Trump and Biden Both Get Globalization Wrong

“trade doesn’t need to balance. I have a trade deficit with my supermarket. They get more of my money every year. So, what? I don’t “lose.” I get food without having to grow it myself.
That’s a win for me and the food producer regardless of whether the food was grown locally or came from Mexico.

“Imports are great,” says Lincicome. “It means I can focus on what I want to do for a living and not go make my own food or make my own clothes. I can use those savings and buy other things that makes me better off.”

As long as trade is voluntary, trade is a win for both parties. It has to be; neither side would agree to it unless they think they get something out of the deal.”

“Manufacturing output in the U.S. is near its all-time high. We make more than Japan, Germany, India, and South Korea combined.”

https://reason.com/2024/04/03/trump-and-biden-both-get-globalization-wrong/

Politicians Are Showering Manufacturing Companies With Crony Subsidies for ‘Job Creation.’ It Won’t Work.

“Even if these subsidies were to create a manufacturing boom, it probably wouldn’t lead to an employment boom because most manufacturing output today is produced by robots.”

https://reason.com/2024/04/04/politicians-are-showering-manufacturing-companies-with-crony-subsidies-for-job-creation-it-wont-work/

Biden is sending $61 billion to Ukraine. Much of it will pass through the US economy first.

“Washington is spending another $61 billion to help Ukraine. But most of the money will flow through the US economy first.
The new law will allow the Pentagon to send existing weapons — everything from bullets to missiles to tank parts — to Kyiv and then simultaneously backfill that inventory with new manufacturing efforts for US armories.

There are 117 production lines in about 71 US cities that are set to produce those weapons systems, according to research from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).”

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-is-sending-61-billion-to-ukraine-much-of-it-will-pass-through-the-us-economy-first-162914531.html

Marco Rubio Is Wrong About Industrial Policy

“Rubio doesn’t even get through the first paragraph of the piece before making a significant error. “Today,” he writes, Congress no longer views industrial policy with the same skepticism that it once did, but “what replaces unfettered free trade remains hotly debated.”
Unfettered free trade? That’s hardly an accurate description of the current status quo in the United States—a fact that Rubio surely knows, since Florida’s sugar and fruit industries are the beneficiaries of some of the most aggressive protectionist policies on the books. Even before former President Donald Trump ramped up the use of tariffs, America had more protectionist policies than other large, developed economies: A 2015 report from Credit Suisse called the United States the world’s most protectionist developed nation.

Rubio’s inability to describe the current status quo matters. It’s a failure of the ideological Turing Test, and it reveals that he misunderstands the economic policies he’s trying to shift—or that he is deliberately misinforming readers about them. Either way, this ought to call the rest of his claims into question.

Unfortunately, that’s far from the only mistake in the piece.”

https://reason.com/2024/04/04/marco-rubio-is-wrong-about-industrial-policy/

Industrial Policy Isn’t About Creating Jobs

“Government favoritism in the form of subsidies, tariffs, and other interventions allocates resources (labor and capital) differently than the way resources are allocated by consumers spending their own money. Ordinarily, businesses—spending their investors’ money—compete for these consumer dollars. Industrial policy rests on the assumption that such market outcomes don’t adequately support higher causes such as national security. If that’s true, it’s all the justification industrial policy needs. Nothing needs to be said about jobs.”

“As Noah Smith reminded his readers in a recent blog post, “Most of the actual production work will be done by robots, because we are a rich country with very high labor costs and lots of abundant capital and technology. Automated manufacturing is what we specialize in, not labor-intensive manufacturing.””

“Be wary of those who push industrial policy as a means of job creation. It’s a short-sighted approach that distracts us from the more important question, which is whether hindering the market allocation of resources is truly justified for national security or other valid reasons.”

The origins of Biden’s most important policy, explained

“At its heart, industrial policy strives to solve a “classic Keynesian political problem,” says economic historian Yakov Feygin, director of the Berggruen Institute’s Future of Capitalism program: The only way to grow the economy is ultimately through productivity-enhancing investment — but there are enormous upfront costs to building new plants or buying new equipment, especially at the technological bleeding edge, while returns are years in the future if they ever come at all.
If only capitalists get to decide when to invest, they may — rightfully — decide that the unpredictability of future demand and credit conditions make it difficult to justify expanding capacity in crucial sectors even in the face of soaring prices. They fear the “bullwhip effect,” where investors may put up cash for new plants or equipment to respond to higher prices, only for those prices to fall before new production can actually come online.”

“The government, for better or worse, has the unique ability to stabilize the investment cycle and goad risk-averse private capital into making desperately needed, but enormously costly, long-term investments.”

“Biden’s economic team is betting on something Hamilton knew: Long-term investment in the real economy is essential, but private investors might not provide it. That’s where government can — and should — step in.”

Biden’s ‘Economic Plan’ Is Industrial Policy That Will Be Terrible for Workers and Consumers

“Biden’s industrial policy is, not surprisingly, far more expansive than Trump’s. And unlike the Foxconn facility, which was subsidized by the state of Wisconsin, it has been bolstered by major legislation from Congress. Biden’s industrial policy rests primarily on three pieces of legislation: the bipartisan infrastructure law signed in 2021, and the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act signed last year. Together, this trio of bills provided hundreds of billions in subsidies, tax breaks, and inducements for domestic manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on semiconductor production and clean energy and transportation.
But these subsidies are already being used as vehicles to pursue unrelated goals: The Commerce Department, for example, recently announced that companies receiving subsidies from the CHIPS Act would have to provide child care for their workers.

In addition, the rules say beneficiaries should try to use union labor and pay union wages to construction workers. Biden, of course, is a self-described “union man,” but these provisions will inevitably drive up costs and make it more difficult to find suitable workers, since, as Cato Institute scholar Scott Lincicome has noted, only about 12 percent of U.S. construction workers are unionized.

Similarly, Biden’s infrastructure plans have been stymied by a requirement to “buy American,” since many of the products needed to build domestic infrastructure are no longer made in the United States.

Domestic production requirements have proven more than a headache for builders. When a Michigan baby formula plant stopped production last year following a bacterial infection, Americans struggled to find a replacement because federal rules make it nearly impossible to import baby formula from Europe. At best, “buy American” requirements raise costs. At worst, they put American lives at risk by making vital goods more difficult to procure in emergencies.”

“As a bevy of experts from the Cato Institute point out in the recent book Empowering the New American Worker, policy makers should pursue policies that make employment more flexible—like remote work and gig employment, rather than make it more rigidly defined. And they should recognize that factory jobs are not the best or only path for non-college graduates: Retail managers increasingly command six-figure salaries. Occupational licensing laws that require dozens or hundreds of hours of training before certification to work in a profession have mostly served as barriers to entry for aspiring professionals. Eliminating state licensing boards and licensing types can go a long way to making the work force more accessible. Ending the Jones Act, meanwhile, would not only lower prices for American households: It would also mean the end of regulation-driven shipping emergencies like the one in Puerto Rico.”