Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Global Firms, National Policies

by Joseph Joyce

Global Firms, National Policies

Studies of international transactions often assume that national economies function as separate “islands” or “planets.” Each has its own markets and currency, and international trade and finance occurs when the residents of one economy exchange goods and services or financial assets with those of another. The balance of payments keeps track of the transactions. But in reality firms treat the differences across nations as opportunities to increase their profits, and their decisions on basing the location of their activities–or how they report the basing of the activities–reflect this.

Multinational companies are not new entities; they can be traced back to the European trading companies that colonized the Americas, Asia and Africa. In the twentieth century, firms expanded across borders to get around trade barriers, to obtain access to raw materials, and to produce their goods more cheaply using foreign labor. Advances in the technology of shipping (container ships) and communications (Internet) spurred the development of global supply chains. Firms divided the production of goods among countries in order to manufacture them at the lowest cost before assembly into a final product. Shipments of these intermediate goods have become a major component of international trade, and intermediate inputs represent a significant portion of the value of exports .

This stratification of production has several implications, as Shimelse Ali and Uri Dadush of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have pointed out. Bilateral trade balances, for example, are distorted. U.S. imports from China contain a significant amount of intermediate inputs from other countries. Measuring only the value-added by Chinese firms to their exports lowers its trade surplus with the U.S. by a significant amount.

 

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The Ethics of Clinical Trials

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

The Ethics of Clinical Trials

In a clinical trial the therapy is decided by a pseudo random number generator. How can this be ethical ? People are treated differently for no reason related to different interests different values and priorities or even different merit (assuming merit can differ).There is a utilitarian rational for clinical trials. Through such trials doctors learn, and that knowledge is useful to future patients. But this rationale is utterly rejected as ethically unacceptable, because it was used to justify depraved experiments.

I think the current discussion of the ethics of clinical trials is based on a mixture which is partly consequentialist and partly deontological, and that it is incoherent, because people feel the need to claim it is totally both, while the two are inevitably in conflict.

So it is asserted that physicians must act in the interest of the patient – each and every patient. It is also argued that clinical trials are morally acceptable. This does not make sense.

 

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“If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did” J-chait

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

“If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did” J-chait

Jon Chait remains as enthusiastic about Barack Obama as I am, so it isn’t surprising that he wrote a blog post entitled “If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did”. But the title does raise a question. Is Chait dumping on the very serious centrists (cough David Brooks couch) who argued that Obama should reach out to Republicans by proposing reasonable centrist policies which he had proposed (as Chait often does) or is Chait hippy punching (as Chait does when he isn’t Republipunching).The first two words in the post answer the question “Matt Stoller” OK here comes some hippy punching (I haven’t read past “Stoller”). In contrast, something is very predictable. I almost always agree with Chait (unless he is writing about charter schools and neglects to mention that he is married to a manager of a charter school company).

Charlie Pierce has been there and done that. No need to read his post to get the point — the subtitle is thermonuclear

“I’m Going to Guess This Isn’t a Winning Democratic Platform for 2020

Also, Rand Paul is not a major figure in American politics.”

Just imagine a Pierce Chait debate — might be the critical mass of snark which causes the false vacuum to decay ending the universe (which on balance wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing)).

Now hippy punching can be fun, but really guys, pick on someone in your league — it isn’t nice to dunk on a junior high school guard.

update: I clicked through to an older and excellent Chait article complaining that liberals did’t appreciate Obama in 2010 (now liberals do — the current complaints come from democratic socialists who denounce mere liberals).

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Martin Luther King – Walls Separating Mankind

Martin Luther King when asked about the Berlin Wall: This is my first vision of the Wall. “And do you find it depressing?” Yes, I certainly do. It symbolizes the divisions of mankind. “Have you ever seen anything as disastrous as this?” Not really. Suddenly there are the divisions that continue to exist but when these divisions are symbolized by an actual wall, it becomes very depressing.

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Rare Yglesias Google Fail

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

Rare Yglesias Google Fail

(Most boring title after “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” but I couldn’t resist) Web savvy ultra wonk Matthew Yglesias wrote “There’s no polling on specific brackets or exactly who counts as rich that I can find,” Matty just google [income to be rich poll]. Jeez. Americans have varying ideas of how much money you need to earn each year to be considered “rich,” but most people say you need to bring in at least $1 million per year. Notice that the possibility that one is rich because of high wealth not high income is too weird to even mention. That’s rich.

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A viral ad

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

A viral ad

This ad is clearly designed to go viral also I enjoyed it, so I want to reward them. Notice one aspect of the viral strategy — the ad lasts amazingly long. TV ads are 30 seconds long, because they have to pay for every second. The shame shame shame goes on incredibly long — because youtube doesn’t charge by the second and making a strong impression is key to making people share it or uh copy a link to their low traffic blog (hey but every bit helps).

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Why I’m expecting a 2nd half rebound in housing

by New Deal democrat

Why I’m expecting a 2nd half rebound in housing

In all of the storm und drang about yield curve inversions in the bond market, one important and overlooked consequence is how it is likely to help the very important housing sector.

This post is up at Seeking Alpha.

As usual, clicking over should be educational for you and helps me with a penny or two.

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