Friday, October 29, 2010

Feeble signs of press concern about free trade policies

Could it be that the press is becoming aware of the perils posed by U.S. trade policies? Maybe, but don’t count on any follow-up.

“Six Reasons for U.S. to Abandon Free-Trade Myth” is the title of a column by Ian Fletcher published in the October 25 issue of Bloomberg Business Week. Fletcher, author of “Free Trade Doesn’t Work” and an adjunct fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, advocates imposing U.S. compensatory tariffs on imports subsidized by currency manipulation, a move recently passed by the House of Representation.

The conservative business writer, Robert J. Samuelson, is especially troubled by our one-sided trade relations with China. The title of his September 27 op-ed column in the Washington Post summarizes his position; “Standing up to China: A trade war may be the lesser of two evils.” He charges that China “has never genuinely accepted the basic rules governing the world economy.”

Even the New York Times, that staunch defender of free trade, is sounding an alarm, as in an August 16 editorial, “Return of the Killer Trade Deficit.” It describes the “very dangerous habits” of China, as well as Germany, but limits itself to lecturing them to spend more at home and abroad. America should slow national spending and save more. The Times fears a trade war, as if China hasn’t been waging one for years.

So the press mood may be shifting, but not enough to help prevent the United States from committing economic suicide.

For some background, read my blog item of January 2, “Economic suicide is not an option.”

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