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.