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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I disagree with Atrios and Matthew Yglesias

They agree that a 27.5% tariff on Chinese goods would be strictly better for the USA than a devaluation of the Yuan (although they do not agree on the corrrect spellling of Tarrrifff).

This position is based on an utter dismissal of the common view of trade policy that views it as a strange mirror image of trade in which countries exchange removal of trade barriers. Yhis common view is seriously silly, but it is has a powerful effect on the world economy. Convincing the Chinese to revalue by threatening tariffs would differ from tariffs in two ways. Directly it would be strictly worse for the USA as noted by Atrios.
Second it would disguise the US violation of free trade norms.

This second effect is likely to be very important, and both Black and Yglesias know that it is. They are strategically omitting discussion of WTO penalties and the possible collapse of the WTO system, if the USA openly imposes tariffs and does not even allow other countries to pretend to believe that the USA it is pretending to play by the rules. Dingbat kabuki indeed, but dingbat kabuki which is very important for world prosperity.

Aside from this minor rhetorical sleight of hand, the two are brilliant as usual.

Now Matt I think it's time for a serious talk. It is clear that you know you are (among other things) an economist. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but you are going to have to decide something -- When are you going to tell your parents ?

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