Sunday, February 10, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No introduction, other than to note that I hadn't planned on including anything on the Ilhan Omar controversy, mostly because I still haven't bothered to track down what she said and/or apologized for. I'm pretty careful to make sure that nothing I say that's critical of Israel can be misconstrued as anti-semitic, but that canard is used so often (and so indiscriminately) by Israel's hasbarists that it feels like a waste of time to even credit the complaints.

One more note is that I expected to find more on the record-setting 2018 trade deficit, but all I came up with was the Paul Krugman post below, where the main point is that Trump is stupid, specifically on trade and tariffs but actually on pretty much everything. Krugman's explanation that trade deficits reflect a savings shortfall doesn't really tell me much. As best I can understand it, deficits are a means by which wealth transfers from consumers to the rich -- primarily the foreign rich, but much of that money comes back to domestic rich for investments and sales of inflated assets. I remember some years ago William Greider proposed a blanket, across-the-board tax on imports aimed at restoring a trade balance -- evidently such a thing is OK under WTO rules, and it would get around the balloon problem Krugman refers to -- but I've never heard about it since. Strikes me as a good idea (although I'm not sure how it would interact with exchange rates).

Also thought a bit about writing an op-ed on Trump and Korea. Specifically, I wanted to pose a rhetorical question to Trump, to ask him why he lets people like John Bolton undermine his chances for forging a signature world peace deal, and securing a legacy as something other than, well, you know, a demagogue and a crook.

Some scattered links this week:

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