Trade practices designed to discourage imports
Where the United States and global trade are heading
The U.S. is the world’s largest open economy and pillar of the global trading system. Yet its economic challenges today – government debt, wealth inequality, and labor force participation – cannot be reliably addressed through more open trade. One should therefore expect more U.S. steps to change the terms of trade and pressure leading exporters over the next two years.
Trump’s trade war is poised for a Pyrrhic victory
The flip side of the Trump administration’s drive to reduce the U.S. foreign trade deficit is that it will leave the rest of the world with fewer dollars to finance its budget deficit. President Trump could cut spending drastically or persuade the Federal Reserve to buy more bonds, but neither seems likely. More probably, he will do nothing as domestic rates rise and the dollar strengthens – widening the trade deficit again.
2018 Global Outlook: World trade
After a surprisingly good 2017, world trade should do even better this year. But that doesn’t mean that Europe and the United States can afford to be passive. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which will turn most of Asia into a privileged trade zone, demands a choice – either join the initiative or promote free trade outside it. For now, the West is doing neither.
2018 Global Outlook: The Trump presidency, Year Two
After a year in the White House, Donald Trump is suffering as much from his own erratic personality as from the burden of office. Foreign policy in the traditional, institutional sense has ceased to exist, and the way the president and Congress operate suggests there will be little room for maneouver once domestic troubles start to mount. Miscalculation and overreaction become increasingly likely as the global arena grows more precarious.
Limits on posting workers create Europe’s high-cost cartels
European Union labor ministers have just agreed to a proposal that could see more protectionist measures implemented across the bloc. The new rules would limit employers’ flexibility how much they pay “posted” workers – employees from a different EU member state. Until now, posting workers added needed competition to the labor market. Eliminating that option just protects high-cost cartels created by EU states with excessive cost structures.
India and Germany draw closer
India and Germany may seem like an odd couple. But a recent flurry of diplomatic consultations suggest that the two countries may be beginning to form a strategic relationship. What animates them is a belief that second-tier powers need to work more closely together to shore up an international order threatened by an assertive China and a whimsical United States.
Protectionism undermines European principles
Emmanuel Macron came to office promising to liberalize the French economy and reduce the role of the state. But his government is already turning protectionist, threatening to “temporarily nationalize” a shipyard. The move undermines European and liberal principles.
Outlook improves for Latin American economies
The economic news coming out of Latin America is finally somewhat positive. Stagnation seems to be turning into growth. However, most of this is due to a recovery in commodity prices. Underlying structural problems, especially inequality, persist. Sustainable economic growth in the coming years will require smart domestic policy choices and lowering barriers to intra-regional trade.
The bubble that does not burst
Many commentators have warned of the imminent bursting of the stock bubble. But while loose monetary policy and economic stability have inflated equity prices, it will take a shock to initiate a crash – and such a shock does not look likely. The prime candidates are a sudden burst of inflation, a Chinese crash or a European crisis triggered by Italy’s public finances. Absent these, one might expect occasional price dips, but no collapse.