China Falters on Economic Liberalization

Is China’s economy more of a paper tiger than an Asian tiger?

Dan Mitchell:

Video on CNBC is embedded in there.

1. China’s economy is weak because of insufficient liberalization.

2. Trump’s unthinking protectionism hurts both sides, but China may be more vulnerable.

3. China’s cronyism presents a challenge for supporters of unilateral free trade.

4. Trump should have used the World Trade Organization to encourage Chinese liberalization.

5. The imperfect Trans-Pacific Partnership was an opportunity to pressure China to reduce cronyism.

6. Additional Chinese reform is the ideal outcome, both for China and the rest of the world.


Human Freedom Index of the World

Dan Mitchell:

The 2018 version has just been published, and, as you can see, New Zealand is the world’s most-libertarian nation, followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong. The United States is tied with Sweden for #17.

. . .

And that also is apparent on this map (darker is better). So maybe “western civilization” isn’t so bad after all.


Prez Trump: I am Tariff Man

President Trump:

….I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN

Tariffs are a tax paid by Americans on stuff they buy overseas, not the foreigners who are selling the stuff.

According to the President, the federal government is “taking in $billions”, but only because Americans are paying the tax. This is a total backfire on the Administration’s part.

As bad, there is no “raid”. The buying and selling is voluntary. Americans are deciding to buy from overseas. That is not a raid on the wealth of a nation.

Epic fail.

UPDATE: Dan Mitchell weighs in.

Macron caves in to French protesters – too late, they say

The French government caved in after Paris’ worst rioting in decades and delayed an increase in energy taxes Tuesday — but it was seen as “too little, too late” by many protesters whose anger seems increasingly focused on embattled President Emmanuel Macron.

The grievances widen:

The protests began Nov. 17 with motorists upset over the fuel tax increase, but have grown to encompass a range of complaints — the stagnant economy, social injustice and France’ tax system, one of the highest in Europe — and some now call for the government to resign. . . .

One unifying complaint among the leaderless protesters, who come from across the political and social spectrum, has been the anger at Macron and the perceived elitism of France’s aloof ruling class.

Me: taxes are the most visible expression of government control by greedy politicians and bureaucrats. But these same people are playing a con game. They convince the general population into thinking they are helping you by taxing and regulating some trumped up, anonymous, evil person or corporation. But, those same taxes and regulations come back to bite you because those regulations and taxes trickle down to you in the form of reduced choices and higher prices. This time, the French people caught on. But remember, regulations work the same way but are less visible, so don’t sign up for that. And, a tax on one is a tax on all.

Read it all.


Trade Deficit Deficits

Don Boudreaux corrects John Shaw in the Wall Street Journal in Capital is not a Fixed Amount and also Debra Summers: 

There is indeed such a guarantee (“that our trading partners won’t prioritize use of their trade profits to more effectively compete with the U.S. or for actions that otherwise jeopardize U.S. interests”). It exists chiefly because U.S. dollars have value only because they can be spent or invested in the U.S.


Caravan, Latin America, U.S.

Benny Avni:

The region’s left, meanwhile, is in retreat. Top powerhouses Argentina and Brazil have voted out long-entrenched socialist leaders. Now AMLO, a career red-banner waver, will lead Mexico, but he’ll start out with a crisis that could mar his six years in power — or force him to America’s arms.

The people supporting the caravan should be trying to reform the governments and economies in Latin America rather than trying to get the citizens of those countries to flee to the U.S or worse, trying to impose the misery here. The U.S. has interfered with the policies in those countries. Nonetheless, it can improve its relations with those countries.