Ian Fletcher is a God Damn, *%$$%&*()!!* PROTECTIONIST. In his book Free Trade Doesn't Work, he makes no bones about promoting the T word, tariffs, as his solution for the United States trade deficit and job hemorrhage.
I've been hesitating in writing a review of Free Trade Doesn't Work, by Ian Fletcher, simply because I disagree with some elements in the book. Still, The Economic Populists who scream tariffs as a solution to our massive trade deficit will probably agree with Mr. Fletcher. By the book title alone, Fletcher is lookin' fer a fight. Pickin' one and takin' on the free traitors, that alone is good enough reason to love the book. Even more, Fletcher describes a hell of a lot of trade details, including the history of U.S. trade, with accuracy. The book isn't just a U.S. trade policy sucks diatribe, it's one with a lot of statistics and details to back up the case. Facts you ain't gonna read about in the New York Times either. To the main points:
Firstly while Mr. Fletcher claims Ricardo's Comparative Advantage is wrong, which I disagree with, he points out a host of assumptions which are ignored in the theory to make a trading relationship be a benefit to both countries.
Considering the religiosity we have of the free traitors rambling on about Ricardo (when they probably did not pass Algebra), it's nice to see all of the assumptions and variables amplified. Bad math isn't just equations, it is applying equations when the conditions are simply not valid that the model assumes.
Secondly, Fletcher has read Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests, which is an exceptional work on trade theory and also has a math head part and a verbal explanation part. Now I disagree with his suggestion that Gomory & Baumol strategic trade implications wouldn't work due to multinational corporations being Benedict Arnolds. The reason I disagree is because Gomory himself has pushed and testified for a change in corporate governance and executive compensation in order to align U.S. corporations to the national economic interest. The flaw in strategic trade is real which Fletcher has found: multinational corporations are little sociopathic beasts, hunting the globe, loyal to no one and nothing. Yet we need a hell of a lot more solutions than just trade policy reform alone to solve the U.S. job, middle class and economic bloodletting.
If you want a bible thumpin' (on the economics front that is) Populist rant on trade, one might just give you some guts to stand up to that jerky guy with the fictional statistics & graphs, you should read this book. Try as we might, it seems those facts, which are front loaded in this book, such as the United States trade deficit, (uh, we're obviously not winning here!) are just ignored or dismissed with fictional graph-o-rama. Most of the detailed information in the book is accurate and almost never mentioned, such as the lack of positive returns for many economies on trade, especially when one looks at the workers.
That is a fundamental question here, isn't a national economy for the benefit of the nation, in other words the workforce too and not for just a few powerful multinational corporations who happen to do business there?
There is much argument against Fletcher's solution, a flat tariff across the board, national. I believe national tariff will not work either and prefer a government trade agency that cannot be corrupted, loaded with computer models, equations, complete with an altruistic, Academically pure, bunch of eggheads, sworn to uphold the national interest; an economic war room if you will.
That said, Fletcher's point that lobbyists will get into that room come hell or high water, muck it all up and probably make things worse for the U.S. workforce and the national economy has been proved true on almost every legislative and policy effort to date. Lobbyists love abstruse, convoluted things, so many dark corners, so many places to hide loopholes and agendas.
A website for the book with more information, including taking on CATO is available here. This Huffington Post online debate is so amusing. Bernstein claims Armageddon will happen if we dare reform U.S. trade policy.
Even small tariff increases often lead to trade wars, and that trade wars can end in Armageddon.
If that is so, how come Armageddon hasn't already happened? Anyone look at China's tariff schedule or their average tariff being 9.8% lately?
Come on, check out the book.