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

click to see full sizeMy 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


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.