Wednesday, March 03, 2004

how remiss of me: i've left out the Drudge Report from my links sidebar. the situation has now been rectified. just in time for Super Tuesday, too. in other random news, i received my first birthday card today, from claire =) it was a nice surprse and it has a princess kitty on the front cover. -grin- i love it.

my LRS paper on free trade was sort of kind of torn apart in critique session today, and deservedly so, i think. clearly i'm not convinced enough of the arguments behind free trade to be able to persuade some entrenched anti-free-trader to switch over to my side. my only hope is to get the guys who are closet-free-traders. =) it doesn't help that duncan pointed out to us in class today that despite the seductive elegance of free trade theory, which almost compells us against our will to believe in it with all our hearts, the empirical evidence for said benefits is sort of weak. i blame that on the fact that our version of free trade in no way reflects the kind of free trade that trade theory/comparative advantage talks about. (transportation costs, though low, still exist. and barriers to trade exist everywhere, in the most entrenched industries, but also the industries that we could benefit most from removing trade barriers in. agriculture, for one.)

that said, sarah K helpfully pointed out that i needed a more concrete example of free trade, like 'children being able to have shoes that fit at prices their parents can afford'; and keren's pointing out that 'we don't really want to be paying 40,000 dollars for a crappy car' (to which i almost responded 'yes! i do! because...because that's not really that expensive to me!' but my ideas about car prices are seriously warped by the COEs) so the argument is going to get a radical makeover sometime between now and next monday.

(1) put an anecdote about how somebody somewhere got something he otherwise wouldn't have because of free trade in the introduction (thanks again to sarah k);
(2) put concrete made-up examples about the benefits of free trade to 'real' people in my comparative advantage, while simultaneously pulling out the theory-hat and talking about 'diffuse cost/concentrated benefit' being the reason we have labour unions campaigning to keep the american car firms in business.

on the other hand, looking at information helpfully summarised and pointed out on Dan. Drezner's blog, it might well be that trade policy is taking an entirely new direction with the rise of NAFTA. i do believe that NAFTA rules will only allow goods that are (some large percentage) made in a NAFTA country to be traded customs-free within NAFTA. the Japanese car companies have a simple solution to that: set up shop in detriot. if my memory doesn't fail me, the numbers i looked at over the summer at the Fed seem to suggest that the Japanese car companies are rapidly expanding in the domestic market and they are still making better, cheaper cars here despite the higher cost of labour. now why did i decide to talk about that?

(3) take out the whole human rights violations argument, and point out instead that some of the major objections we have like CEOs making outrageous bonuses and MNCs making enormous profits can be addressed ways other than cutting off their access to cheaper labour markets. i'm not sure how. perhaps i'll just have to point out that it's just another way free trade makes everyone better off --after all, the theory doesn't suggest that everyone will gain the same amount, only that the sum total of good stuff in the world will increase. it says nothing about distribution of gains. (oh damn, does this make it yet another tiresome relative gains problem? goddamit!)

(note to self: figure out how trackback works, since you have it on the page already)

now i'm hungry again, so it's time to -once again- fix myself something to eat. oh! and i won another free iTune in today's diet pepsi. (without cheating, i might add -looks at adrian- looks like my luck is improving) and i also noticed that the coolers in the B-school cafe hold the 20oz bottles of bothCoke and Pepsi. i thought that wasn't allowed?

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