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.