Some stories are just too good not to pass on, even if you wonder whether or not they are true: Cordell Hull saw Aliens in Glass Containers .
Max Baucus, Democratic Senator from Montana and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, gave a speech on trade early this month: Senator Max Baucus Delivers Major Speech to NDN on U.S. Trade Policy (Oct 2).
Unlike some of the Democratic Presidential candidates, and unlike the party's populist/economic nationalist wing, Baucus describes trade and globalization in very positive terms, characterizes anti-globalization politicians negatively, and reminds his audience about the Democratic party's great internationalist traditions. There's an enormous difference between this, and Clinton's recent rhetoric: What Clinton Said About Trade on Monday (Ben Muse, October 11, 2007) Granted, Baucus doesn't have to face Iowa caucuses this winter.
Policy recommendations include:
Tyler Cowen points to a new draft working paper by Emily Oster finding a causal link between exports from a sub-Saharan African country and new AIDS infections: Routes of Infection: Exports and HIV Incidence in Sub-Saharan.
Oster finds that "a doubling of exports leads to as much as a quadrupling in new HIV infections."
Why does this happen?
This relationship is consistent with a model of the epidemic in which truckers and other migrants have higher rates of risky behavior, and their numbers increase in periods with greater exports. I present evidence suggesting that the relationship between exports and HIV is causal and works, at least in part, through increased transit.
There are important policy conclusions:
The result has important policy implications, suggesting (for example) that there is signi cant value in prevention focused on these transit-oriented groups. I apply this result to study the case of Uganda, and argue that a decline in exports in the early 1990s in that country appears to explain between 30% and 60% of the decline in HIV infections. This suggests that the success of the Ugandan education campaign against HIV - the ABC campaign - has been overstated.
The Congressional Research Service has released a report on the U.S. Export Administration Act (EAA): The Export Administration Act: Evolution, Provisions, and Debate (Ian Fergusson, September 29, 2007).
The EAA gives the President authority to "control exports for national security, foreign policy, or short supply purposes." This backgrounder looks at the history of the EAA, its provisions, and the types of products that raise concerns, and outlines some of the different perspectives people have on it.
Here's the executive summary:
George Grammas of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey reviews the recent legislation reforming the process by which the U.S. reviews foreign investments for their national security implications: United States: New Law Enhances Scrutiny of Foreign Acquisitions of US Critical Infrastructure (October 24, 2007).
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is the 1947 agreement that provided a framework for the gradual reduction of tariffs and the expansion of trade since the Second World War. This document is one of the load-bearing walls of the modern world.
Douglas Irwin, Petros Mavroidis and Alan Sykes are working on a book on the origins of the GATT. Here's the Sept 19, 2007 draft of the introduction and first chapter: The Genesis of the GATT.
As the Arctic ice sheet shrinks, shipping will begin to move from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific across northern Norway and Russia, and across northern Canada and Alaska. Both routes meet in the Chukchi Sea, merge, and transit the Bering Strait. Oil development, commercial fishing, tourism, scientific research, and military patrols are also going to contribute traffic.
All of this will require infrastructure: ports, bases for sea-going tugs, air facilities, search and rescue bases, prepositioned oil spill response equipment, and aids to navigation.
The U.S. Coast Guard will be setting up its first Arctic Ocean base - probably at Barrow - next Spring: New Coast Guard Task in Arctic’s Warming Seas . It's also begun discussions with the Russians on comtrol of traffic through the Bering Strait (Matthew Wald and Andrew Revkin, New York Times, October 19):
The Progressive Policy Institute's "Trade Fact of the Week" from last week deals with the growth of international and U.S. trade in services, and the regional origins of U.S service exports: Rhode Island, Nevada, and the District of Columbia are U.S.' Most Service-Intensive Exporters (Oct 10):
The Democratics harbor a wide range of trade policy communities: economic nationalist/populists, progressives, various special interest protectionists, and Hamiltonian project liberals.
Here Dani Rodrik describes a trade policy for progressive Democrats: What would a progressive trade agenda look like? (Dani Rodrik's Weblog, October 12). The comments are good too.
On Monday Clinton laid out her program for rebuilding the middle class in the U.S.: Rebuilding the Middle Class: Hillary Clinton's Economic Blueprint for the 21st Century. Trade measures play a role in this.
The speech took place at the start of a campaign tour through Iowa. About two thirds of the way through the speech she got to trade. She said she'd do the following:
Here it is in her words:
Global warming is going to increase the costs of maintaining Alaska's public infrastucture (roads, bridges, sewage systems, buildings, airports).
Researchers from the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute for Social and Economic Research look into it: Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure At Risk From Climate Change:
A warming climate will damage Alaska's infrastucture because it was designed for a cold climate. The damage will be concentrated in places where permafrost thaws, flooding increases, and coastal erosion gets worse. But the extra costs will likely diminish over time, as government agencies increasingly adapt infrastructure to changing conditions.
Daniel Ikenson of the Cato Institute read the report on the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll of likely Republican primary voters (59% of whom felt foreign trade had been bad for the U.S.) and found the poll wanting: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and a Media Happy to Abuse Them (Cato Online, Oct 4). He thinks the questions were badly phrased. Here's a correction that doesn't affect his key point: Correction to Yesterday’s Post, (Lies, Damn Lies,…) (Cato Online, Oct 5).
Here's my post on those poll results: Republican Primary Voter Trade Views (Ben Muse, Oct 6)
The WSJ/NBC poll results weren't the only ones released last week. The Pew Research Center also released a set of poll results with some information on U.S. trade attitudes. Ikenson reported on these as well: How Do Americans Really Feel about Trade? (Cato Online, Oct 5). Here we find that 64% of Republicans think trade has been a good thing for the U.S.
The last cruise ship of the season came through Juneau in mid-September, ending a season which begins in May each year. Throughout the summer there were typically three or four large cruise ships at the docks or at anchor in Juneau's harbor.
From Alaska Port Reviews.
Rough preliminary estimates from the industry suggest the number of passengers touring to Alaska were up by about 40,000 from last year, bringing the total close to 1,000,000 for the season:
Republicans likely to vote in their presidential primaries next year tend to favor new restrictions on imports. John Harwood reports on the results of a new poll conducted by the Well Street Journal and NBC News: Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade (Wall Street Journal, October 5).
A detailed summary of the poll results is here: NBC/Wall Street Journal GOP Primary Voters Survey.
From the Congressional Research Service: U.S. Trade Statutes: Expiration Dates and Mandated Periodic Reports to Congress (October 2) - and a lesson on the trade policy relationship between Congress and the President:
The NERA Economic Consulting firm offers several reports dealing with congestion pricing for various transportation modes:
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has distributed two new working papers on U.S. tariff history.
Douglas Irwin estimates Trade Restrictiveness and Deadweight Losses from U.S. Tariffs, 1859-1961 and finds:
The Arctic sea ice melt season is over.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the arctic ice cap "plummeted to the lowest levels since satellite measurements began in 1979.": Arctic Sea Ice Shatters All Previous Record Lows. Diminished summer sea ice leads to opening of the fabled Northwest Passage . (press release, Oct 1).
Figure 1: This image compares the average sea ice extent for September 2007 to September 2005; the magenta line indicates the long-term median from 1979 to 2000. September 2007 sea ice extent was 4.28, compared to 5.57 in September 2005. This image is from the NSIDC Sea Ice Index.
Figure 2: The updated time series plot puts this summer’s sea ice extent in context with other years. 2007, shown in solid blue, is far below the previous record year of 2005, shown as a dashed line; September 2007 was 36% below where we would expect to be in an average year, shown in solid gray.
Figure 3: September ice extent from 1979 to 2007 shows an obvious decline. The September rate of sea ice decline since 1979 is now approximately 10 percent per decade, or 72,000 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) per year.
You'd hope that democracy would make headway as incomes grow in China, but a set of World Bank's governance indicators doesn't show evidence of progress since 1996 - despite awesome growth.
Chinese GDP per capita has grown enormously since 1980 - and especially since the first World Bank governance indicators become available in 1996: