Guest Contribution: “You don’t miss international cooperation until it’s gone”

Today, we present a guest post written by Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy  School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. A shorter version appeared at Project Syndicate .

As Joni Mitchell sang, “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”   Classroom education was often deemed boring by students and obsolete by tech visionaries.  Then the coronavirus made it difficult or impossible to meet in person.  The result:  We yearn for the irreplaceable in-class experience.

Perhaps the same is true of international economic cooperation. It was never especially popular. The theory, first formulated in a 1969 paper by Richard Cooper, said that countries could agree to coordinated bargains that achieved better outcomes, relative to the “Nash non-cooperative equilibrium.”  But economists thought of plenty of reasons  to be skeptical.  The multilateral institutions of cooperation such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations agencies, were downright unpopular among the public.  Many Americans regarded them as invading US sovereignty, while other countries viewed them as an invasion of their sovereignty by the US.

Then Donald Trump came along and made international cooperation difficult or impossible. It showed. During the November 21-22 G-20 summit of world leaders, when the others were discussing pandemic preparedness, Mr. Trump was evidently tweeting more of his fantasy accusations of election fraud and then went off to play golf.

When he is dragged out of the White House in January 2021, kicking and screaming, there will be an urgent list of international issues crying out for attention, requiring US re-engagement and a cranking up of the machinery that the 195 sovereign states of the world use to work together.  Top items on the list include global public health — most urgently, the coronavirus pandemic; global environmental issues — most importantly, climate change; and the global recession — requiring joint stimulus among advanced countries and joint arrangements for addressing the unsustainable debts with which the pandemic is saddling many Emerging Market and Developing Economies.

Although President-elect Joe Biden did not campaign on international cooperation per se – presidential candidates never do – he has pledged that, immediately upon taking office, he will reverse two of Trump’s monumentally short-sighted decisions: US withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO) and US withdrawal from the Paris agreement on global climate change.


Contagious disease is the classic example of an externality, a problem that individual citizens can’t adequately address on their own.  Assume for simplicity that individuals hear and trust the advice of the relevant scientific experts.  But assume also that they are motivated largely by self-interest and at best only partly by altruism.  In that case, they have an incentive to protect themselves, but little incentive to protect others, e.g., by mask-wearing and social distancing. The benefit to society of fighting the affliction – whether through vaccination, treatment, or isolation – exceeds the benefit to the individual.  Public health is a public good. Hence the need for government agencies like the CDC and measures like shutting down bars or banning large indoor gatherings.

Internationally contagious diseases, such as the present pandemic, are a classic example of an international externality, which individual governments can’t adequately address on their own. The contagion crosses national boundaries.  Responses that are far more effectively carried out via international cooperation (as opposed to “every country for itself”) include investigation of local outbreaks and warning of global dangers; coordinated research, development, production, and distribution of vaccines or treatments; and agreed procedures for restricting or quarantining cross-border travelers.

The WHO is not perfect.  But it would have been nuts for the US to withdraw, especially at a time when the UN agency is most obviously needed.

Climate change

Analogously, environmental degradation is a classic externality, a case of market failure, in that those who pollute don’t pay a market price for the harm done to others.  It thus calls for government action.

Global climate change is the classic global externality. A ton of carbon emitted into the air has the same greenhouse effect everywhere regardless where in the world it is emitted.  Regulation at the national level cannot by itself correct the misalignment of incentives, because of the free-rider problem across governments.  Hence the need for an international agreement like the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Macroeconomic stimulus

The pandemic of 2020 led to the deepest global recession since the 1930s.  The IMF projects a 4.4 % drop in global income for the year.  Beyond measures to address the pandemic itself, what is most needed in advanced countries is joint fiscal stimulus.  Precedents include the Bonn Summit of G-7 Leaders in 1978, during the recovery from the recession of 1974-1975, and the 2009 G-20 meetings under the leadership of British PM Gordon Brown, during the Great Recession.   The argument for coordinated fiscal expansion consists of more than the obvious observation that the effect on global economic activity will be bigger if many countries enact stimulus than if just a few do.  The argument is (i) a recognition that countries worry about their trade balances, not just their levels of output and employment, (ii) the logic that when each country acts on its own (that “Nash non-cooperative equilibrium”), it will hold back in its fiscal expansion out of fear that it would lead to a large trade deficit; and (iii) the insight that if all countries agree to simultaneous fiscal stimulus, it need not adversely affect anyone’s trade balance, while yet achieving a faster global recovery of GDP and employment.  Thus, cooperation beats non-cooperation.

We need something like that now.  Recent estimates at the IMF show large potential gains when G20 countries invest at the same time: “If those with the largest fiscal space were to simultaneously increase infrastructure spending by ½ percent of GDP in 2021 and 1 percent of GDP in the following years—and if economies with more constrained fiscal space invested one third of that—they could lift global GDP by close to 2 percent by 2025. This compares with just below 1.2 percent for an unsynchronized approach.”

While President Trump doesn’t understand the connection between his country’s fiscal deficit and its trade deficit, others do understand.  A coordinated fiscal expansion (with the funds hopefully spent on such good causes as the fight against Covid-19, directly, and green infra-structure investment, as Biden wants to do) would minimize the danger of a W-shaped recession.

Coping with EMDE indebtedness

With their interest rates near zero, the US and other advanced countries do not feel constrained in their ability to borrow, even as debt-to-GDP ratios rise.  Emerging Market and Developing Economies [EMDEs] do feel very much constrained, however.  This is especially true of those that already had unsustainable debt-to-GDP ratios even in January, but not just them.  Many will need their debts restructured.  The response of the international community mostly consisted of the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which has been very limited in scope.  In particular, it failed to include private debt.

Leadership and coordination on this subject among the largest economies is sorely needed.  The November 21-22 G20 Leaders’ Summit tried to go further, adopting a common framework for the 73 poorest countries, encouraging restructuring not just of known bilateral official debt but also of private debt.  China, the biggest holder of EMDE claims, agreed to participate. But the G20;s framework still consists primarily of kicking the can down the road by postponing debt-service obligations, rather than reducing them.

Many in Africa worry that well-intentioned efforts at coordinated restructuring will hurt their ability to continue participating internationally in private financial markets. Also needed in the case of the poorest countries is new concessional lending and grants.  Proposals are back on the table to issue a new round of SDRs and to direct the liquidity to EMDEs.


Many in his own party will call for President-elect Biden to continue to pursue some of the same trade objectives as Trump, but to work with US allies rather than against them.  One example is the objective of reducing the need for foreign corporations to share proprietary technology with domestic Chinese partners as the price for access to China’s market.

An intelligent strategy might have been to stay in the Trans-Pacific Partnership – in which the US mostly got to write the rules – and then hold out to China the prospect of someday joining if it followed the rules.  The other trans-Pacific countries have gone ahead without the US.  America could still catch up by re-joining. But it is probably too late for that.  After all, in the meantime, while the US has been asleep, China has organized its own trade bloc in Asia and the Pacific, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which was signed on November 15.  Personally, at this point I would see more promise in good old straightforward reciprocal tariff cuts, than in messy hard-to-enforce “deep integration.”

Even we who are committed devotees of the open rule-based trading system — which played such an important role in achieving global economic prosperity in the second half of the 20th century — must recalibrate our ambitions.

This past week’s high-level appointments to the incoming Biden Administration are internationalists.  Presumably the US will allow the WTO to function again.  Biden will return America to the practice of keeping its word in its international dealings.

But international trade agreements are not likely to be high on Biden’s list of priorities.  Furthermore, even if America were fully ready to lead again, the world has lost some of its enthusiasm for allowing the United States to be the conductor of the international orchestra.  But its friends and allies will, at a minimum, be very happy to see the US back as an important and constructive player.


This post written by Jeffrey Frankel.

89 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: “You don’t miss international cooperation until it’s gone”

  1. pgl

    A lot of good economics especially this paragraph:

    “Beyond measures to address the pandemic itself, what is most needed in advanced countries is joint fiscal stimulus. Precedents include the Bonn Summit of G-7 Leaders in 1978, during the recovery from the recession of 1974-1975, and the 2009 G-20 meetings under the leadership of British PM Gordon Brown, during the Great Recession. The argument for coordinated fiscal expansion consists of more than the obvious observation that the effect on global economic activity will be bigger if many countries enact stimulus than if just a few do. The argument is (i) a recognition that countries worry about their trade balances, not just their levels of output and employment, (ii) the logic that when each country acts on its own (that “Nash non-cooperative equilibrium”), it will hold back in its fiscal expansion out of fear that it would lead to a large trade deficit; and (iii) the insight that if all countries agree to simultaneous fiscal stimulus, it need not adversely affect anyone’s trade balance, while yet achieving a faster global recovery of GDP and employment. Thus, cooperation beats non-cooperation.”

    Gordon Brown alas was later replaced by the Cameron crowd which prematurely turned to fiscal austerity. But somehow I’m sure one of our Usual Suspects will argue for a return to Cameron style fiscal policy.

  2. ltr

    November, 2020

    Notes on globalization and slowbalization
    By Paul Krugman

    Pol Antràs has a nice paper * on globalization in the face of Covid-19, although the truth is that his paper doesn’t have much to do with the pandemic; it is, instead, about the forces that fueled the rapid growth in trade over the two decades prior to the 2008 crisis, and why they’ve abated. Anyway, reading him inspired me to write up some thoughts of my own on the long-run history of globalization and its future prospects.

    Why do this now? To be honest, partly what I’m doing is taking a brief mental vacation from the pandemic and the ugliness of the political scene. But I’ve also been wanting for a while to write something challenging what I believe is a widespread view that the long-run trend must always be toward greater global integration, that unless protectionism intervenes the world is always getting flatter.

    This is kind of the economic version of the Whig interpretation of history, in which liberal values and the middle class are always rising. It’s a view that appealed to elite opinion in the heyday of Davos Man. But it was never well grounded either in history or in theory. Globalization isn’t necessarily the wave of the future; the share of trade in world GDP could quite easily be significantly lower in 2040 than it is now. And that might be OK!

    In what follows I’ll briefly summarize the long-run history of globalization, then sketch out a stylized model that I think makes sense of this history. I’ll conclude with a few thoughts about the future.


  3. ltr

    October, 2020

    Why Did Trump’s Trade War Fail? (Notes toward a proper paper)
    By Paul Krugman

    For the most part, Donald Trump’s economic policies have been straight Republican orthodoxy. Tax cuts; environmental deregulation; an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. There has been little evidence of the economic populism he ran on in 2016.

    The big exception has been trade policy. Not only has Trump been the most protectionist president since the 1930s, he has effectively ripped up the framework that has governed trade policy since FDR signed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act in 1934.

    One reason Trump has been able to be heterodox on that front has been the peculiar institutional structure of trade policymaking. To oversimplify a bit, the RTAA established a system that took away the ability of Congress to insert special-interest provisions into tariff legislation. Instead, the executive branch negotiates trade agreements with other countries, and Congress simply votes these agreements up or down.

    From the beginning, however, the framers of trade legislation realized that the system couldn’t be too rigid. In order to avoid political backlash that could destroy the system, there needed to be “pressure releases” — ways to offer some relief to industries facing sudden import surges, perceived unfair competition, and so on. So there are a number of circumstances under which tariffs can be temporarily imposed without a wholesale rewriting of legislation: disruptive competition from abroad, foreign subsidies, dumping, national security.

    The decision on whether or when to impose these tariffs is left up to the executive branch. The idea — which worked until Trump — was that while Congress might be in the thrall of special interests, the president would have a broader view, taking diplomatic considerations and the state of the world trading system into account.

    It turns out, however, that this system offers extraordinary freedom of action to a president who is less concerned than Congress with diplomatic and systemic issues. While there are quasi-judicial procedures for determining whether, for example, an import surge is disruptive (Section 201) or foreign countries are engaged in unfair trade practices (Section 301), a determined president can choose to impose tariffs on those grounds whenever he wants. And while the national security argument (Section 232) has historically been used very sparingly, if a president chooses to declare that, say, imports from Canada threaten national security, there are no legal ways to limit his actions.

    As a result, Trump has been able to radically change US trade policy without any need for legislation….

    1. pgl

      I’ve been hoping Menzie cites this excellent discussion from Krugman. In a lot of ways – Krugman appears to be reading Menzie’s excellent blog posts on these matters!

  4. pgl

    Off topic I know but this is fun:

    Fox News Host Pulls Apart Election Lies Trump Spouted On Network Hours Earlier

    Josephine Harvey·Reporter, HuffPost
    Sun, November 29, 2020, 6:55 PM EST·2 min read

    Fox News host Eric Shawn on Sunday debunked election disinformation that President Donald Trump shared on the same network only hours earlier.

    Trump unloaded a stream of baseless claims about a rigged election in his first televised interview since the election to his devout Fox News ally Maria Bartiromo, who encouraged the allegations and allowed them to go largely unchallenged.

    But Fox weekend anchor Shawn pointed out on “America’s News Headquarters” that Trump’s campaign has failed to prove any of his accusations in court.

    “In fact, your government, election officials, experts and others ― many of them Republican, including Trump appointed officials ― say that the president’s claims are false and unsubstantiated,” he told viewers.

    He invited Axios political reporter Hans Nichols to help dismantle many of Trump’s claims, including that ballots counted after the initial tallies on election night were somehow fraudulent.

    “Every swing state that we’re talking about, and they did these massive dumps of votes,” Trump said. “And all of a sudden, I went from winning by a lot to losing by a little.”

    “Well, officials say these are not illegal dumps,” Shawn said. “That’s just the counting of the many mail-in ballots that are entered into the computer system.”

  5. ltr

    November 29, 2020



    Cases   ( 13,750,404)
    Deaths   ( 273,072)


    Cases   ( 9,432,039)
    Deaths   ( 137,177)


    Cases   ( 2,218,483)
    Deaths   ( 52,325)


    Cases   ( 1,617,327)
    Deaths   ( 58,245)


    Cases   ( 1,100,683)
    Deaths   ( 105,459)


    Cases   ( 1,055,607)
    Deaths   ( 16,533)


    Cases   ( 370,278)
    Deaths   ( 12,032)


    Cases   ( 86,512)
    Deaths   ( 4,634)

  6. ltr

    November 29, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    UK   ( 856)
    US   ( 823)
    Mexico   ( 814)
    France   ( 801)

    Canada   ( 317)
    Germany   ( 197)
    India   ( 99)
    China   ( 3)

    Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 9.6%, 3.6% and 2.4% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.

  7. ltr

    November 30, 2020

    Chinese mainland reports 18 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland on Sunday registered 18 new COVID-19 cases, 3 domestically transmitted cases in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and 15 from overseas, announced the National Health Commission on Monday.

    A total of 17 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were also recorded, while 281 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation. No COVID-19-related deaths were reported on Sunday, and 21 patients were discharged from hospitals.

    As of Sunday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 86,530, with 4,634 fatalities.

    Chinese mainland new imported cases

    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

    [ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since the beginning of May.  Since the beginning of June there have been 7 limited community clusters of infections, each of which was an immediate focus of mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak having been contained.  Symptomatic and asymptomatic cases are all contact traced and quarantined.

    Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine.  Cold-chain imported food products are also all checked.  The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.

    There are now 277 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 7 of which cases are classed as serious or critical. ]

  8. JohnH

    Funny how international cooperation regarding tax avoidance never seems to make the list, despite the fact that budgets are under stress everywhere.

    1. pgl

      Try Googling Econospeak and Angrybear for “transfer pricing” and you will see I have written a ton this. So has Brad Setser who is on Biden’s team.

      The OECD has written a ton on “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting”. Try reading some of this before you make a dumbass claim like that.

      OK Jeff Frankel did not specifically mention this issue but if you are saying no one else is doing so – then you are indeed an utter moron.

    2. Menzie Chinn Post author

      JohnH: You are very wrong. It doesn’t make it into regular press, but these topics have been in the middle of the policy debate ever since TCJA failed to reverse previous trends in tax avoidance.

          1. JohnH

            A better example of asymmetric information would be what Biden told big donors and what he told voters.

            But back to tax avoidance…I didn’t expect to find an issue that Democrats treated in a more cavalier, hypocritical fashion than their on-and-off support for increasing the minimum wage. But then the issue of tax avoidance came up. Back in the day, political candidates would flog that issue. But no more. Kamala finally managed to bring it up on Oct 9, and it was news!

            You would have thought that having the Tax-Cheat in Chief in the White House would have prompted Democrats to fully exploit the issue. Instead, the craven and corrupt appear to have quivered and quaked in fear of discomfiting the tax cheats among their big donors, barely able to lift even a finger in a reproachful wag.

            And somewhere in the smoke-filled back rooms of K Street, obscure policy circles argue and insult each other while international tax avoidance runs rampant.

            Shining a little light on this disease would seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered…but who would dare call the doctor?

          2. Barkley Rosser

            You are becoming increasingly ridiculous, JohnH. The Biden campaign has supported increasing funding to the IRS specifically to crack down on rax avoidance. They even put out some publicity on it, although it did not get a lot of attention from the media, just as their steady, not “off and on” you lying scumbag, support for a higher minimum wage did not get much attention. Look, JohH, the media views these as boring topics. What got the most attention was the issue that continues to gobble up the most attention: the pandemic.

          3. JohnH

            Rosser: I already provided several examples where Pelosi’s DCCC-selected candidates refused to embrace minimum wage increases in states where minimum wage initiatives won. “In Florida, about 61% of the voters approved a state constitutional amendment gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. But state Democratic Party leaders were too frightened of their corporate donors to really fight for the measure.” Dare I say corruption?

            And there you have the problem. Democrats “support” for minimum wage increases is easy political posturing which evaporates during an election or in a legislative session. The only Democrat to win statewide in Florida waffled on the issue.

            I expect that any initiative to target tax avoidance will suffer the same fate. Given Trump’s egregious tax avoidance, it should have been the perfect issue for Democrats, but they Biden didn’t talk about it much, so it will be easy to bury.

            People like Rosser need pay attention to what Democrats do, not what they say. The difference is stark.

          4. Barkley Rosser


            What a nothing burger. Your columnist says that the state Dem party “did not fight hard for it,” which is not the same thing as opposing it. many FL Dems supported it strongly, and it was initiated by a Dem businessperson, Morgan.

            As it is, it may not get implemented because the FL GOP actively and openly totally opposes it, and to be implemented it needs some action by the state legislature, which is GOP controlled, and which reportedly may not do so.

            So your tale that somehow the GOP was wisely supporting a min wage increase iFL while the state Dems were not is simply false. You are lying again.

            And, of course, what state Dems in FL do is not at all the fault of Pelosi or any national Dem. You are just full of it, and it stinks very badly.

          5. JohnH

            The usual misrepresentations by Rosser. I never suggested that the GOP supported the minimum wage increase. Nor did I imply that the Democratic grassroots didn’t support it. And I did not suggest that Joe Morgan is not a Democrat, though he wisely distances himself from the party establishment.

            What I said was that Democratic candidates’ failure to embrace the issue probably contributed mightily to their poor showing…in a year when those redistributing the state were being selected.

            I mean, come on! If there was ever a year for Democrats to buck the donor class and ride a very popular issue to victory, this was it.

            Instead, Democrats punted…like they pretty much always do.

          6. Barkley Rosser


            Pretty weird and silly you have picked on Florida for your example. This is the place above all others where Spanish language media have blasted Trump propaganda about Dems and Biden being “socialists,” which by all accounts seriously moved many Latinx voters, especially Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans, to support Trump. This pretty much overwhelmed anything those local Dems tried to do or say.

            Bad example, indeed the poster boy for the moderates you are dissing for why advice from people like you is worthless.

          7. Barkley Rosser

            Also, JohnH, you say you are a post-Dem third party person, but your banging on Dems with no banging on GOP objectively helps GOP. Your complaint is that Dems somehow did not “communicate” loudly enough their support for positions you support that they also support, but that the GOP overwhelmingly opposes. Do you maybe slightly get why most of us find you utterly hypocritical is not just totally incoherent?

        1. noneconomist

          Depends, JohnH. Has the forest been raked? re loggers doing the cutting this providing jobs and putting food on the table? Are they working for the federal minimum wage or are they in a state—South Dakota—with a $9 minimum and no fear of Democrats yapping about COVID?

        2. pgl

          If it is not hitting JohnH square in the nose – it does not exist? I guess you did not see all the news over the past couple of weeks as to how Coca Cola lost big time in Tax Court over its aggressive transfer pricing? Oh wait – you have no clue what transfer pricing even is. Never mind.

          1. pgl

            December 1, 2020 at 12:28 pm
            The usual misrepresentations by Rosser. I never suggested that the GOP supported the minimum wage increase. Nor did I imply that the Democratic grassroots didn’t support it.”

            When caught lying – JohnH denies what he originally said. You did not use those exact words but that is the essence of what you said. You may be even worse than Bruce Hall in this way.

          2. JohnH

            Coud pgl please provide the exact quote where I claimed that the GOP supported the minimum wage.

            What’s at issue here is whether establishment Democrats support increasing the minimum wage, or whether is just political posturing, designed to mislead the gullible

            If this troll pgl has any credentials at all, it must be a BS degree from Trump U!!!

          3. Barkley Rosser


            Sorry, buster, but establishment Democrats have supported raising the minimum wage nearly unanimously for a long time. One reason why the media has not been interested in reporting on this is that is such old and well known news.

            I also note that this issue has never been in the top 5 and rarely even in the top 10 of issues that the public has claimed to care about. Your (and Moron Moses’s) idea that somehow if only the Dems had made a much louder “communication” about their well and long known position on this issue would have made a big difference in down ballot issues is simply a wild fantasy nearly as out of it as the Trump fantasies about how he has really won the election. Both you and Moses are basically just third rate Trumpish trolls.

          4. JohnH

            Rosser: yes, establishment Democrats have long claimed that they support increases in the minimum wage. But the proof is in their behavior, not their posturing.

            So, if they really support increases, why was their support so tepid in Florida, where they lost while the initiative won?

            And why did Pelosi’s DCCC candidates in AK, AR, NE, and SD not embrace successful minimum wage initiatives, losing while the initiative won?

            “In the days, weeks, and months to come, Democrats are likely going to do a bit of soul-searching with regard to the 2020 election and why they fell short in some House, Senate, and local races they expected to win. There are no easy answers, but one place to look might be putting more popular ideas, including a $15 minimum wage, front and center.”

            I mean, come on! Pew polls show that 75% of Americans support $15 minimum wage. Republicans can’t exploit the issue and Democratic candidates largely ignore it.

            Personally, I think that Democrats are now too beholden to Big Money to ever have their DSCC and DCCC candidates pay more than lip service to minimum wage issues.

            But, of course, delusional Democrats like pgl and Rosser actually think that Democrats are serious and take them at their word!!!

            It’s actually pretty important to watch what Democrats do…which has been pretty underwhelming for a long, long time…unless you’re a bank or a big corporation.

            IMO Florida is a preview of what will happen to Democrats nationally in 2020. The octogenarians are too old to change.

          1. noneconomist

            Not to forget, Trumpers don’t trust the “regular press” preferring instead the news emanating from WAY out in right field. If I scour their “regular news” how long will I take to stumble across this topic?
            BTW, did you know the minimum wage in Florida is now $8.56? that only puts it $$4.46 BELOW California and about $5 BELOW Washington . Blame the brain dead Democrats in those states (and in Oregon where the minimum is only$12) for not caring enough about low wage workers.
            And, if Florida goes to $15 by 2026, that will put them only FOUR years behind California where $15 will occur in 2022.
            Now, about Arkansas.

          2. The Rage

            Nah, their alternative press is controlled by the elite. Understand, controlling counter culture is something the CFR to the Club of Rome learned decades ago. Conservatives are frauds, just like proggies.

        3. pgl

          You are now saying Biden is not serious about this issue? Man you are an idiot.
          Check out my discussion and some of the excellent links:

          You might read up on what the excellent Brad Setser is saying as he is part of the Biden transition team. And this Alex Parker is perhaps the best writer in the business of tax publications. Oh wait – he writes for LAW360 which is not part of your “regular press” so I guess in your warped mind – that does not count.

          1. JohnH

            Biden proposes…AKA postures. Now watch how little he does. Remember, he promised the donor class that nothing would change.

          2. noneconomist

            What’s it matter to you, JohnH? You’re a self styled idealistic third party voter who always expects the worst. Hence, your unbending belief in truth.
            Yes, I’m laughing at you and your “idealism.”
            You’re the same idealist who praised Republicans for their great economic message during the campaign ( an idealist cheering lying and deceptions? Say it ain’t so!) while shaking your head—with the sound of loose marbles quite noticeable—at Democrats who were worried about the pandemic and its effect on now and the future.
            Oh those brain dead Democrats. When will they ever learn?

          3. JohnH

            Maybe you explain why Pew polls show that voters trust Republicans to manage the economy better than Democrats?

            Facts are facts…Democrats are delusional if they continuously ignore that “it’s the economy,stupid.”

          4. noneconomist

            Polls say…What do you care, JohnH? You said you know Republicans major goal is advancing their own self interest, that they’re the biggest complainers about raising the minimum wage. Quite clear you appreciate their deceptions and lies.
            In two years, brain dead Democrats will have advanced the California minimum wage to $15. Minimum wage advancement throughout the West has occurred under Democratic legislatures with brain dead Democrats—chosen by brain dead Democratic voters?—despite continued opposition from Republicans.
            Going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure voters know who is and isn’t in favor of raising minimum wage and working for better health care.
            But you’d rather genuflect to Florida where the minimum is now $8.56 and will eventually increase to $15 by 2026. Being a few years behind all those brain dead Democrats Blue States who’ve already raised minimum wages is a badge of honor , right?
            Do keep on jabbering. And maybe reconsider the possibility of whose brain is actually in danger of extinction, you idealist you.

          5. JohnH

            Yes, Democrats is some states, like mine, do the right thing. It’s almost as if they’re a different species from that octogenarians ruining their show in DC. I vote Democratic in my state, but not for President or for one of our two Democratic Senators, who is too cozy with health insurance crooks.

            The problem is that it is the national Democratic establishment that has become totally out of touch. It is the DCCC and DSCC who have enormous influence in selecting, vetting, and coaching congressional candidates. These candidates go on to refuse to put popular, kitchen table issues, like increasing the minimum wage, front and center. Of course they lose. But the octogenarians ruining their show don’t do any lessons learned, can’t understand what happened (it must have been Putin!), and lose again and again.

          6. noneconomist

            I wish I had fond memories of the 97,000 idealists who voted for Ralph Nader in the. 2000 Florida election. Looking back, they were brain dead before brain dead was a JohnH staple. If 538 of them had voted for Gore, we would have been spared the idiocy unleashed by their idealism.
            That’s the legacy championed by the JohnH’s whose idealism leads to anything BUT the ideal.

          7. JohnH

            If Gore had had a progressive bone in his body, I would have voted for him. He almost got there one week, then went back to his center-right nonsense.

            Gore lost all by himself.

          8. noneconomist

            Instead you and those like you gave us George W. Bush. No surprise, you were brain dead 20 years ago.
            Idealist, my @ss.

  9. 2slugbaits

    Prof. Frankel, A ton of carbon emitted into the air has the same greenhouse effect everywhere regardless where in the world it is emitted.

    I don’t think that’s quite correct. The problem is actually worse than that. The immediate effects will be felt in some of the most vulnerable parts of the globe long before other parts of the globe. As a moral problem this is even worse than if the effects of global warming were uniform across the globe. Countries like Bangladesh will suffer the effects long before people in the upper Midwest. And to make matters worse, the immediate costs of suppressing climate change will fall on the very people who will be the last to suffer the consequences of global warming. Eventually global warming will affect everyone everywhere, but not all at the same time.

  10. pgl

    Arizona just certified Biden won today and Wisconsin will do so tomorrow. All the contested states have certification sign off with Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania confirming Biden won. More of the details here:

    Of course this has not stopped Rudy Giuliani holding mock hearings with the only press allowed being nut organizations to the right of Fox News.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Actually Wisconsin went ahead and ceerified today with the end of the recount. The Chair of the Board of Canvassers can do it alone, and she did so, not waiting for tomorrow.

  11. ltr

    November 10, 2017

    How Corporations and the Wealthy Avoid Taxes (and How to Stop Them)
    By Gabriel Zucman

    The United States loses, according to my estimates, close to $70 billion a year in tax revenue due to the shifting of corporate profits to tax havens. That’s close to 20 percent of the corporate tax revenue that is collected each year. This is legal.

    Meanwhile, an estimated $8.7 trillion, 11.5 percent of the entire world’s G.D.P., is held offshore by ultrawealthy households in a handful of tax shelters, and most of it isn’t being reported to the relevant tax authorities. This is… not so legal.

    These figures represent a huge loss of resources that, if collected, could be used to cut taxes on the rest of us, or spent on social programs to help people in our societies.

    How do they do it?

    May 23, 2019

    The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich
    Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.
    By Ben Steverman

    1. pgl

      Thanks for reminding us of the excellent work by Gabriel Zucman. Gee Bloomberg covered his work on how the rich evade taxes. But wait – JohnH tells us that this does not get any coverage from the “regular press”. I bet Bloomberg is going to find it weird that they are not consider the regular press.

      1. JohnH

        Wow! Somebody found an article somewhere about tax avoidance…in a year when Democrats were running against the Trump, the Tax Cheat in Chief. At the very least the issue should have provided Democrats a powerful talking point. Even better, It could have been a great teaching moment, raising public awareness, and setting the stage for real reform…none of which will happen.

        Of course, pgl. the incessant defender of all posturing by the Democratic establishment, will paint Biden as the savior…even though the most we can expect is some token gesture.

        1. Barkley Rosser


          You are indulging in a massive fantasy here with this whole “communication” pitch of yours. Indeed, you have asked a good question: why do so many voters believe Trump was better on the economy than Obama or the Dems more generally? That is objectively not true, but indeed Trump has lied loudly and repeatedly to his 89 million Twitter followers and through the whole right wing media network from Fox News through the talk radio shows that are totally dominated by right wingers and on to OAN and Newsmax and the QAnon networks. These people do not read or pay attention to any of the “regular media” where you somehow think that louder advertising by Dems about their strong positions on minimum wages and tax avoidance would have gotten the attention of the working class people from the Midwest who get their news from those Trumpist sources.

          Heck, what is probably needed is for there to be some left liberal person to get a successful talk radio show going to compete with Rush Limbaugh and the others, although I gather Rush may have just said his last there. But, I am sure it is your view that the failure of this to happen is the fault of corporate crony octogenarians on the DNC.

  12. ltr

    Latin American countries have recorded 4 of the 11 and 6 of the 21 highest number of coronavirus cases among all countries.  Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.  Mexico, with more than 1 million cases recorded, has the 4th highest number of cases among Latin American countries and the 11th highest number of cases among all countries.  Mexico is now the 4th among all countries to have recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

    November 29, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    US   ( 823) *

    Brazil   ( 811)
    Argentina   ( 848)
    Colombia   ( 716)

    Mexico   ( 814)
    Peru   ( 1,083)
    Chile   ( 800)

    Ecuador   ( 756)
    Bolivia   ( 762)

    * Descending number of cases

  13. Barkley Rosser

    Good post, Jeffrey. I think the big unknown, which you make reasonable comments on, is what Biden will do about trade. Clearly here things have changed, even though Trump’s trade war was basically a huge flop. But it is not viewed that way by the public, which indeed limits what Biden can do, with indeed it highly unlikely he will rejoin the TPP, although that would be an obvious thing to do. Hopefully he will work with allies and even with China to reduce the current conflicts, but probably some of what Trump did will persist.

    Curiously one of those items is the big nothing that was his revised version of NAFTA, the USMCA, which mostly involved adding things in the TPP, with a nod at making Mexico pay its autoworkers more and making Canada buy more US dairy products. As it is, we have some folks here very impressed with this, convinced that NAFTA was awful and that somehow Hillary Clinton was running around Ohio in 2016 bragging about having played a role in passing it, with her doing neither of those as she was trying to avoid the trade issue and indeed came out against TPP, even though Obama and Biden had negotiated it. The trade deal that we now know really hurt a lot of US industrial workers was letting China into the WTO, not NAFTA, which was on balance a net job gainer, if not by as much as some of its advocated forecast it would be.

    1. Moses Herzog

      Barkley Junior
      You didn’t want to correct Professor Frankel on his 2nd quarter GDP call?? Strange……..

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Just you, Moses, who has never told us what your predicted second quarter pattern was. You were asked to put up or shut up, but you have done neither.

        1. Moses Herzog

          @ Barkley Junior
          I recall saying I thought the 2nd quarter number would be negative 28.88 percent. What was your number again??

          Hey, I just happen to have one of your 2nd quarter GDP comments right here:
          “As it is, yes, Frankel is indeed on the list of ‘authorities’ I am challenging regarding these projections of a massive GDP decline in second quarter.”

          Keep up the good work Junior, all the folks at James Madison U are super proud of your forecasting skills!!!!

          1. Moses Herzog

            BTW, Barkley, the one person on this blog I have the utmost respect for and that I would care most to know what I thought the shape of the recovery would be knows that. This person got my thoughts on that in a June 25th email. Now if that person really wants to share that (the individual portion of that email related to the shape of recovery), he can. But I kind of enjoy making you wonder and hypothesize what that might have been. I’ll give you a hint in the name of brotherly love Junior. I didn’t predict an “L” and I didn’t predict a “V”. Now Barkley, you are just gonna have to deduct from there I guess.

          2. Barkley Rosser

            Well, Moses, for the umpteenth plus time, it was a V that flattened, as I was the first here to note. You did at a certain point here tout the L pattern, although you later claimed you were talking about something else.

            Again, for the umpteenth time, on the matter of the numbers for the second quarter, I made a mistake in thinking that the measure was from the endo of one quarter to the end o the next, whereas indeed it is from the average of one quarter to the average of the next quarter. As it was, I was right about the numbers based on my incorrect understanding of how it was measured,. I never disagreed with the numbers as how it is officially measures. In any case, this is now old and well-worn material.

            BTW, since for an unknown reason, which I think we know (that you were wrong) you refuse to reveal your forecast of the patern for the second quarter, then please ask this person you informed about it whom you respect so much to reveal it to us.

            As it is, I was right about the numbers based on my understanding of how things were being measured or reported at particular times, but there was a lot of confusion about that. You are just making yoruself look silly by going on and on over this tangled past discussion, especially given that I had the big picture right about the pattern while you continue to refuse to put up or shut up.

    2. The Rage

      WTO was irrelevant. They were already in it until TS. China will depeg soon and take Asia with them. Debt is going to become expensive. The trade war was invented by China.

        1. macroduck

          Thanks, Menzie. I’m still too tryptophan-drunk to deal with this.

          I have to say, TR seems less like a politically motivated troll and more like a crazy uncle who rants at family gatherings to get attention. Not sure that makes him (her?) less problematic.

          1. 2slugbaits

            The Rage We will see 2030 is coming.

            Isn’t 2030 when Ted Mosby tells his kids how he met their mother? Sounds more important than your prediction about China.

          2. Moses Herzog

            “tryptophan-drunk” macroduck is 10–20 times better than fully alert “average comment guy” on Econbrowser. I happen to know because I hear Econbrowser “average comment guy’s” thoughts every time I look at the ceiling at night.

            So “bring on” those tryptophan drunk comments.

            : )

          3. Barkley Rosser


            Are you the one that Moses Herzog revealed on June 25 his secret forecast of what the pattern of the second quarter GDP pattern would like was? If so, do please quack it out for us, unless, of course, you are so loyal to him that you do not want to embarrass him publicly here by reporting his incorrect forecast.

            Near as I can tell it has to be you. He has listed you along with Menzie and 2slugbaits as the people he most respects here, and I seriously doubt either Menzie or 2slug would keep it a secret, both of them having taken Moses to task on numerous occasions. But you have been loyal, and as near as I can tell have never ever criticized him for anything, no matter how messed up and stupid. So, go ahead, keep his incorrect forecast secret, quack quack quack.

        2. The Rage

          I could care less about the past decade. I care about the next 10 years Menzie. China is about ready to split Asia from the dollar.

          1. pgl

            Stop it. The currencies have not been pegged and I doubt they will be. But I guess you will continue to make incredibly stupid comments. It is what you do.

          2. pgl

            “China is about ready to split Asia from the dollar.”

            Excuse me troll but which Asian currencies are pegged to the dollar. Not the Japanese yen. Not the yuan (China). Name one currency pegged to the dollar. Oh wait – you have no clue. As always. Stop making such STUPID comments.

          3. The Rage

            You stop it. The US heavily indebted, pure and simple. Its private debt is now insane. It leads toward instability and the central bank panics. Why should investors globally support a bunch of piglets in the US? UKIP in the UK is run by China fwiw. Faux populism indeed. When the UK pegs to China in the next 10 years, I will laugh all the way to the bank.

        3. Moses Herzog

          @ Menzie
          I forgot the exact terminology I chose at the time, but I seem to recall “going at it” with Not Trampis about this once (initiated by him or whoever it was). But the best words I can grasp for at this moment after the dexterity of my mind has been weakened (damaged??) by interacting with Barkley Junior, is “managed floating” and at this moment that is the best description. It’s a little hard to deny China doesn’t still manage CNY now “to a degree”.

          But let me make it clear, I think “pegged” is a very unfair way to describe it in recent years.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Moses Herzog: Absolutely, China manages its currency, to lesser or greater degrees, depending on economic circumstances. Brad Setser would certainly have the detailed tracking of the various regimes. Also see work by McCauley and Shu.

          2. Barkley Rosser

            Awwww, poor Moses, having the “dextetity” of his mind “weakened (damaged?) by “interacting” with me.

            There is an easy solution to this, especially since you have not put up. Shut up. Better yet, just get lost and no longer post here. I am sure the “dexterity” of your mind might recover at least somewhat to whatever low level of functioning is its normal.

          3. Moses Herzog

            @ Barkley Junior
            Nope, it’s too late, you’ve done irreparable damage. It seems I’ll have to make the best of it at this point. But no matter what happens, you and I will always have the deepest moments of our love to remember, from 2nd quarter 2020 GDP. July 30th, when you finally agreed to consummate our love, well, I admit it’s special to me. I’ll never wash my schlong again.

        1. pgl

          “The Rage
          December 1, 2020 at 12:40 pm
          You stop it. The US heavily indebted, pure and simple. ”

          But your claim was that the yuan was pegged to the dollar, which it is not.

          A nation having debt is not the same thing as another nation pegging its currency to the currency of this nation. Yes – you have no clue what you are babbling about. No clue at all.

  14. ltr

    November 30, 2020



    Cases   ( 13,919,870)
    Deaths   ( 274,332)


    Cases   ( 9,463,254)
    Deaths   ( 137,659)


    Cases   ( 2,222,488)
    Deaths   ( 52,731)


    Cases   ( 1,629,657)
    Deaths   ( 58,448)


    Cases   ( 1,107,071)
    Deaths   ( 105,655)


    Cases   ( 1,069,763)
    Deaths   ( 16,862)


    Cases   ( 378,139)
    Deaths   ( 12,130)


    Cases   ( 86,530)
    Deaths   ( 4,634)

  15. ltr

    November 30, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    UK   ( 859)
    US   ( 827)
    Mexico   ( 816)
    France   ( 807)

    Canada   ( 320)
    Germany   ( 201)
    India   ( 99)
    China   ( 3)

    Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 9.5%, 3.6% and 2.4% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.

  16. ltr

    December 1, 2020

    Chinese mainland reports 12 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland on Monday registered 12 new COVID-19 cases, 4 locally transmitted and 8 from overseas, announced the National Health Commission on Tuesday.

    A total of 5 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were recorded, while 264 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation. No COVID-19-related deaths were reported on Monday, and 12 patients were discharged from hospitals.

    As of Monday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 86,542, with 4,634 fatalities.

    Chinese mainland new imported cases

    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

    [ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since the beginning of May.  Since the beginning of June there have been 7 limited community clusters of infections, each of which was an immediate focus of mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak having been contained.  Symptomatic and asymptomatic cases are all contact traced and quarantined.

    Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine.  Cold-chain imported food products are also all checked.  The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.

    There are now 277 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 8 of which cases are classed as serious or critical. ]

    1. The Rage

      When the pandemic ends by spring, will fiscal spending be necessary??? This is partly why dscc under performed in the election. This isn’t 2008-9. Yet Biden acted like it was. The heroes act was a political fail

  17. ltr–VSilnSM6J2/index.html

    December 1, 2020

    China’s Chang’e-5 successfully lands on moon to collect samples
    By Cao Qingqing

    The Chang’e-5 probe successfully landed on the near side of the moon, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Tuesday.

    With the space probe’s ascender on top, its lander made a touchdown at around 11:00 p.m. (Beijing Time), becoming China’s third probe that has successfully made a soft landing on the moon. It has sent back footage of the moment it landed.

    Footage of the landing moment sent back by Chang’e-5

    In the next two days, the lander will collect about two kilograms of lunar samples.

    The Chang’e-5 probe includes a lander, ascender, orbiter, and returner. After the spacecraft entered the circular lunar orbit 200 kilometers above the moon, the lander-and-ascender pair split, descended, and landed at the planned area on the moon.

    The lander will shovel some surface material and also drill a two-meter-deep hole and scoop up the soil from inside it, which will act like an archive of the moon, with the bottom recording information from a billion years ago and the top more closely reflecting the present day.

    The samples will then be stored in the ascender, which will lift off from the lunar surface to transfer the moon samples to the returner and orbiter waiting in the lunar orbit. The unmanned rendezvous and docking in the lunar orbit will also be the first such task conducted by China.  

    Then, at a proper time, the returner will separate from the orbiter and carry the samples back to Earth, which will finally land in North China’s Inner Mongolia.

    Read more: China’s Chang’e-5 moon mission explained in graphics

    Tech It Out: Chang’e-5, China’s most complex space mission ever

    Once completed, the Chang’e-5 probe will become part of the world’s first unmanned sample return mission from the moon in 40 years, and will make China the third country in the world to bring back lunar samples after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

    The Chang’e-5 probe was launched on the early morning of November 24. It’s one of China’s most complicated and challenging space missions so far, which will contribute to scientific studies in fields such as the formation and evolution of the moon.

    Read more: China successfully launches Chang’e-5 to collect moon samples

  18. ltr

    November 30, 2020

    China’s Chang’e-5 probe to execute soft landing on the moon

    The Chang’e-5 probe’s lander and ascender separated from its orbiter and returner at 4:40 a.m. BJT on Monday, according to an announcement from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on the same day.

    The four modules, including the lander, ascender, orbiter and returner that consist of the lunar probe, have worked in pairs and will have a tight schedule this week.

    The mission team said the lander and ascender are waiting for a perfect timing for a soft landing, while the orbiter and returner will continue to fly around the moon and adjust to a designated orbit, getting ready for the docking with the ascender.

    The landing operation is expected in three days. Once it touches down on the lunar surface, the lander will collect two kilograms of lunar samples.

    It will shovel some surface material, drill a two-meter-deep hole and extract the soil from inside it, which will act as an archive of the moon, with the bottom recording information from a billion years ago, and the top more closely reflecting the present day.

    Once the samples are secured, the ascender will take off from the lunar surface to transfer the moon samples to the re-entry capsule waiting in lunar orbit, which will then carry them back to earth.

    The sampling work and the take-off of the ascender from the lunar surface need to be completed within 48 hours, according to Liu Jiangang, chief of the command team in Beijing.

    Read more:

    China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe conducts 2nd braking, prepares to land

  19. ltr

    Congress, in 2011, simply stopped all participation by China in programs of the “International” Space Station.  Now, in 2020, China has already launched and manned a prototype space station, which will soon be followed by a complete International Space Station.  China has an advanced global positioning system.  China has sent an explorer to Mars.  China has a rover which has been exploring the far side of the Moon for almost 2 years now…

    China has just launched a set of 4 vehicles to travel to and land on the Moon, to gather surface and subsurface samples and bring them back to Earth.

  20. pgl

    This may be the funniest story of the year. So the Arizona governor (a Republican) was about to sign the certification of votes where Biden won but Trump decides to call him on his cell phone. Note how the governor looks at his phone, ignores Trump’s call, and goes ahead and sign the certification.

  21. pgl

    December 1, 2020 at 9:03 am”

    Gee Barkley – JohnH had to dig up some oped from a paper in Gainesville Florida to find something that agreed with his all Democrats are corrupt BS. I bet JohnH could not find this town on the map. I’ve been there. Think the Bundys going on vacation to Dumpwater, Florida.

    Now wake me when this troll actually decides to discussion economics. That would be a refreshing change.

  22. pgl

    In the same rant, JohnH said:

    “I expect that any initiative to target tax avoidance will suffer the same fate. Given Trump’s egregious tax avoidance, it should have been the perfect issue for Democrats, but they Biden didn’t talk about it much, so it will be easy to bury.”

    To suggest Biden has not talked about tax avoidance is a BALD FACED LIE. One that had already be debunked by several comments before this troll wrote this lie.

    This is how JohnH polluted EconomistView over and over again. And now this lying troll is doing the same here. Get used to it folks.

  23. pgl

    A story with 3 layers:

    Trump campaign lawyer Joe diGenova said former top US cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot” and “drawn and quartered”.

    OK this first layer is diGenova just being diGenova. A pathetic excuse of a lawyer and a walking slime of garbage.

    But Kreps has a team of lawyers who intend to sue this walking slime. This is the good layer.

    Now diGenova claims he was just joking. Not exactly funny Joe – but it will be funny when a real judge takes you down.

  24. ltr

    November 30, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    Belgium   ( 1,425)
    Spain   ( 964)
    Italy   ( 920)
    UK   ( 859)

    US   ( 827)
    Mexico   ( 816)
    France   ( 807)
    Sweden   ( 660)

    Switzerland   ( 555)
    Netherlands   ( 547)
    Luxembourg   ( 509)
    Portugal   ( 442)

    Ireland   ( 414)
    Austria   ( 353)
    Canada   ( 320)
    Greece   ( 231)

    Germany   ( 201)
    Denmark   ( 144)
    India   ( 99)
    Finland   ( 72)

    Norway   ( 61)
    Australia   ( 35)
    Japan   ( 17)
    Korea   ( 10)

    China   ( 3)

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