If Economists Were to Write the News Stories About Trade

Mark Perry posted an amusing re-write of a Washington Post article on trade protection, crossing out sentences from the Post and replacing it in bold with how an economist would convey the ideas:

WASHINGTON POST (Reuters) – A U.S. trade panel gave final approval on Wednesday to duties taxes ranging from 10 to 16 percent on cost-conscious firms in the U.S. who purchase low-priced Chinese-made steel pipe rather than high-price domestic pipe, in the biggest U.S. trade case to date against China American companies (and their shareholders, employees, and customers) who shop globally for their inputs and find the best value in China.

Companies in Tthe U.S. imported searching worldwide for the best value purchased $2.74 billion of low-priced “oil country tubular goods” from China in 2008, more than triple the previous year, as a surge in oil prices led to increased demand for the oil well tubing and casing.

Buoyed by success against American steel-using companies and their employees in the tubing case, the Steelworkers union and a number of companies are filing a new petition on Wednesday asking for anti-dumping and countervailing duties taxes on American companies, their employees, and customers that purchase drill pipe used to drill oil wells.

U.S. companies and unions brought about a dozen trade cases in 2009 against American industries that shopped globally and decided to purchase cheap goods from China rather than expensive goods from domestic producers, alleging overly generous government subsidies from the Chinese people and unfair pricing practices that directly benefited American steel-using companies and their employees, and ultimately benefited U.S. consumers with lower prices.

President Barack Obama also angered Beijing in September by slapping a 35 percent duty tax on thrifty, cost-conscious middle- and lower-class American consumers who willingly bought imports of about $1.85 billion of inexpensive Chinese-made tires. The United Steelworkers union, which was the driving force behind the tires case, joined with Maverick Tube Corp, United States Steel Corp and other U.S. manufacturers in asking for import duties taxes on American companies (and their employees, shareholders, and customers) that decide to purchase low-priced Chinese-made pipe rather than high-priced domestic pipe.

Elsewhere, The Economist had a good piece on tariffs and trade awhile back. It asked Americans who support trade taxes and protectionism, if they are so terrific, why stop at national borders? Why not tax imports from other states within the U.S.? Why don't we make each state in the U.S. self-sufficient?

Here's an article arguing against "energy independence."

4 Responses to If Economists Were to Write the News Stories About Trade

  1. Bill Goodwin says:

    Just reread Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson and Perry echoes the best points. If only there were some way to work in the fact that low prices for consumers = more spending on other goods, ergo no net job loss, but more efficient allocation of capital and resources.

  2. States would tax “imports” from other states if not for the commerce clause.

  3. I love this post!

    The worst are the farm subsidies. Governments essentially pay farmers to overproduce while blocking agricultural products from developing countries. This is hurting the poorest people in the world.

  4. Debra says:

    Ah. And the beauty of healthcare for this crowd is it can never be shopped outside US borders. yikes.

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