Monthly Archives: February 2009

Signs good and bad

China’s Com­merce Min­is­ter pub­lishes and Op-Ed in the Wall Street Jour­nal that promises China will abide by the G20 (Wash­ing­ton, Novem­ber 2008) under­tak­ing on pro­tec­tion­ism and con­tinue to pro­mote import consumption.

Pas­cal Lamy sug­gests that the G20 pledge needs to be extended when the heads of gov­ern­ment meet again in Lon­don in April: “Their com­mit­ments last Novem­ber to reject pro­tec­tion­ism and push for the Doha round con­clu­sion were use­ful. We will need at least as much this time…”. That’s a diplo­matic under­state­ment.


p>But in Latin Amer­ica, Brazil and Argentina are involved in a <a href=“” title=“ICTSD

Effect of a market ‘fix’…

Con­trary to the spin, emissions-trading dis­cour­ages con­ser­va­tion:

But the fact is once emis­sions trad­ing comes in, every tonne of emis­sions saved by house­holds sim­ply frees up an extra per­mit that will allow big pol­luters to increase their emis­sions. This is because emis­sions trad­ing relies on a fixed num­ber of pol­lu­tion per­mits being in cir­cu­la­tion at any point in time. While most peo­ple under­stand that emis­sions trad­ing cre­ates a cap above which emis­sions can’t rise, it also cre­ates a floor below which emis­sions can’t fall.” Extract from The Aus­tralian

Trade policy in the Pacific

Image of Pacific trip

I’ll be away from home-base in Mel­bourne for the next cou­ple of weeks, work­ing on the design of a trade ‘capac­ity build­ing’ pro­gram for non-government orga­ni­za­tions (busi­ness and non-business, unions, uni­ver­si­ties) and indi­vid­u­als in Pacific Islands.

A long way to travel and dozens of peo­ple to meet and con­sult. Post­ing will be… light.

Next round of trade protection (Part II)

In this ear­lier post, I looked at three of the ‘old stand­bys’ that are likely to pro­vide gov­ern­ments with all the ‘wiggle-room’ they need to increase pro­tec­tion while remain­ing nom­i­nally com­pli­ant with their WTO obligations.

This time, two more oldies but good­ies that are still more likely, in my view, to fig­ure in the com­ing round of trade pro­tec­tion. These two threaten high lev­els of ‘tailor-made’ pro­tec­tion for firms that are strug­gling through the reces­sion, but they do so at the cost of lower lev­els of demand at home (so much for ‘stim­u­lus’!), increased pres­sure on com­peti­tors in other coun­tries and a fur­ther cut in world trade vol­umes. Bad for almost every­one.

At the end of this post I start to look at some defenses against the com­ing round of protection.

Case for due diligence in public policy

This is a great, if hor­ri­fy­ing, read. Bruce McCul­loch and Ross McK­itrick have com­piled a case-book of unsup­ported claims in sci­ence and public-policy research that com­ple­ments Gary Banks’ rec­om­men­da­tions on evidence-based pub­lic pol­icy.

Empir­i­cal research in aca­d­e­mic jour­nals is often cited as the basis for pub­lic pol­icy deci­sions, in part because peo­ple think that the jour­nals have checked the accu­racy of the research. Yet such work is rarely sub­jected to inde­pen­dent checks for accu­racy dur­ing the peer review process, and the data and com­pu­ta­tional meth­ods are so sel­dom dis­closed that post-publication ver­i­fi­ca­tion is equally rare. This study argues that researchers and jour­nals have allowed habits of secrecy to per­sist that severely inhibit inde­pen­dent repli­ca­tion. ” Extract from Check the Num­bers: The Case for Due Dili­gence in Pol­icy Formation

McCul­loch and McK­itrick have col­lab­o­rated on many projects to check the empir­i­cal basis for eco­nomic and sci­en­tific research. In this paper—to which Ian Cas­tles drew my atten­tion—they present a pow­er­ful case for tak­ing a skep­ti­cal, empir­i­cal approach to claims in jour­nals that appear to sup­port a con­ve­nient prej­u­dice (dogma, belief, impres­sion) or chal­lenge common-sense.

Among a dozen-or-so accounts of lazy, men­da­cious research they include an extra­or­di­nary story of the “Boston Fed Study” that con­tributed to the reg­u­la­tory fail­ures under­ly­ing the ‘sub-prime’ finan­cial mar­kets col­lapse in the United States.

The next round of trade protection

Change in employment compared to earlier recessionsChange in employment compared to earlier recessions

Will there be one? You bet! The only ques­tions are: how soon and how big?

With employ­ment num­bers in both indus­tri­al­ized and indus­tri­al­iz­ing coun­tries falling, world mar­kets seiz­ing up as a con­se­quence of the credit squeeze, icons of glob­al­iza­tion like Dubai bleed­ing debt (and emi­grants) and gov­ern­ments rush­ing out ‘stim­u­lus’ pack­ages to prop up domes­tic demand, the scene is set for some un-neighborly action at every inter­na­tional bor­der. Never mind that some of these “neg­a­tives” are likely to be part of the cre­ative destruc­tion that brings new ideas, new mar­ket entrants and, even­tu­ally, new growth.


p>Because this is <a href=“” title=“Peter Gal­lagher | World trade: it

Climate ‘tipping’ points fall down

If you’re alarmed by claims—sometimes from offi­cial sources—about CO2 from thaw­ing per­mafrost or cat­a­clysms caused by a slow­ing or rever­sal of the “Merid­ional Over­turn­ing Cir­cu­la­tion”, then relax!

It looks like nei­ther one nor the other of these exotic risks stands up to sci­en­tific scrutiny.