Monthly Archives: April 2008

Does trade with China help the poor?

One focus of the economic debate (if that’s what it is) in the battle for the Democrat nomination in the United States seems to be on the impact of trade—read: China—on jobs for the low-income group. But that’s only one side of the story. The other side is pretty interesting, too.

We examine the role played by Chinese exports in explaining the lower inflation of the poor. Since Chinese exports are concentrated in low-quality non-durable products that are heavily purchased by poorer Americans, we find that about one third of the relative price drops faced by the poor are associated with rising Chinese imports.Broda and Romalis

Australia’s export performance—should we be worried?

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The Australian government’s Review of Export Policies and Programs has apparently been prompted by concerns about export performance.

“While exports exhibited strong growth in the period 1980-2001, reflecting technological changes and important domestic policy initiatives such as the lowering of tariff barriers and the introduction of pro-competition policies, in recent years there has been a marked deterioration in the performance of Australian exports.”(Mortimer review)

Australia’s terms-of-trade have strengthened, due to demand for minerals and food commodities. What has led to the apparent drop in export performance? (Imports are doing fine…)

A ‘magic’ recipe for global food shortages

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There is no ‘famine’ nor even a long-term food scarcity. But poor people are paying more for food—when they can get it—than they should because governments have screwed-up. There is a well-attested solution to this problem, that looks like magic. You can have your cake and eat it too, with both higher prices for producers and lower prices and better supply for consumers.

Obama trapped in the ‘campaign bubble’

A speech about nothing, says the NY Times.

“Barack Obama delivered a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday on the economic stresses facing American workers. In the speech, he devoted one clause in one sentence to the single biggest factor affecting the workplace: technological change. He then devoted 45 sentences to one of the least important: trade deals.”(New York Times Op Ed)

New Zealand copyright reform

Is it too soon to hope the tide is turning against the abuse of copyright privilege at last? A report of consumer-friendly copyright reform that preserves fair dealing rights, from across the Tasman:

“Unlike the DMCA in the US, the new [New-Zealand] law allows people to bypass DRM if the intended use is legitimate, it explicitly allows format shifting and timeshifting, and it refuses to protect region-coding of movies and games.”(

More here from Michael Geist, Univerity of Ottawa professor of internet and e-commerce law.

A foolish overreaction

Former UK Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, in the Financial Times.

“Over the past five years I have become increasingly concerned at the scaremongering of the climate alarmists, which has led the governments of Europe to commit themselves to a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, regardless of the economic cost of doing so. “(“

Would ‘critical mass’ agreements in WTO be ‘fissile’ or ‘fusional’?

Here is the paper I presented today to the Melbourne University Center for Public Policy seminar on the Future of the Multilateral Trade System. It asks would ‘critical mass’ agreements—as recommended by the Warwick Commission—reinforce (‘fuse’) the WTO’s Single Undertaking or would they tend to pull it apart (‘fission’)? I welcome your comments.