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    small favors..., 2005-04-14 08:22:06 | Main | There was, a while back, some ..., 2005-04-14 10:15:45

    February 05 Financial Times:

    Roughly one-third of the current account deficit results from U.S.-owned subsidiaries abroad. ... Any net negative impact on the trade balance caused by foreign affiliates is more of an accounting anomaly than a cause for economic concern. Methods for measuring the current account date back to the 1940s, when few companies had operations outside their home countries. Today, many companies have established subsidiaries abroad to tap new markets and take advantage of lower labour costs. Trade accounting methods have not kept pace with these changes: goods bought from U.S. foreign affiliates count as imports on the current account, even though American companies produce them. ... Sales through U.S. foreign affiliates abroad have topped $2,900 billions, roughly three times the value of U.S. exports. These sales generated $134 billions in income for their U.S. parent companies in 2002, and added nearly $3,000 billions to their market capitalisation. ... In 2004, worldwide foreign direct investment flows topped $600 billions, a record. Much of it went to emerging markets, where labour or land costs are one-tenth of those in the U.S. Even a significant fall in the value of the dollar is unlikely to affect this.

    I was wondering about that. So a third of it doesn't really represent trade in any meaningful sense and much of the rest of it is financial transactions - loans and debt - which isn't really trade either. Then they argue that as much of it is mere legal fiction we shouldn't really sweat about it. I guess. [update] People sweat legal fictions all the time, as Cosma just emailed to remind me, so this would be a good time to start sweating over a subject on which I defer to weisbrot. [/update]

    They make the usual neoliberal prescriptions after only barely weighing the impact on American workers, "Workers displaced by trade and offshoring should be given expanded benefits and job retraining, and more Americans should have a stake in corporate returns" rather than resort to "protectionist legislation", which is all the "free trade" agreements are, thousands of pages of protectionist legislation, only they're protecting investor interests, not American interests, which is why we'll need to be sent to re-education camps retraining programs.

    update: I'm watching Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) on C-SPAN, who seems to trying to squeeze through an expansion of the H1B visa with an ammendment to the supplimental spending bill for our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's apparently of the mind that to fill tourism industry positions Vermont needs greater access to foreigners with highly specialized skill sets such that no American can be found to fill the job. Absurd. H1Bs are overwhelmingly used to fill IT positions with poorly paid indentured servants, etc. etc..

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-04-14 09:39:43 CST | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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