The above title is from an article in the WSJ by Alan S. Blinder. He states five truths. 1. Most job losses are not due to international trade. (Five million jobs are created and lost each MONTH. Mostly a net gain. Trade is a minor part of this volume) 2. Trade is about efficiency-and hence wages-than about the number of jobs. (When items can be made more efficiently elsewhere there is disruption and change in our labor structure. Instead of resisting it and losing in the long run, we should prepare for it so to take advantage of the change, not yell about it). 3&4. Bi Lateral trade imbalances are inevitable and mostly uninteresting. He states trade deficits mean nothing if our economy is growing, we were mercantilist for well over a 100 years. 5. Trade agreements barely affect a nations’ trade balance. (He states that populist talk from Trump, Sanders and Clinton is just that,not based on fact.)
Without healthy trade deals we would pay more for the stuff we consume every day, impacting the less well off significantly. We can’t make T Shirts cheaper than Vietnam. Do we need fair trade deals, certainly, whatever than means. Should we do a better job of assisting workers affected by trade, certainly-Congress and administrations from both parties have not done well here.
But to color international trade as bad is just plain stupid.
An Update, The weekly Investors’ Business Daily had an editorial on the same subject, “A Lost Chance On Free Trade” on May 16th also echoing the above but also citing a YouGov.com survey that shows the largest support for global trade is among millennials, 48%. The older you are the less support you give for trade, I think supporting the argument that trade is good, but the support for those affected must be reasonable.