Monthly Archives: June 2009

Is the U.S.A. really warming?

An examination of the evidence using the U.S. government’s own records. The Australian BOM ‘adjustments’ are similarly large.

“The corrected data from NOAA has been used as evidence of anthropogenic global warming yet it would appear that the rising trend over the 20th century is largely if not entirely an artefact arising from the ‘corrections’ applied to the experimental data, at least in the US, and is not visible in the uncorrected experimental data record.” Extract from Jennifer Marohasy

Let’s hope this means more clarity

Trade ministers in Paris for the June OECD meetings are looking for Lamy’s ‘second track‘ to a Doha deal.

“U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called for a new approach to the Doha talks, involving direct negotiations with key trading partners as the traditional multilateral format was not working…’We think getting more clarity around that [‘exactly what the U.S. would gain’] may be the key to helping us find a solution to a way forward,’ Kirk said after a meeting of ministers at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).” Extract from Reuters via

Lamy did not mean—as this news report suggests—that the ‘second track’ would be series of bilateral deals. That’s a long-standing U.S. fallback position (from the days of GATT), but I doubt Kirk had that in mind either. Here’s the official account of what he said.

By the way, isn’t it great to see that USTR has finally dumped that crappy old web-site and has adopted the much more accessible Obama-Whitehouse (or, maybe, Vivek Kundra) style?

Manufacturing copyright ‘consensus’

The path to copyright consensus in Canada

A fascinating analysis of a ‘coalition of interest’ at work—strategies often alleged but rarely detailed with such clarity.

Geist shows how three Canadian entertainment industry organizations have manufactured the appearance of widening concern over copyright piracy and growing evidence of its impact.

“It is not just that these reports all receive financial support from the same organizations and say largely the same thing.  It is also that the reports each build on one another, creating the false impression of growing momentum and consensus on the state of Canadian law and the need for specific reforms” Extract from Michael Geist

Geist notes that experienced politicians seem to understand what’s going on here. That’s to be expected: this is nothing more than an elaborate, effective and, in the scheme of things, acceptable lobbying strategy.

But that knowledge doesn’t shield polticians—or the public debate—from the misrepresentation of either the data or the ‘consensus’ unless the insight is widely shared. Few make the effort that Geist has made to evaluate either.

Opening food markets in a CM agreement

Breughel Banquet

The immediate net global gains from a ‘Critical Mass’ (CM) trade agreement to open markets for some 30 products in 38 of the world’s largest markets would be about $10 billion. World trade in these products would expand by a third with most of the export gains won by developing countries.

This is the third post in a series of five intended to share with you the results of some simulations of an alternate approach to reducing harmful levels of protection in world food markets. The Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations has got itself into a terrible tangle over that goal, becoming “a knotty mass of rules for cutting barriers, rules for compensating the barrier cuts, rules for making exceptions to the barrier cuts, and provisions adding exceptions to the exceptions.”

The simulated CM agreement I describe in this post has a more limited product and country coverage than the proposed Doha Round. But—in the next post—I’ll compare it to a projection of the Doha Round deal using the same economic model. I think you’ll be surprised by how well it stands up.

A Critical Mass Agreement on cereals trade


In this post I’ll describe the simulated impacts of a Critical Mass (CM) trade liberalization agreement on global trade in cereals. This is the second of five posts about some simulations I’ve created to investigate whether CM agreements could be an alternative to the standard WTO approach to opening up world markets for agriculture.

The bottom line: an improvement in global welfare of between $3.4 billion and $5.5 billion ($US 2006) depending on how the CM agreement is configured. ‘Global welfare’ means, roughly, the sum of changes (positive or negative) in three asset classes: producer revenues, government taxes and value for consumers. A surprising result is that India turns out to be one of the biggest winners in terms of net trade flows (excess of exports) whether it participates in the agreement or not, but its welfare gains are small because producers’ gains are all but offset by consumers’ losses.

I’ll look at the results of the cereals CM agreement, first. At the end of this post I’ll describe the advantages and limits of the ATPSM model that I’ve also used to simulate liberalization of a much broader range of commodities. More about the bigger results in later posts along with some ideas about how you can use the ATPSM model to create your own simulations.

Investment barriers stuff-up China relations

No one I know seriously questions the importance of China to Australia’s external balances, especially now in the trough of a recession. Nor can we have any doubts about China’s growing political, cultural and ‘strategic’ importance for us and our region of the world. So why would a government led by sinophile make such a terrible, embarrassing, stuff-up of its response to a proposal from a top Chinese resources company to deepen our commercial relationship?

John Garnaut bluntly explains in today’s Fairfax press what a hamfisted, mis-aimed blow the denial-by-delay in the Chinalco-Rio case has dealt our relations with the Chinese government and top Chinese commercial management. How wooden-headed and inept is our commercial diplomacy to give the impression that Australia disdains commercial integration with China when our official objective—and our real, considered objective, I’m confident—is absolutely the converse?

Considering both the tiny trickle of Chinese investment flows (below) to Australia and the top priority that China has in our foreign policy, this error-of-omission beggars belief.

Modeling ‘critical mass’ trade agreements


In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been modeling the economic impacts of an alternative way to open up world agricultural markets using ‘critical mass‘trade agreements.

I thought I would share some of the results of the modeling with you, here on my website, over the next couple of weeks.

The simulations run inside the trade model suggest that there would be huge wins from adopting a new, more practical approach to the knotty old problem of opening up food markets that has so far stymied WTO. But the economic gains are not necessarily where you might expect to find them and they raise some questions about the likely interests of the giant emerging economies of India and China.

Also, I thought you might like to learn how to make your own economic model of changes in world agricultural trade trade policies, even if—like me—you don’t have the data or the mathematical background that modern economic models require. I’ll show you how I went about building a model of the impacts of the proposed Doha Round agreement on world trade in agriculture.