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Friday, September 2, 2016

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Can the U.S. Chamber Put One & One Together on Trade?

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Can the U.S. Chamber Put One & One Together on Trade?

I’ve long urged trade policy critics (including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump) to stop questioning the intelligence of globalization cheerleaders. Especially, when we’re talking about offshoring-happy multinational corporations and their hired guns in Washington, I’ve insisted, they’ve known exactly what they’ve been doing – pushing the trade and other international economic policies likeliest to reward the companies with the biggest profits in the shortest time-frame.
True, the longer-term effects have produced losses for many of them – especially since the immense imbalances resulting from these policies helped trigger the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession, which at least initially hit earnings and stock prices. But charges of stupidity don’t seem valid even in this regard, since most of the American economic system’s incentives discourage long-term thinking.
A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, however, could justify a rethink. For it’s a great example of an organization ignoring evidence that’s been staring it in the face for literally decades – and that’s become especially glaring recently. Moreover, it inadvertently validates the claim made by American politicians like Trump that major numbers of manufacturing jobs could be returned to the United States if Washington only mustered the will to do so.
The Chamber, of course, has been one of the most powerful mainstays of the overlapping corporate offshoring and cheap labor lobbies, and this morning released a study bemoaning the worldwide growth of what’s often called “techno-protectionism.” That is, more and more countries have been working harder and harder to promote their own domestic information technology industries through a variety of new regulations that the Chamber rightly notes have cloaked simple beggar-thy-neighbor aims in national security rationales.

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