Brexit (as TTIP and TPP take precedence), the US may very well face some serious hurdles on getting the parties back to the table if they trash the current agreement.Report

      • North in reply to Plinko says:

        I bow to your superior expertise, the thing about the TPP, of course, is that it’s final disposition will remain unknown until a non-election year.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I saw this tweet today and I have been chewing on it a long, long time:

    Fun fact: the two times the post-industrial world turned away from free trade we had world wars.— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterType) July 28, 2016

    That said, there is reason to come to the conclusion that NAFTA did not make everyone better off. The people hardest hit were not, in fact, the millionaire and upper middle class types.

    I’m sure that there are a lot of people set to make out like bandits from the TPP and, sure, a rising tide will lift most of the boats.

    But the people hardest hit will once again *NOT* be the Americans with the widest margins.

    Of course the TP Partners in the TPP will benefit enormously. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

    But until we wrestle with the damage we did to our-ever-more-segregated society via NAFTA, though, we’re going to have to keep wondering why our wife is so dead-set against pizza.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      I agree in general although i seriously doubt the history of that tweet. There was no Free Trade suddenly turning to non free that sparked WW 1 and 2. It was far more complex then that and involved a hell of lot of other things.Report

    • j r in reply to Jaybird says:

      Huh? What damage did NAFTA do?

      I thought it was the Chinese flooding our countries with their cheap products and Walmarts that were the problem.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        Are you willing to believe the Economic Policy Institute? If so, here.

        If not, yeah. It seems that Free Trade with China did a great deal of harm to American Workers too. Or so it is being reported. (Tyler Cowen called it “This is some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years.”)

        If the EPI isn’t good enough for you, would you be willing to see how someone might extrapolate from Autor, Dorn, and Hanson and wonder whether NAFTA was all it was cracked up to be?Report

        • j r in reply to Jaybird says:

          It’s not really about believing. Obviously, the EPI has an agenda and a point of view, just as all the pro-free trade think tanks have theirs

          There is really only on one concrete claim on that page, the one about lost manufacturing jobs. And I have no doubt that globalization and development in other countries has cost the U.S manufacturing jobs. I just question the role that trade deals play in what just looks like an inevitability.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

          But you can’t extrapolate from Autor et al to NAFTA. As they themselves acknowledge, the sheer size of China and its unusually rapid industrialization made it sui generis. They actually looked at NAFTA in the same paper and didn’t find much. If I’m reading it right (it’s a bit technical), it says that the effect of NAFTA on US manufacturing employment was a) totally swamped by China, b) may even have been slightly positive, due to exports to Mexico.

          EPI reliably pushes the union line. The fact that they oppose NAFTA contains precisely zero bits of information.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            At the end of the day, the problem (very much like the problem with immigration) is one where the benefits of NAFTA fall squarely on my head and the costs of it fall… I dunno. Elsewhere.

            All of the research I’m doing is telling me that NAFTA, overall, was good for everybody who signed up. I’ve no doubt that that is true, overall.Report

    • Plinko in reply to Jaybird says:

      The real problem of FTAs is that there are always promises that our rich friend will help out the folks hurt by them. But when it comes time to actually try to help those folks, suddenly our rich buddy’s wife says he’s not allowed to spend money on losers who can’t hold a decent job on their own.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Plinko says:

        For all the grief that’s given to Tony Blair, one of the things that he DID do was he used the spoils of liberalization and globalization to fund a massive increase in redistribution in the UK.

        Likely as not similar things would happen in Australia (well, maybe, not so sure any more) or Japan, or even Singapore.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Plinko says:

        Thats why I remain unconvinced on arguments about having better tools to deal with wage gaps than the minimum wage like the EITC and UBI. Put the better systems in place first before getting rid of the inefficient but still helpful theories we have now.Report

  3. dexter says:

    @j-r, For more news about NAFTA, go to your home page and type in “NAFTA’s detrimental effect on Mexico.Report