From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Posts Tagged ‘mexico

…and the next thing…

leave a comment »

I’ve been critical of the current occupants of the White House, and particularly their apparent naivity about the economy.  One might falsely surmise from my criticism that I’m a raging lefty.  I would rejoinder that competence knows no political stripes.  That said, I would note this morning that an economist from two leading conservative think tanks also expresses skepticism over The Donald’s trade policies.

The conservative bona fides of the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation are beyond question.  The former bills itself as, “…the leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the nation,” while the latter is lead by former GOP Congressman and Tea Party stalwart Jim DeMint, from my former home state of South Carolina.   Stephen Moore, a Heritage economist and co-founder of the Club for Growth, appeared on CNN’s Party People podcast, and said, “On trade, I think he’s playing with fire here.”  He went on to say, “And I think the idea of a tariff against Mexico is a terrible idea.  I think it would hurt Mexico a lot, and I think it would hurt American consumers as well.  We don’t need a trade war with Mexico.”  He did, however, give a tentative pass to The Donald’s attitude toward China, noting  “I kind of approve of some of the things he’s doing on China.”

Full disclosure here — I don’t necessarily agree with Moore on every point he makes.  Moore invokes the legacy of Harry Truman, and says that Truman got off to a rocky start but learned the Presidency quickly.  I would beg to differ on the validity of Moore’s analogy.  Truman had held significant local office in Missouri, was an Army Reserve Colonel, and was late in his second term as a Senator when the nod for the VP job came along.  The Truman Committee in the Senate, during the war years, provided extraordinary oversight to the conduct of the war and investigated every aspect of government management during the several years he was chair. As such, Truman was probably the most prepared person to assume the presidency available at the time.  (Many would have preferred South Carolina’s Jimmy Byrnes, but Byrne’s record on segregation would have made him a tough sell.)

Any “rough start” to the Truman presidency had to be taken in the context of inheriting a 2-front war, an atomic bomb, the beginnings of the cold war, massive demobilization, turning the American economy from war production to consumption, open rebellion from two wings of his own party (the Dixiecrats under Thurmond and the Progressives under Wallace) and devastation around the world.  The Donald, on the other hand, has inherited a stable, growing economy, no inflation, low unemployment, and a loyal majority in both houses of congress.

Ahem….  If The Donald screws this one up, it’s all on him.

Written by johnkilpatrick

February 14, 2017 at 7:19 am

Unilateral tariffs

leave a comment »

It occurs to me that a few people might not understand why unilateral tariffs against Mexico might be a suicidially bad idea, the global equivalent of “Hey, hold my beer while I try this!”

Here are a few random reasons, just off the top of my head, why this is an amazingly stupid idea… in no particular order…

  1. Any tariffs on imports from Mexico will be born, 100%, by American consumers, and generally those at the bottom tier of the consumption curve.
  2. It pisses off our one of our two nearest trading partners, and will undermine our relations with the other one.
  3. It opens the door for China to create and expand a hedgemony in the Pacific Rim….
  4. …which, in effect, nullifies the Monroe Doctrine (3 & 4 being the most devastating problem — no one in the Pacific Rim will trust us ever again).
  5. Since the left coast of our country is vitally dependent on Pacific Rim trade, it’s…. well… I’ve already used the word suicide.  Given that Washington, Oregon,  Hawaii, and California didn’t vote for Trump, why does he care???
  6. We export zillions of things (trucks, airplanes, software, indie movies, timber, building products, video games, wine — just to name the things that come from MY ZIP CODE) to the Pacific Rim.  Kiss those asses goodbye.
  7. Google “Smoot Hawley Tariff Act of 1939” and see what you get.
  8. Unilateral shifts in complex demand curves are theoretically unsupported (OK, that one requires a bit of graduate level econ, but bear with me here.)
  9. On a practical level, I can now import anything I want from El Salvador at a price 1% higher than I previously received from Mexico.  Thus,  I’ve simply baked in a 1% consumer inflation to be borne entirely by folks who shop at Wal Mart (see #1 above).
  10. Oh Christ it’s such a stupid idea….

Written by johnkilpatrick

January 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Economy, Finance, Inflation, Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: