Monthly Archives: February 2008

Obama’s policies called “protectionist and silly”

In a review by two UK econ­o­mists of Obama’s sup­port for the “Patriot Employer Act”

Sen. Barack Obama’s pro­posal is reac­tionary, pop­ulist, xeno­pho­bic and just plain silly. It is time for him to stop pan­der­ing and to show the world that hope and rea­son are not mutu­ally exclu­sive. Instead of increased pro­tec­tion­ism, the United States might increase its com­pet­i­tive­ness by sen­si­ble invest­ments in infra­struc­ture and edu­ca­tion.”(The dan­ger­ous pro­tec­tion­ism of Barack Obama)

I agree with their crit­i­cisms. Spec­u­la­tion about WTO com­pli­ance is intriguing—but I think the eco­nomic penal­ties would be greater than any legal sanction.

The astonishing Julio Lacarte and 60 years of GATT

click for a larger image

No one bet­ter rep­re­sents the fun, ded­i­ca­tion or opti­mism of the peo­ple who cre­ated the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem than Ambas­sador Julio Lacarte Muró. This recent video inter­view with him, recall­ing his par­tic­pa­tion in the Havana Con­fer­ence (1947) that by it’s ‘fail­ure’ gave birth to the GATT, is a reminder that the goals and prin­ci­ples of that long-ago era still shape our world and promise us a bet­ter one. They could have no bet­ter ambas­sador than the eter­nally smooth Julio Lacarte.

I love his remark about Havana hav­ing been a ‘lively town’ in 1947. I bet it was: the Con­fer­ence lasted 4 months!

Obama: don’t tread on me

We can’t keep pass­ing unfair trade deals like NAFTA that put spe­cial inter­ests over work­ers’ inter­ests (Barack Obama, empha­sis added)

Obama’s not going to let Mex­ico or Canada swin­dle the USA into greater spe­cial­iza­tion (or wealth) in the North Amer­i­can indus­trial land­scape! He has a plan for pre­vent­ing change as well as … um, the other one

The Garnaut Climate Review Interim Report—I’m not convinced

HadCrutAnomaly1850-2008_Tmb.gifMy dif­fi­culty with the Interim report of the Gar­naut Cli­mate Change Review is that it is headed toward a rec­om­men­da­tion that looks dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the cli­mate risk.

Pub­licly avail­able data on cli­mate change does not seem to call for extreme mea­sures such as a 70% to 90% cut in Australia’s car­bon emis­sions. This data has not been exam­ined by the Gar­naut team because it’s not their busi­ness to make a find­ing about it. But I think it deserves com­mon sense scrutiny by all Aus­tralians who are con­sid­er­ing whether their gov­ern­ment should imple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions for very costly mit­i­ga­tion schemes.

Can WTO control Kyoto climate tariffs?

My answer: ‘prob­a­bly not’. The harder ques­tion is: can either the WTO or Kyoto regime reach a con­sen­sus on enforce­able emis­sion con­trols? I doubt that, too.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion debates on acli­mate tar­iff are a ges­ture, I sus­pect, to EC indus­tries who are demand­ing con­tin­ued unpriced allo­ca­tion of base emis­sion rights under Europe’s emis­sions trad­ing scheme. But the import taxes are a real prospect, in my view, if gov­ern­ments do attempt to sta­bi­lize emis­sions at the lev­els con­tem­plated in the IPCC reports. Below the fold, my Op-Ed piece in today’s Aus­tralian Finan­cial Review”.

WTO’s explanation of the 08–02-08 Agriculture text

The com­pro­mise draft issued by the nego­ti­at­ing group chair­man is more than a ‘text’: after 7 years, this is, for the first time, an attempt at coher­ent pro­pos­als couched in the lan­guage of an agreee­ment. This sum­mary, pre­pared by jour­nal­ists in the WTO’s Infor­ma­tion Divi­sion, makes the text almost com­pre­hen­si­ble.

The main pur­pose of this note is to walk you through the revised draft text cir­cu­lated by Ambas­sador Craw­ford Fal­coner, chair­per­son of the agri­cul­ture nego­ti­a­tions, on 8 Feb­ru­ary 2008. It sum­ma­rizes the main points of the text and indi­cates where changes have been made com­pared with the pre­vi­ous draft cir­cu­lated in July 2”(WTO)
Here’s my analy­sis of the (prob­a­bly soggy and poten­tially ret­ro­grade impact) of the proposals.

The cost of the IPCC carbon target

ElectricitySources550ppm.jpg

Ital­ian energy econ­o­mists report on the means of achiev­ing the IPCC’s tar­get of 550 ppm of green­house gasses in the atmos­phere by the sec­ond half of the 21st cen­tury. It implies a dif­fer­ent world, poorer than we cur­rently imag­ine, and vis­i­bly dif­fer­ent too.

Click the image to see a larger version.