Archive

  • THE GLOBALIZATION OF...

    THE GLOBALIZATION OF ICK. After my own mind was blown by this "reproductive tourism" business, I got down to some serious thinking. The main engine of globalization is exploiting gaps between average productivity in a given nation (which drives its wage rates) and industry-specific productivity, which drives the potential for employer profits. Countries like India and Pakistan have very large, very unproductive rural economies that keep overall wages quite low. Consequently, you can build a pretty half-assed shoe factory somewhere in Asia where the specific productivity is much less than at a comprable factory in America, offer wages higher than what you can make as a subsistence farmer, and still make a much bigger profit than you could by locating the factory in America. But generally speaking, the ideal thing to do, globalization-wise, is to find economic activity where bringing the productivity of your third world labor force up to something resembling first world standards doesn'...
  • THE PROBLEM WITH...

    THE PROBLEM WITH HILLARY. She has done precious little to convince me that Timothy Garton Ash �s nightmare vision isn't, in fact, rather plausible. -- Mark Leon Goldberg
  • THE SHIFTING BUSH...

    THE SHIFTING BUSH C.W. Peggy Noonan has a very interesting column up on The Wall Street Journal website offering her take on George W. Bush 's approach to the presidency. It's interesting, primarily, because it's exactly the sort of thing you heard all the time from liberals about two or three years ago -- Bush doesn't listen to dissent, combines disengagement and dogmatism in an unproductive way, doesn't talk to a sufficiently wide range of people, etc. Since the Bush administration, long a giant substantive failure, is now looking destined to be a political failure as well, I think we can expect this kind of narrative to spread more in conservative circles. But as this bit of CW entrenches itself on the center and the right, I think it's important for liberals to start trying to transcend it. Not that there's no truth to Noonan's account. But, in addition, it's worth saying and reiterating that, to a substantial extent, we're just seeing failures of conservative ideology here, not...
  • GLOBALIZING THE WOMB....

    GLOBALIZING THE WOMB. Thanks to an eye-opening Los Angeles Times article yesterday, you can add "reproductive tourism" to the list of words you never thought you'd hear yoked together. It's not just call centers going to India -- now American couples are apparently turning to Indian women to act as surrogate mothers, and at a cost that's a fraction of what they'd pay in the U.S. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • How Big Is China?

    This is not a grand existential question; I am referring to the size of its economy. According to most news reports, China's GDP is approaching $2 trillion, rivaling Germany for the #3 ranking in the world, behind the United States and Japan. In fact, this figure grossly understates the size of China's economy. It is already far larger than Japan's economy and is likely to surpass the size of the U.S. economy in less than a decade. The error is simple. The standard number reported for China's GDP is based on a "currency conversion" measure of GDP. This method takes China's GDP, calculated in its own currency, and then converts this number into dollars, using the official exchange rate. However, China's currency is hugely under-valued, so this method provides a very poor measure of the value of goods and services produced in China each year. The method preferred by economists for most comparative purposes is a "purchasing power parity" measure. This measure adds up GDP by using the...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: DON�T DO IT. Matt makes the case against war with Iran. --The Editors
  • THE POLARIZATION PROBLEM....

    THE POLARIZATION PROBLEM. Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin 's new book Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives is the subject of TPMCafe's book club this week. The thesis is pretty much there in the title. Looking at the book itself and the first round of comments yesterday, from Mark Schmitt and various commenters, I wrote up a little web piece making the case that there is much that liberals might embrace about ruthless DeLay -style partisanship and legislative discipline in Congress. Now Thomas Mann has weighed in with a really valuable post . Now, there's a part of Eilperin's argument that's easy to challenge and there's a part that's tougher to challenge. The easy part is the notion that members of Congress being mean to one another and Allen Boyd getting hassled by his colleagues for being a terrible Democrat somehow constitute a serious crisis in American politics. The more compelling arguments she makes have to do with...
  • MORE GLOBAL WARMING...

    MORE GLOBAL WARMING PESSIMISM. I wish I shared Matt 's optimism. John Quiggin 's post, and Matt's, largely focuses on the ease of heavily reducing CO2 emissions within America. And on that point, Quiggin's right: to paraphrase Rob Schneider 's character in nearly every Adam Sandler movie ever made, we could do it! But we won't. The quick sketch looks like this (go here for the long version). Climatologists tend to think that we're rapidly approaching, or have already passed, a crucial tipping point at which the feedback loops and energy patterns driving global warming are simply not reversible enough, fast enough, to forestall the catastrophic climatological impact folks fear. Matt and John mention that changing patterns merely in the U.S. would kill off a couple percentage of GDP growth -- given the way conservatives fret and fear over slight increases in taxation-as-percentage-of-GDP, the likelihood that we'll institute such cuts while global warming remains a journal paper...
  • CUTTING CARBON EMISSIONS...

    CUTTING CARBON EMISSIONS -- FUN AND EASY. I don't think Ezra should be so quick to concede the infeasibility of big reductions in carbon emissions. The notion that this would require earth-shattering economic sacrifices is the product of an unfortunate conspiracy between regulation-averse right-wingers who don't want us to do anything about the problem, and the modernity-averse faction of environmentalism that wants us to overreact. See this post by John Quiggin for the long form of the argument. He concludes that the requisite changes would cost "between 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent of GDP. That�s about one year�s worth of economic growth [over a period of decades]. Remember that this estimate is not for the modest first steps required under Kyoto, but for a reduction in emissions on the scale required to stabilise climate." Along those lines, it's worth recalling that our current economic policies are not perfectly optimized to maximize growth anyway (just consider the loss...
  • PARTY IN SEARCH...

    PARTY IN SEARCH OF A NOTION. Our fearless leader Mike Tomasky wrote the new cover story for the May print issue of the Prospect , a piece that offers a lengthy rumination on the lingering "philosophy gap" between the left and the right and a prescription for closing it. Mike delineates the two basic liberal traditions -- one emphasizing individual rights, the other emphasizing collective obligations and the common good -- and argues forcefully for a revival of the latter strand as a means by which Democrats can win the country back. The essay is likely to provoke a lot of discussion and debate, and is highly worth a read . --Sam Rosenfeld

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