People actually have "sold" the Brooklyn Bridge.
Gabriel Cohen told the story of attempts to sell the Brooklyn Bridge a few days ago in the New York Times: For You, Half Price. (Nov 27):
Mobilizing the stars
Rock star Bono's African development NGO, DATA , views trade as a potentially valuable development tool, and is lobbying for a productive Doha Round.
Last week, the Washington Post carried a story by Sebastian Mallaby on DATA-sponsored briefings to prepare Brad Pitt for a Doha advocacy role: Trade and Aid: Stars Are Aligned (Nov 21):
Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution passes on a note from investigator Rudy Rummel, with estimates of murders by 20th Century governments: Democide.
Rummel estimates that governments murdered something like 174 million persons last century. This does not include combat deaths; Rummel estimates that murders far exceeded combat deaths.
You can find a lot of neat stuff if you rifle around in Emmanuel Saez's Home Page .
Here's a paper on the evolution of income distribution in Japan: The Evolution of Income Concentration in Japan, 1885-2002: Evidence from Income Tax Statistics (a working paper by Chiaki Moriguchi and Saez, dated last August).
Look at the hit average income took during the World War, the rapid recovery after, and the convergence towards U.S. income levels:
The first draft of a declaration for the Doha Round Hong Kong meeting of WTO member trade ministers was released today: DOHA WORK PROGRAMME. Preparations for the Sixth Session of the Ministerial Conference. Draft Ministerial Text (Nov 26).
The paper can be found at Saez's website: The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence .
Their evidence for long term trends comes from income tax returns. Essentially Saez and Veall have looked at income tax returns for upper income persons in Canada, and compared the tax income estimates to overall estimates of national income from other sources. The limitations of the data prevent them from saying anything about the details of income changes below the 90th percentile.
The figure shows the proportion of income accruing to top income percentiles (90-95, 95-99, and 99-100). The data for the 90-95 percentile grouping only becomes available after the World War.
A Doha Round trade agreement should make most people better off. It can play a role in reducing poverty in developing nations. Why are the negotiations so difficult? Why is this so painful?
In March, Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian argued that the negotiations would only produce a modest result: Why Prospects for Trade Talks are not Bright (Finance & Development, March 2005).
Mattoo and Subramanian noted that the pressure for past multilateral trade agreements has come from business interests in developed countries.
Many businesses may benefit enough to find that working for an agreement is a good investment (Global trade advocacy offers huge commercial returns, Peter Gallagher, July 20, 2005). People who might also benefit as individual consumers or workers, either may not see the connection between liberal trade rules and benefits, or may not benefit enough themselves to find an investment in this issue worthwhile. Thus the importance of business leadership, although Mattoo and Subramanian don't get into this.
They do note, however, that this time business interests have been relatively disengaged. And, Mattoo and Subramanian argue, why not: Many developing countries have been reducing trade barriers unilaterally, often at the urging of the World Bank and IMF. This reduces the incentive of businesses in developed countries to negotiate. They can also get much of what they want through regional trade agreements. Moreover, multilateral agreements take a long time to reach - bilateral or regional agreements may be quicker.
Moreover, areas in which developing countries have special interest - agriculture, textiles, labor mobility, and services - are very sensitive for developed countries.
In September 1917, my grandfather, a rifleman in the 11th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifles (KRR), went over the top in the Third Battle of Ypres.
On September 20th, the British were attacking German lines east of the Belgian town of Ypres. A history of the KRR describes the attack by the 11th as follows:
Eagle Trench, 20th September. The 10th and 11th Battalions took part in an attack north-east of Langemarck. The first objective was taken and held; fighting was severe and somewhat confused. Casualties were heavy, and though further progress was made in places, at dusk most of the small parties left out withdrew. Losses of the two battalions. - Officers: killed 10, wounded 6; other ranks 351.
I've added parts of this description as section headings for Muse's account.
The Doha Round talks suffered a setback this week, when the trade ministers of member nations failed to reach an agreement on a moderately ambitious deal for the Hong Kong meetings: Blame game starts as global trade talks fail to bring vital breakthrough (Frances Williams, Financial Times, November 10).
The Hong Kong meetings will still go forward, and the next step is to put together a draft text for that meeting. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy will try and produce this by the end of the month. Williams reports:
More than 20 trade ministers from WTO members meet at 2 PM this afternoon in Geneva for talks meant to advance the Doha round negotiations.
Monday evening, representatives of the US, EU, Brazil, India, and Japan, met in the Indian embassy for six hours of negotiations. The New Economist reported early Tuesday morning that, although the talks were productive, ultimately things didn't come together: WTO trade talk hopes fade .
Early Tuesday afternoon Richard Waddington and William Schomberg reported that trade ministers were now beginning to think about scaling back on the goals for Hong Kong: Trade ministers may have to delay WTO push (Reuters, Nov 8).
This week's Economist has a special report on Brazil's agricultural potential: Brazilian agriculture. The harnessing of nature's bounty. (Economist, Nov 5, subscription required)
Brazil has enormous agricultural potential; a successful Doha Round may help to unlock it:
Elizabeth Becker reports that the Senate retained a measure (in budget legislation) to extend at least some subsidy provisions of the 2002 farm bill beyond their current expiration date in 2007, until 2011: U.S. Senate showdown on farm subsidies is threat to trade talks (International Herald Tribune, Nov 3):
But on Thursday, the Senate raised no objections to extending those subsidies by four years, to 2011. The White House had wanted the Senate to let stand the expiration date of 2007, when Congress is scheduled to rewrite the entire farm program. Now, critics contend, it will be harder to convince U.S. trading partners that the farm lobby is willing to give up some of its approximately $19 billion in annual subsidies.
The East Asians have a lot to gain from trade negotiations, so why aren't they playing a greater leadership role in the Doha round of negotiations, asks Guy de Jonquières Doha failure harms Asia most. (Financial Times, Oct 31, subscription required).
Farm issues are central to the current Doha Round negotiations. In the United States, budget debates, and early debates over the upcoming 2007 farm bill, have important implications for the negotiations.
The web site and free daily email newsletter, FarmPolicy.com by Keith Good is a helpful resource, with a useful survey of media coverage of farm issues.
Today's newsletter surveys media coverage of yesterday's House Agriculture Committee hearings on the Doha Round, other media coverage of the Round, coverage of French objections to the EU's negotiating proposals, and domestic EU farm subsidy politics.
Very helpful post from Peter Gallagher today.
His topic is the "must do list" for the meeting of WTO member nation trade ministers in Hong Kong this December: Must do list for agriculture negotiations.
Among other things,
French farmers aren't the only ones trying to place constraints on the scope of a Doha agricultural agreement.
Elizabeth Becker reports that:
U.S. lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to extend the huge commodity subsidies for American farmers to 2011 from 2007, adding a new complication to the already complex negotiations for a global trade agreement.
A damper on WTO talks? (International Herald Tribune, Nov 3)
The world won't end if there is a weak result from the Doha Round, or even if there is a failure to complete the round.
But the world will be a better place if we do. Economics columnist Martin Wolf takes up the theme: If trade liberalisation fails (Financial Times, Nov 1, subscription required). In addition to explaining what we stand to lose, he has some advice on how to conduct the negotiations: