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Showing blog posts by Stan Sorscher

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Written in Secrecy, Could Cost U.S. Jobs

Photo via

Sometime this year, President Obama will ask Congress to approve a new trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

We should understand that the TPP has been negotiated in secrecy. More than 600 corporate lobbyists have had direct access to the negotiating texts. They serve as formal advisers in the negotiations and have constant communication with U.S. negotiators. Meanwhile, Congress and the public are unable to get or discuss copies of the deal.

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Why We're Still Fighting the Last War on Trade Policy

Figure 1. Are TPP and TTIP just the next two laps in the race to the bottom?

The other day, President Barack Obama spoke to 100 top CEOs from the Business Roundtable. He was asked about two huge new trade deals, favored by global companies, known as TPP and TTIP. The president taunted critics of our failing trade policy, telling them, "Stop fighting the last war."

That sounds patronizing. Is it true that companies trying to manufacture in America, workers, communities and environmentalists need the president to explain their interests to them, as if 25 years of lived experience with NAFTA-style trade deals haven't been sufficiently clear?

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WTO in Seattle—15 Years Ago

Photo by geraldford/Flickr Creative Commons

In November 1999, the World Trade Organization met in Seattle, where I live, to negotiate the terms of globalization.

I missed it.

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Bending the Arc of History

Bending the Arc of History

Many economists and policy makers struggle to explain growing inequality and the erosion of the middle class.

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has a simple explanation, "...corporations use their growing monopoly power to raise prices without passing the gains on to their employees."

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Where's the Boeing We Used to Know? Taking Lessons from Walmart?

Boeing's Everette, Wash., facility. JetStar photo/Flickr Creative Commons

Taxpayers around Washington State are trying to understand the Boeing Co.’s recent announcement of layoffs, just months after the legislature met in special session to grant $8.7 billion in tax preferences—the largest such deal in American history.

Our relationship with Boeing needs to change.

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Moral Authority in Globalization

I took part in a "fair trade" study session at a synagogue recently, looking at moral authority in the global economy. We considered four historical examples.

In Exodus, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, creating a new nation in the midst of established tribes and nations. After finding food and water, Moses gets excellent advice from his father-in-law, Jethro: Appoint judges.

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Lessons from 20 Years of NAFTA

Photo courtesy Border Explorer

The NAFTA model has failed.

When NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) took effect 20 years ago, we were promised mutual gain.

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Trade Agreements Reveal How Life Will Be Organized in 2050

The United States is negotiating two huge, problematic trade agreements—one with Europe (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), and another with countries around the Pacific (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Both dramatically extend the North American Free Trade Agreement model.

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The Trillion-Dollar Money Pump for the 1%

I saw the movie "Inequality for All," where Robert Reich explains the depth and meaning of inequality in America. He paints a compelling picture.

Reich sets up the movie with a teaser: "Something happened in the mid-'70s."

Indeed "something did happen in the mid-'70s." For one thing, since then workers' wages as a fraction of the total economy have lagged by more than a trillion dollars per year. If workers' wages had kept up with gains in productivity since the mid-70's, wages would be double what they are now. Most new income goes to the top 1%.

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The 4 (or 5) Worst Market Failures in Human History

I'm a capitalist for one reason: to raise living standards in my community. A familiar mantra of capitalism guides me: Markets are powerful and efficient.

I'm also a realist, so I temper that mantra: Markets are powerful and efficient. And markets fail.

Market failure is an established, well-understood field of study in mainstream economics. Generations of economists accept the basics of market failure.

However, American economists turn their heads away at the mention of it, because it sounds like heresy.

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