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.
Twenty years later and what have we learned from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? Nearly 700,000 U.S. jobs have been lost or displaced, union density in the United States, Mexico and Canada fell and income inequality has increased. The AFL-CIO's new report, NAFTA at 20, discusses how current U.S. trade policy has failed to raise wages, improve social standards or address inequality—and what needs to change to ensure that future trade agreements actually work for working people.
Some observers have declared that the United States has reached a full recovery after the Great Recession because per capita GDP growth has rebounded to pre-recession levels. But in a thorough essay at the Economic Policy Institute, Josh Bivens argues that the logic is highly flawed and that we're far from a full recovery. He also provides several policy suggestions that would get us much closer to that elusive full recovery and on the path to raising wages.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and Media Matters have released important research about the economy in the past few weeks. Here's a look at some of the key pieces they have uncovered about the U.S. economy.
In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). America's workers have felt the consequences ever since.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute examines the primary result in the United States of China's entry into the WTO, a massive increase in the trade deficit between the two countries, favoring China. The report's author, Robert E. Scott, concludes that the trade deficit with China drives down wages and benefits in the United States and eliminates good jobs for U.S. workers.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a statement today announcing support for the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013 and its companion legislation in the House, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2013. Trumka warned that currency manipulation by foreign governments leads to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.
Signing more trade deals (also known as FTAs) as a way to create jobs? Meh. Seems unlikely, unless there is a radical change to the current trade model. The current model does much more than reduce tariffs (tariffs are taxes on imports). It also puts in place a bunch of rules that have made it advantageous for employers to move jobs offshore—resulting in unemployment, wage suppression and reduced union bargaining power.