Focus on Trade

Focus on Trade

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On July 9, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis economist Yi Wen blamed the large trade imbalance between the U.S. and China in large part on excessive saving by Chinese consumers.

In a July 3 commentary, Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati addressed some common protectionist arguments and briefly explained why they are wrong.

On July 1, the U.S. International Trade Commission released a report on trade in services. In contrast to the large U.S. deficit in goods, the country runs a large surplus in services; indeed, the largest in the world, $161.4 billion in 2008.

On June 29, the Peterson Institute released a study on “U.S. Protectionist Impulses in the Wake of the Great Recession.” It provides a history of economic nationalism in the U.S. and recent trade initiatives. The authors fear that unless aggressive efforts are made to safeguard the global trading system that protectionist pressures could escalate.

On June 23, the Center for Economic Policy Research in London released an e-book examining protectionism in the G20 nations.

In a paper released on June 22, the Peterson Institute examined the extent to which U.S. exports and imports flow through wholesalers and retailers versus producing and consuming firms.

In a June 17 speech, economist Edwin Truman of the Peterson Institute discussed linkages between international trade and financial markets.

On June 16, the Congressional Research Service issued a report discussing U.S. participation in the World Trade Organization, including options for withdrawal.

In a June paper, economists Lawrence Edwards and Robert Z. Lawrence examine whether imports from developing countries are reducing the wages of American workers. They conclude that they don’t because the U.S. industries that compete with imports are not very labor intensive: “Judged by export shares, the United States and developing countries specialize in quite different product categories that, for the most part, do not overlap.”

Also in June, a working paper from the World Trade Organization argued that there are increasing problems in interpreting data on international trade flows owing to the increasing vertical integration of multinational corporations and the expansion of export processing zones in developing countries.

In an April study, World Bank economists Hiau Looi Kee, Cristina Neagu and Alessandro Nicita examined whether protectionism was responsible for the sharp decline in trade in 2009 and concluded that it was not.

According to a March 26 report from the World Trade Organization, the volume of world trade fell 12.2 percent in 2009, the sharpest decline since World War II.

On March 24, the Congressional Research Service published a report on trade policy and options in the 111th Congress.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Read his most recent column here. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Previous posts:

July 16: Weekly Roundup
July 15: Tax Policy
July 14: Do Tax Cuts Starve the Beast?
July 13: Focus on Value-Added Tax


Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.