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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of history's greatest trade proponents:

Genghis Kahn
and the Making of the Modern World
Hardcover
By Jack Weatherford




Quote:
Genghis Khan's empire connected and amalgamated the many civilizations around him into a new world order. At the time of his birth in 1162, the Old World consisted of a series of regional civilizations each of which could claim virtually no knowledge of any civilization beyond its closest neighbor. No one in China had heard of Europe, and no one in Europe had heard of China, and, so far as is known, no person had made the journey from one to the other. By the time of his death in 1227, he had connected them with diplomatic and commercial contacts that still remain unbroken. (emphasis added)

As he smashed the feudal system of aristocratic privilege and birth, he built a new and unique system based on individual merit, loyalty, and achievement. He took the disjointed and languorous trading towns along the Silk Route and organized them into history's largest free-trade zone. He lowered taxes for everyone, and abolished them altogether for doctors, teachers, priests, and educational institutions. He established a regular census and created the first international postal system. His was not an empire that hoarded wealth and treasure; instead, he widely distributed the goods acquired in combat so that they could make their way back into commercial circulation. He created an international law and recognized the ultimate supreme law of the Eternal Blue Sky over all people. At a time when most rulers considered themselves to be above the law, Genghis Khan insisted on laws holding rulers as equally accountable as the lowest herder. He granted religious freedom within his realms, though he demanded total loyalty from conquered subjects of all religions. He insisted on the rule of law and abolished torture, but he mounted major campaigns to seek out and kill raiding bandits and terrorist assassins. He refused to hold hostages and, instead instituted the novel practice of granting diplomatic immunity for all ambassadors and envoys, including those from hostile nations with whom he was at war.

Genghis Khan left his empire with such a firm foundation that it continued growing for another 150 years. Then, in the centuries that followed its collapse, his descendants continued to rule a variety of smaller empiers and large countries, from Russia, Turkey, and India to China and Persia. They held an eclectic assortment of titles, including khan, emperor, sultan, king, shah, emir, and the Dalai Lama. Vestiges of his empier remained under the rule of his descendants for seven centuries. As the Moghuls, some of them reigned in India until 1857, when the British drove out Emperor Bahadur Shah II and chopped off the heads of two of his sons and his grandson. Genghis Khan's last ruling descendant, Alim Khan, emir of Bukhara, remained in power in Uzbekistan until deposed in 1920 by the rising tide of Soviet revolution. ...

The only permanent structures Genghis Khan erected were bridges. Although he spurned the building of castles, forts, cities, or walls, as he moved across the landscape, he probably built more bridges than any ruler in history. He spanned hundreds of streams and rivers in order to m ake the movement of his armies and goods quicker. The Mongols deliberately opened the world to a new commerce not only in goods, but also in indeas and knowledge. The Mongols brought German miners to China and Chinese doctors to Persia. The tranfers ranged from the monumental to the trivial. They spread the use of carpets everywhere they went and transplanted lemons and carrots from Persia to China, as well as noodles, playing cards, and tea from China to the West. The brought a metalworker from Paris to build a fountain on the dry steppes of Mongolia, recruited an English nobleman to serve as interpreter in their army, and took the practice of Chinese fingerprinting to Persia. They financed the building of Christian churches in China, Buddhist temples and stupas in Persia, and Muslim Koranic schools in Russia. The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors, but also as civilization's unrivaled cultural carriers. (From the Introduction, xix-xxiii)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Internet gambling and the mythical link to terror:

After the Empire:
The Breakdown of the American Order
Hardcover
By Emmanuel Todd


Quote:
More on the mythical link between terror and Internet gambling and the anti-terror legislation used by the U.S. to prosecute remote gambling service providers worldwide.


cover

Quote:
The war against Iraq represents a decisive stage in this recent transformation. Apres l'empire's thesis about the significance of America's "theatrical micromilitarism" was all too well illustrated by the aggressive preemptive strike of the world's leading military power against a military midget - an underdeveloped country of twenty-four million inhabitants exhausted by a decade-long economic embargo. The theatrical media coverage of this war, including the U.S. military's close surveillance of how the war was "playing" back home and around the world, must not blind us to a fundamental reality: the size of the opponent chosen by the United States is the true indicator of its currtent power. Attacking the weak is hardly a convincing proof of one's own strength. On the contrary, and in direct confirmation of the central thesis of this book, the United States is pretending to remain the world's indispensable superpower by attacking insignificant adversaries. But this America - a militaristic, agitated, uncertain, anxious country projecting its own disorder around the globe - is hardly the "indispensable nation" it claims to be and is certainly not what the rest of the world really needs now.

America on the other hand cannot "go it alone" - a fact that has become increasingly evident over the past twelve months. Its huge trade deficit has increased further since the publication of Apres l'empire. Its dependence on foreign sources of investment capital is greater than ever. America's real war is about economics not terrorism. The country is battling to maintain its status as the world's financial center by making a symbolic show of its military might in the heart of Eurasia, thereby hoping to forget and have others ignore America's industrial weakness, its financial needs, and its predatory character. However, instead of reinforcing the image of America's global leadership as the current administration in Washington expected, its forced march into war has produced a rapid decline in the international status of the United States. (emphasis added) (-- p. xvii)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The New York Times Magazine
Waving Goodbye to Hegemony
Just a few years ago, America's hold on global power seemed unshakable. But a lot has changed while we've been in Iraq - and the next president is going to be dealing with not only a triumphant China and a re-tooled Europe but also the quiet rise of the second world.
By Parag Khanna, a senior research fellow with the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation.
Jan. 27/08


The Second World
Empires and Influence in the New Global Order
Hardcover


Quote:
More of the book.

More on how international trade facilitates the fair exchange of eco-friendly goods and services, at the PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Climate Change.





Quote:
... Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialsim; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America's armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and "asymmetric" weapons like suicide bombers. America's unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial counter-movements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, ...

... So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing - and losing - in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world's other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules - their own rules - without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will set the planetary stakes of the new global game. ... What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.

... While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit. Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream. Africa wants a real African Union like the E.U.; we offer no equivalent. Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe's, not American-style presidential strongman rule. Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn't educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past. More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want - like the International Monetary Fund - while Europe excels at building new and sophisticated ones modeled on itself. The U.S. has a hard time getting its way even when it dominates summit meetings - consider the ill-fated Free Trade Area of the Americas - let alone when it's not even invited, as with the new East Asian Community, the region's answer to America's Apec.

The East Asian Community is but one example of how China is also too busy restoring its place as the world's "Middle Kingdom" to be distracted by the Middle Eastern disturbances that so preoccupy the United States. In America's own hemisphere, from Canada to Cuba to Chavez's Venezuela, China is cutting massive resource and investment deals. Across the globe, it is deploying tens of thousands of its own engineers, aid workers, dam builders and covert military personnel. In Africa, China is not only securing energy supplies; it is also making major strategic investments in the financial sector. The whole world is abetting China's spectacular rise as evidenced by the ballooning share of trade in its gross domestic product - and China is exporting weapons at a rate reminiscent of the Soviet Union during the cold war, pinning america down while filling whatever power vacuums it can find. Every country in the world currently considered a rogue state by the U.S. now enjoys a diplomatic, economic or strategic lifeline from China, Iran being the most prominent example. ...

The Big Three are the ultimate "Frenemies." Twenty-first-century geopolitics will resemble nothing more than Orwell's 1984, but instead of three world powers (Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia), we have three hemispheric pan-regions, longitudinal zones dominated by America, Europe and China. As the early 20th-century European scholars of geopolitics realized, because a vertically organized region contains all climatic zones year-round, each pan-region can be self-sufficient and build a power base from which to intrude in others' terrain. But in a globalized and shrinking world, no geography is sacrosanct. So in various ways, both overtly and under the radar, China and Europe will meddle in America's backyard, America and China will compete for African resources in Europe's southern periphery and America and Europe will seek to profit from the rapid economic growth of countries within China's growing sphere of influence. Globalization is the weapon of choice. The main battlefield is what I call "the second world." ...

The key second-world countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are mor ethan just "emerging markets." If you include China, they hold a majority of the world's foreign-exchange reserves and savings, and their spending power is making them the global economy's most important new consumer markets and thus gengines of global growth - not replacing the United States but not dependent on it either. I.P.O.s from the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) alone accounted for 39 per cent of the voume raised globally in 2007, just one indicator of second-world countries' rising importance in corporate finance - even after you subtract China. ...

Second-world countries are distinguished from the third world by their potential: the likelihood that they will capitalize on a valuable commodity, a charismatic leader or a generous patron. Each and every second-world country matters in its own right, for its economic, strategic or diplomatic weight, and its decision to tilt toward the United States, the EU or China has a strong influence on what others in its region decide to do. Will an American nuclear deal with India push Pakistan even deeper into military dependence on China? Will the next set of Arab monarchs lean East or West? The second world will shape the world's balance of power as much as the superpowers themselves will. ...

What is more, many second-world countries are confident enough to form anti-imperial belts of their own, building trade, technology and diplomatic axes across the (second) world from Brazil to Libya to Iran to Russia. Indeed, Russia has stealthily moved into position to construct Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor, putting it firmly in the Chinese camp on the Iran issue, while also offering nuclear reactors to Libya and arms to Venezuela and Indonesia. Second-world countries also increasingly use sovereign-wealth funds (often financed by oil) worth trillions of dollars to throw their weight around, even bullying first-world corporations and markets. ... The second world's first priority is not to become America but to succeed by any means necessary. ...

We have learned the hard way that what others want for themselves trumps what we want for them - always. (-- pgs. 36-65)


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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From America's OUCH! case - More on GATS-breach 'n slash settlement proposals in the WTO gambling dispute:

Making Globalization Work
Hardcover
By 2001 Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz


Quote:
More on how international trade facilitates a Best Green Practice Guide and fair trade, at the PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to Climate Change.

More of Stiglitz on the global financial crisis and how to fix it.





Quote:
... The issue of openness in international discussions has long been a major concern. President Woodrow Wilson put "open covenants ... openly arrived at" (my italics) at the head of his agenda for reforming the international political architecture in the aftermath of World War I, going on to argue that "diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view" (my italics). But this has never been the case - or even declared objective - in trade negotiations. Typically the United States and the EU would together select a few developing countries to negotiate with - often putting intense pressure on them to break ranks with other developing countries - in the Green Room at WTO headquarters. (Today, even when the negotiations occur in Cancun, Seattle, or Hong Kong, the room in which the representatives huddle is still called the Green Room, with all the negative connotations.) Having trade ministers closeted in a room, separated from the experts on whom they rely, negotiating all night, may be a good test of endurance, but it is not a way to create a better global trade regime. Worse still, special interests are far more likely to influence international negotiations when they are conducted under the cloak of secrecy.

The justification for these secret, high-pressure negotiations is that it is impossible to negotiate with dozens of countries at a time. That is certainly true, but there are ways to make the negotiation process fairer and to have the voices of developing countries heard more clearly.

Compounding the problems of an unfair agenda and unfair and nontransparent negotiations is unfair enforcement. As we have noted, the enforcement mechanism is asymmetric. Antigua won a major case against the United States on online gambling, but there was no way that Antigua could effectively enforce the decision. Putting tariffs on American goods would simply raise prices for the people of Antigua, making them worse off. But there's a simple solution, which would go some way toward creating a more effective and fair enforcement mechanism: allowing developing countries, at least, to sell their enforcement rights.* Europe, for instance, might have some grievance against the United States in a pending case; rather than waiting for the outcome of that case, it could use the threat of enforcement action in the already-decided case to induce a quicker resolution. (emphasis added) (some footnotes omitted) (From chapter 4, Making Trade Fair, pgs. 98-99)


Quote:
* 64.: The notion is very much like tradable emission rights, which have become part of the system of managing global warming under the Kyoto Protocol. See chapter 6. (-- p. 310)


Our e-mail to Professor Stiglitz:

Quote:
From: legal
To: jes322@columbia.edu
Cc: legal
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:16 PM
Subject: A Modest Proposal


Hello Prof. Stiglitz,

Even the teenager in the family, who has grown up alongside Antigua's WTO dispute with the U.S. over Internet gambling, is a fan of yours, esp the DVD lectures. Most illuminating! I hope you don't mind - I have included a portion of your excellent text, Making Globalization Work, at our educational blog on the dispute, LegalAt PokerPulse.com. I am particularly enchanted with your notion of a developing country offering its enforcement rights for sale. Can you imagine any way Antigua might engage the suggestion during settlement negotiations with the U.S., which as I understand it are ongoing? All ideas most gratefully received. I would be pleased to pass along any messages to Antigua's lead counsel, Mark Mendel. Can't help thinking it would be helpful to both sides to have your insights on the case.

Legal@PokerPulse.com
Tracking all aspects of Internet poker and gambling law
- often way beyond our reach.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Argentina Gambles:

The Take
Occupy. Resist. Produce.

By Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein
DVD




Quote:
Zanon Ceramics worker: Freddy, could you guys make these?

Freddy Espinosa, a Forja San Martin Ltd. Cooperativa worker: These? I can do these with my eyes closed.

Another worker: hTis is what we've achieved. We've agreed that that they'll send us the raw material, we'll forge it, deliver it back to them and begin to do business like this, for 87 per cent of the forged pieces that the tractors have. If the judge, Dr. Fernandez (who told occupying workers to vacate the abandoned factory), understood this, she would understand that we can self-manage the factory.

Freddy: I hope that one day if things turn around and we start producing, I'll be the first to help other cooperatives. You can bet on that.


Synopsis from The Take Text Site:

Quote:
In the wake of Argentina’s spectacular economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act —the take —has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

Director/producer Avi Lewis (Counterspin) and writer/producer and renowned author Naomi Klein (No Logo) take viewers inside the lives of ordinary visionaries, as they reclaim their work, their dignity and their democracy..


Read the review Feb. 17/05 by film critic Roger Ebert:

Quote:
If these films are as correct as they are persuasive, international monetary policy is essentially a scheme to bankrupt smaller nations and cast their populations into poverty, while multinational corporations loot their assets and whisk the money away to safe havens and the pockets of rich corporations and their friends...


Our view:

Quote:
Yes, this film is long, poorly edited and there is no explanation of Argentina's unparallelled expropriation bills, the key to a number of successful takeovers of recuperated factories by former workers. Argentinian law gives workers expropriation rights over a bankrupt company usually for a maximum of two years if they can prove assets have been removed and that the new company serves a social role. See s. 17 of Argentina's Constitution as well as Taking care of business posted at the Guardian Unlimited June 3/05 and Workers in the struggle at Indymedia Argentina posted Sept. 14/04.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the thing is in keeping with the noble traditions of documentary film-making and - !hay caramba! - we liked it.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

TimesOnline
Fleet Street's Finest
Call that a special relationship? They wouldn't bet on it
America's pursuit of British businessmen who have broken no law is absurd
By Mishcon de Reya lawyer, Anthony Julius
June 17/08


Quote:
More on the increasing U.S. appetite for law enforcement beyond its borders.

More on increasing U.S. unilateralism in trade and foreign policy generally.



Quote:
With George W. Bush in London, it is a good time to reflect on the “special relationship”. According to received opinion, this consists of no more than Britain's special culpability for colluding in American crimes. This is mistaken and derives from a European anti-Americanism at least as old as the American Republic itself.

But does this mean that there is no cause at all for concern about the special relationship? Barack Obama has conceded that the relationship must be somewhat “recalibrated”. An Obama adviser added: “Full partners not only listen to each other, they also occasionally follow each other.” He was right to identify an inequality that urgently needs remedying.

The “special relationship”, a phrase coined by Winston Churchill after the Second World War, is predicated on shared language and history, and a commitment to representative democracy and the political freedoms that sustain it. It has the character of a family relationship in two critical respects. It is permanent and open to particular abuse. Although the abuse has been sharpest in recent years, it derives from a longer-term problem - best identified as a peculiarly American extraterritorialism.

“Extraterritorialism” is either when a state gives up some sovereignty to another body, or when it asserts authority over a foreign nation. It can cut both ways. According to the liberal version, individual states should subordinate their sovereign desires to common interests, submitting to authorities such as the UN. According to the imperial version, one state has the right to assert its sovereignty over others, requiring them to submit to its interests.

Liberal extraterritorialism is now identified with Europe; imperial extraterritorialism is taken to be the US default position in both trade and warfare. America is, as the historian Niall Ferguson has approvingly pointed out, an empire. It should therefore surprise no one that it behaves like one.

But the distinction between liberal and imperial does not quite capture the paradox of America's stance. It has been liberal at times and imperial at other times. But it has also been a third, uniquely American thing. This amounts to an interventionism that is genuinely self-sacrificing - acting not merely in its own selfish interests, while also acting without the consent of bodies, such as the UN. It is not submitting to American self-delusion to acknowledge this.

Such an acknowledgement is needed to put into perspective criticisms of US imperial extraterritorialism (to declare an interest, I write as a member of a law firm representing victims of one especially egregious US assertion of extraterritorial authority).

Among deplorable instances of this invasiveness are the Helms-Burton Act 1996, which extends the US embargo against Cuban goods to foreign companies trading with Cuba and provisions of the Patriot Act 2001 that treat foreign bank deposits as if held in the foreign bank's US Interbank account.

And there is the Extradition Act 2003, which reflected an inequality between Britain and the US, making it easier for US prosecuting authorities to extradite from Britain than for British prosecuting authorities to extradite from the US.

The tendency to ignore international obligations and substitute aggressive unilateral, protectionist policies is hardly a vice limited to the US. But the extent of US power and influence means that when the US misbehaves that misbehaviour has the greatest impact. In March 2003, Antigua and Barbuda complained to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about US laws that prohibited foreign access to the highly lucrative US internet gambling market. The WTO ruled that these US laws violated America's international obligations. The US should have legislated to comply with its international commitments, helping to safeguard the WTO's integrity. Instead, it announced that it would withdraw from its treaty commitments.

Meanwhile, in October 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA). The publicly listed and most responsible (mainly UK-listed) operators leading the industry immediately stopped taking US customers, at the cost of billions of dollars. These losses were not just to the few individuals most rewarded by the industry's success, but to all the institutional and individual investors in the companies and the other industries benefiting from WTO-sanctioned business in a multi-billion dollar industry.

The US nevertheless continues to act against those who withdrew from the market in 2006, while US businesses still operate in America free of interference or the risk of prosecution. The US seems untroubled by WTO findings. Nor is it deterred by an EU investigation into its discriminatory legislation and its violation of international trade principles. Remarkably, US companies are developing equivalent businesses in the UK and elsewhere in Europe on equal terms with UK and European businesses
. (emphasis added)

Many believe that American prosecutors will not rest until those associated with British online gaming are in jail or parties to multimillion-pound “settlements”. Among the UK companies, banks and businessmen threatened with prosecution for activities that were lawful when undertaken, David Carruthers, the Scottish former chief executive of BetOnSports, is under house arrest in St Louis on racketeering and conspiracy charges. And six weeks after that arrest, Peter Dicks, the chief executive of Sportingbet, was detained on entering the US. These British businessmen, who were acting completely lawfully, are being persecuted by retrospective American law.

There is a tendency among commentators to ignore international trade and business relations in favour of broader political and geopolitical concerns. But we should not need Adam Smith to remind us that it is in the fairness of everyday commercial dealings between nations that peace and harmony lie. America is in danger of overlooking this truth, when it acts unjustly and overlooks the interests of its allies and friends.


More on that so-called special relationship:

COUNTRY LIFE
Magazine Subscription
Interview, Robert Tuttle, ambassador
Protector of the special relationship
Dec. 3/08




Quote:
... This is Robert Tuttle's first diplomatic posting, taken up in 2005. He is, in fact, a car salesman.

His father, Holmes Tuttle, set up a car dealership in California in 1946. He sold a car to Ronald Reagan, and a friendship began between the pair. They campaigned together for the Republicans, and Holmes was one of those who urged Reagan to stand for governor of California.

When Reagan ran for President in 1980, Robert Tuttle co-chaired his campaign for California and then went to work for him at the White House, where he advised on presidential appointments. ...

How special is the special relationship? 'It's broad, wide and deep. You are our best friend and ally. (emphasis added) Every year, about 15,000 state, federal and local officials come to the UK to visit their British counterparts to learn, and to share information and ideas.' (-- p. 34)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

The New York Times Magazine
Magazine Subscription yes, but not without the dull clunker daily
Tariff To Nowhere
Will the Democrats come to their senses on trade?
By Roger Lowenstein
June 18/08


Quote:
More on yesterday's 'stinkin' thinkin' now threatening the same trade wars worldwide that led to the Great Depression.





Quote:
What has changed? In the first place, the supposed consensus was never so broad. Clinton passed his trade deals mostly with the votes of Republicans. And in the Bush years, economic troubles have stoked the fear that trade is costing Americans jobs, especially in the shrinking manufacturing sector.

This was also the fear in 1930, when the U.S. hiked tariffs, aggravating the world Depression. To the diplomats who reshaped the world’s economy after World War II, trade barriers were clearly a folly. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, signed in 1947, reduced tariffs around the globe. Seven successive treaties cut them more. Today the average tariff on U.S. imports is a meager 3 percent — down from 20 percent in 1940. Free or almost-free trade is a fact. Clinton greatly accelerated the process by signing Nafta, which created a free-trade zone with Mexico and Canada. Bush has signed 12 more bilateral deals, with countries ranging from Chile to Morocco. But Congress is balking at passing the most recent pact, with Colombia. ...

John McCain, an avid free trader, would surely try to reignite the Doha session. The more interesting question is what the Democrats would do. Obama may soften his populism in the fall, given that protectionists of late have not been winners in national elections. What’s more, if he were to win, he would have a difficult time governing as a protectionist. “There are two forces that will tend to move Obama to centrist positions,” Hufbauer says. Thanks to the cheap dollar, U.S. exports are booming; trade is now the economy’s strong suit. And Obama will find that China is less likely to cooperate on global warming, and the French less likely to lend a hand in Iraq, if our markets are closed to their products. Protectionism does not go down with a multilateral foreign policy.

And most economists, including those advising Obama, still support the old consensus, that trade promotes the general well-being even if it causes certain industries and their workers harm. The harm is difficult to measure, but trade is hardly the only culprit. Middle- and lower-income workers’ relative earning power started falling in the late 1970s — more than a decade before Nafta. In all likelihood, the loss of manufacturing jobs has more to do with productivity gains (the fact that it takes fewer employees to assemble a car, print a newspaper and so forth) than with trade.

Even Dani Rodrik, an economist at Harvard’s Kennedy School who, like Hillary Clinton, favors a time-out on new trade deals, isn’t antitrade. He argues that with trade accounting for fully 30 percent of the gross domestic product, the government should do more to cushion its effects. For instance, it could give workers displaced by trade wage insurance or early retirement.

And all discussions of the victims of trade ignore the considerable benefits: the exports we sell and the lower prices for consumers at home. Since poorer Americans spend a higher proportion of their incomes on low-wage imports (shoes from China, for instance), trade can also be seen as favoring the less well off. If only politicians would stop preaching to them otherwise. (emphasis added) (-- pgs. 15-16)


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While the cat was away ...

The Second World
Empires and Influence in the New Global Order
Hardcover
By Parag Khanna


Quote:
More about the book and its central theme.





Quote:
But Central America is also becoming a laboratory for the potential triumph of hemispheric integration. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has lowered U.S. tariffs, which should create jobs and raise exports as NAFTA did for Mexico. As the New York Times editorialized, CAFTA is "hardly likely to lift [the region's] economies into the 21st century, but it may be enough to lift them into the 20th century." At the same time, America's general neglect of the tiny markets of Central America and the Caribbean has allowed others to pick up the slack. Indeed, because American investors mostly seek large payoffs in countries like China, China itself has moved into Central America, building factories closer to the export market of the United States. America's embargo against its mini-nemesis Cuba has left the door open to China to become one of its largest investors (behind Venezuela but ahead of Canada), even as it occupies ex-Soviet spy posts and develops oil deposits, with Chinese flags flying over its rigs. (emphasis added) The case of Haiti is particularly embarrassing: The United States has occupied Haiti numerous times over the past century with the intent of stabilizing the island but has been unable to elevate it above its dubious distinction as the most destitute country in the hemisphere, located just several hundred miles from America's shore. Under UN auspices, it is Chinese, Chilean and Brazilian peacekeepers who have kept Haiti from a relapse into anarchy. One of the underemphasized benefits of globalization is that any small country feeling underserved by its large, wealthy neighbors can seek attention in the geopolitical marketplace. If America cannot demonstrate its hemispheric benevolence in its backyard, such leadership could rise northward from South America itself. (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added) (From Chapter 15, Mexico: the Umbilical Cord, p. 136)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More reasons to co-operate internationally:

Angels, Mobsters & Narco-Terrorists
The Rising Menace of Global Criminal Empires
Hardcover
By Frostback journalist Antonio Nicaso and Lee Lamothe


Quote:
More uniquely Russian Gambles.

More on Putin's alleged efforts to control St. Petersberg's gambling industry.





Quote:
...The rules of the vory v zakone include the following:

. A vor must support another vor in any and all circumstances.

. A vor can only live on what he has stolen or conned from a "citizen" or has won while gambling.

. A vor lives above and beyond the rules of State law.

. A vor must never serve in the armed forces.

. A vor must never defend himself in court, if charged with a crime of which he is innocent.

. A vor must take from other prisoners while in custody.

. A vor must agitate against the State while in custody; whenever he can he should exploit the weaknesses of his captors.

. A vor must find and train new young criminals and, if they're suitable, arrange for their acceptance into the underworld.

. A vor must find and train new young criminals and, if they're suitable, arrange for their acceptance into the underworld.

. A vor must never marry before the State; semi-permanent relationships are permitted; and a marriage involving a vor is akin to a master-slave relationship.

. A vor must donate money from his activities to an obshchak, a fund for the assistance of the other Thieves.

. A vor mustn't gamble more than he has; all gambling debts must be settled. (Vory V Zakone at p. 138)


Vor
The Thief
DVD




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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Post-American World
Hardcover
By Fareed Zakaria


Quote:
More of the book on the U.S. edge on post-secondary education and why America and Europe both need LOTS of immigrants.

Listen to Zakaria on the 'Rise of the Rest' on the BBC Forum Nov. 2/08.

More on yesterday's 'stinkin' thinkin' now threatening the same trade wars worldwide that led to the Great Depression.





Quote:
We are now living through the third great power shift of the modern era. It could be called "the rise of the rest." Over the past few decades, countries all over the world have been experiencing rates of economic growth that were once unthinkable. While they have had booms and busts, the overall trend has been unambiguously upward. This growth has been most visible in Asia but is no longer confined to it. That is why to call this shift "the rise of Asia" does not describe it accurately. In 2006 and 2007, 124 countries grew at a rate of 4 percent or more. That includes more than 30 countries in Africa, two-thirds of the continent. Antoine van Agtmael, the fund manager who coined the term "emerging markets," has identified the 25 companies most likely to be the world's next great multinationals. His list includes four companies each from Briazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan; three from India; two from China; and one each from Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and South Africa.

Look around. The tallest building in the world is now in Taipei, and it will soon be overtaken by one being built im Dubai. The world's richest man is Mexican, and its largest publicly traded corporation is Chinese. The world's biggest plane is built in Russia and Ukraine, its leading refinery is under construction in India, and its largest factories are all in China. By many measures, London is becoming the leading financial center, and the United Arab Emirates is home to the most richly endowed investment fund. Once quintessentially American icons have been appropriated by foreigners. The world's largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. Its number one casino is not in Las Vegas but in Macao, which has also overtaken Vegas in annual gambling revenues. The biggest movie industry, in terms of both movies made and tickets sold, is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Even shopping, America's greatest sporting activity, has gone global. Of the top ten malls in the world, only one is in the United States; the world's biggest is in Beijing. Such lists are arbitrary, but it is striking that only ten years ago, America was at the top in many, if not most, of these categories.

... in fact, the share of people living on a dollar a day or less plummeted from 40 percent in 1981 to 18 percent in 2004, and is estimated to fall to 12 percent by 2015. China's growth alone has lifted more than 400 million people out of poverty. Poverty is falling countries housing 80 percent of the world's population. ... In .... China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, Kenya, and South Africa - the poor are slowly being absorbed into productive and growing economies. For the first time ever, we are witnessing genuinely global growth. ... It is the birth of a new global order.

A related aspect of this new era is the diffusion of power from states to other actors. The "rest" that is rising includes many nonstate actors Groups and individuals have been empowered, and hierarchy, centralization, and control are being undermined. Functions that were once controlled by governments are now shared with international bodies like the World Trade Organization and the European Union. Non-governmental groups are mushrooming every day on every issue in every country. Corporations and capital are moving from place to place, finding the best location in which to do business, rewarding some governments while punishing others. Terrorists like Al Qaeda, drug cartels, insurgents, and militias of all kinds are finding space to operate within the nooks and crannies of the international system. Power is shifting away from nation-states, up, down, and sideways. In such an atmosphere, the traditional applications of national power, both economic and military, have become less effective.

The emerging international system is likely to be quite different from those that have preceded it. One hundred years ago, there was a multipolar order run by a collection of European governments, with constantly shifting alliances, rivalries, miscalculations, and wars. Then came the bipolar duopoly of the Cold War, more stable in many ways, but with the superpowers reacting and overreacting to each other's every move. Since 1991, we have lived under an American imperium, a unique unipolar world in which the the open global economy has expanded and accelerated dramatically. This expansion is now driving the next change in the nature of the international order. ((From the chapter entitled, The Rise of the Rest, pgs. 2-4)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

Open Veins of Latin America
Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Hardcover
By Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano
Translated by Cedric Belfrage


Quote:
More Cuba Libre.

More on yesterday's 'stinkin' thinkin' now threatening the same trade wars worldwide that led to the Great Depression.





Quote:
... The United States crisis of 1929 could not but have a fierce impact on so dependent and vulnerable an economy as Cuba's: the price of sugar sank well below $.01 by 1932, and in three years the value of exports fell by 75 percent. At that time the unemployment index would have been hard to match in any other country.

What happened to prices was repeated in volume of exports. The United States lowered export duties on Cuban sugar in exchange for similar privileges for the U.S. exports to Cuba, but such "favors" only consolidated Cuba's dependence. By 1948 Cuba had recovered its quota to the point of supplying one-third of the U.S. sugar market, at prices lower than U.S. producers received but higher and more stable than those in the international market. Sugar production was arbitrarily limited by Washington's needs. The 1925 level of some five million tons remained the average through the 1950s; dictator Fulgencio Batista took power in 1952 on the heels of the biggest harvest in Cuban history - over seven million tons - with the mission of tightening the screws, and in the following year production, obedient to the demand of the north, fell to four million tons.* When Batista fell in 1959, Cuba was selling almost all its sugar to the United States. As Marti said and Che Guevara quoted at the OAS Punta del Este conference in 1961,

"The nation that buys commands, the nation that sells serves; it is necessary to balance trade in order to ensure freedom; the country that wants to die sells only to one country, and the country that wants to survive sells to more than one." ...

... By 1850 the United States was absorbing one-third of all Cuban trade, selling it more and buying more from it than Spain, whose colony it was; the Stars and Stripes fluttered from more than half the ships arriving at the island. A Spanish travelerfournd U.S.-made sewing machines in remote Cuban villages in 1859. The main streets of Havana were paved with New England granite.

At the dawn of the twentieth century one could read in the Louisiana Planter: "Little by little the whole island of Cuba is passing into the hands of U.S. citizens, which is the simplest and safest way to obtain annexation to the United States." (From King Sugar and Other Agricultural Monarchs, pgs. 82-83)


Quote:
* Note: The director of the United States Department of Agriculture's sugar program declared soon after the Revolution: "Since Cuba has left the scene, we cannot count on that country, the world's largest exporter, which always had enough reserves to supply our market when need arose.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cartoon version of the U.S. decision to slash GATS rather than comply with the WTO ruling for Antigua in the Internet gambling dispute:

Spongebob Squarepants - The Movie
DVD

Quote:
View the trailer


Quote:
More on the U.S. intention revealed in 2005 to disregard the ruling and withdraw gambling from GATS.

Contrast the GATS-slash decision with President Clinton's lofty trade goals.

Note, too, the double-standard in Europe.





Quote:
Evil Plankton: Plan Z. Here it is. Just like you said.

Plankton's computer wife: Ohhh, boy..

Plankton: It's evil. It's diabolical. It's lemon-scented. This Plan Z can't possibly fail! So enjoy today, Mr. Krabs, because by tomorrow, I'll have the formula. Then everyone will eat at the Chum Bucket, and I will rule the world! All hail, Plankton! All hail Plank---

Spongebob (humming along cheerfully, absently stepping on Plankton): I'm ready. Promotion. ... Ew, I think I stepped on something.

Plankton (after Bob painfully scrapes him off his shoe - twice!): Not on something, on someone, you twit.

Bob: Oh, sorry, Plankton. Are you on your way to the grand-opening ceremony?

Plankton: No, I am not on my way to the grand-opening ceremony. I'm busy planning to rule the world!

Bob: Well...good luck with that.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On federalism and the future of the WTO gambling dispute:

The Register
Antigua attorney speaks out on landmark WTO case
DOJ, USTR keep heads in sand
By Burke Hansen
July 16/07


Quote:
This case is all about the DoJ, says Antigua lead counsel. More of the interview.

STILL MORE of the interview.


Quote:
What role does the DOJ play in this? The USTR represents the US at the WTO, but they still work with the DOJ on establishing the legal position of the US government, correct? ]The DOJ has taken a very hard line position on the internet gambling industry, and that seems to be reflected in this case.

... Again, it really isn't a moral issue. Although you hear a bunch of that nonsense from the halls of Congress, all you need to do is look at gambling in America to know that the morality thing, if it ever was an issue, has long been thrown out the window.

In some ways it is a federalist issue, as the United States is almost unique among nations today in the powers it gives to its member states. On the other hand, the WTO agreements are member-to-member only and countries like Antigua are entitled to look to the central government for redress. That being said, it drawing its commitments schedule to the GATS, the United States could have addressed the gambling issue on a state-by-state basis, as it did in other areas such as financial services and legal services. But here, it did not do that, so whatever a state says about gambling is, from a completely legal perspective, irrelevant to Antigua and its rights under the GATS.

Quote:
You have intimate knowledge of this case - just where do you think it really goes from here?

The Big Lebowski
DVD




To paraphrase The Dude, Antigua abides! We are going to press on here. Everything we are facing currently is unchartered territory, and the good thing about that is that you are free to make whatever claims you feel you can justify and take whatever trail you think you can convince the WTO to follow. Our thinking in this case has never been square-headed and it is not about to get to be at this point. What we really hope for here is that the United States will gain some reason and look to compromise, finally.

Antigua didn't bring this case so it can sell cheap Microsoft products or DVDs. This case was brought on behalf of a regulated, fair domestic gambling and betting industry. Antigua wants to be able to provide these services to American consumers, who very clearly want them. While there is still large ground for compromise, at the end of the day Antigua wants and deserves to be able to offer these services on some agreed and rational basis. Let's hope that wisdom prevails here, and this whole dispute becomes just a footnote to WTO history rather than a defining moment.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the mythical 'trickle-down effects' of Chicago School economics:

From Losing Streak:

The Shock Doctrine
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Paperback
By Naomi Klein


Quote:
More on the global financial crisis and how to fix it.





Quote:
When Milton Friedman died in November 2006, many of the obituaries were imbued with a sense of fear that his death marked the end of an era. ...

(dull Canuck news columnist Terry) Corcoran's assessment did not begin to encompass the state of disarray in which the quest for unfettered capitalism found itself that November. Friedman's intellectual heirs in the United States, the neo-cons who launched the disaster capitalism complex, were at the lowest point in their history. The movement's pinnacle had been the winning of the U.S. Congress by the Republicans in 1994; just nine days before Friedman's death, they lost it again to a Democratic majority. The three key issues that contributed to the Republican defeat in the 2006 midterm elections were political corruption, the mismanagement of the Iraq war and the perception, best articulated by a winning Democratic candidate for the U.S. senate, Jim Webb, that the country had drifted "toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century." In each case, the core tenets of Chicago School economics - privatization, deregulation and cuts to government services - had laid the foundation for the breakdown. ...

... For (Orlando of Chile) Letelier, it was obvious that the dictatorship's "free market" rules were doing exactly what they were designed to do: they were not creating a perfectly harmonious economy but turning the already wealthy into the super-rich and the organized working class into the disposable poor. These patterns of stratification have been repeated everywhere that the Chicago School ideology had triumphed. In China, despite its stunning economic growth, the gap between the incomes of city dwellers and the 800 million rural poor has doubled over the past twenty years. In Argentina, where in 1970 the richest 10 percent of the population earned 12 times as much as the poorest, the rich were by 2002 earning 43 times as much. Chile's "political success" has truly been globalized. In December 2006, a month after Friedman died, a UN study found that "the richest 2 percent of adults int he world own more than half of global household wealth." The shift has been starkest in the U.S., where CEOs earned 411 times as much. For those executives, the counter-revolution that began in the basement of the Social Sciences building in the 1950s has indeed been a success, but the cost of that victory has been the widespread loss of faith in the core free-market promise - that increased wealth will be shared. As Webb said during the midterm campaign, "Trickle-down economics didn't happen."

The hoarding of so much wealth by a tiny minority of the world's population was not a peaceful process, as we have seen, nor, often, was it a legal one. Corcoran was right to question the calibre of the movement's leadership, but the problem was not simply that there were no figureheads of Friedman's stature. It was that many of the men who had been on the the front lines of the international drive to liberate the markets from all restrictions were at that moment caught up in an astonishing array of scandals and criminal proceedings, dating from the earliest laboratories in Latin America to the most recent one in Iraq. Throughout its thirty-five-year history, the Chicago School agenda has advanced through the intimate co-operation of powerful business figures, crusading ideologues and strong-arm political leaders. By 2006, key players from each camp were either in jail or up on charges. (From the chapter, Shock Wears Off, The Rise of People's Reconstruction, Conclusion, pgs. 533-534)


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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How Western-style property rights would allow developing countries to fully exploit the value of their resources:

From Unusual Bets:

The Mystery of Capital
Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
Paperback
By Hernando De Soto




Quote:
Think of Bill Gates, the world's most successful and wealthiest entrepreneur. Apart from his personal genius, how much of his success is due to his cultural background and his "Protestant ethic"? And how much is due to the legal property system of the United States?

How many software innovations could he have made without patents to protect them? How many deals and long-term projects could he have carried out without enforceable contracts? How many risks could he have taken at the beginning without limited liability systems and insurance policies? How much capital could he have accumulated without property records in which to fix and store that capital? How many resources could he have pooled without fungible property representations? How many other people would he have made millionaires without being able to distribute stock options? How many economies of scale could he have benefited from if he had to operate on the basis of dispersed cottage industries that could not be combined? How would he pass on the rights to his empire to his children and colleagues without hereditary succession?

I do not think Bill Gates or any entrepreneur in the West could be successful without property rights systems based on a strong, well-integrated social contract. I humbly suggest that before any brahmin who lives in a bell jar tries to convince us that succeeding at capitalism requires certain cultural traits, we should first try to see what happens when developing and former communist countries establish property rights systems that can create capital for everyone.

Throughout history people have confused the efficiency of the representational tools they have inherited to create surplus value with the inherent values of their culture. They forget that often what gives an edge to a particular group of people is the innovative use they make of a representational system developed by another culture. For example, Northerners had to copy the legal institutions of ancient Rome to organize themselves and learn the Greek alphabet and the Arabic number symbols and systems to convey information and calculate. And so, today, few are aware of the tremendous edge that formal property systems have given Western societies. As a result, many Westerners have been led to believe that what underpins their successful capitalism is the work ethic they have inherited or the existential anguish created by their religions - in spite of the fact that people all over the world all work had when they can and that existential angst or overbearing mothers are not Calvinist or Jewish monipolies. (I am as anxious as any Calvinist in history, espeically on Sunday evenings, and in the overbrearing mother sweepstakes, I would put mine in Peru up against any woman in New York.) Therefore, a a great part of the research agenda needed to explain why capitalism fails outside the West remains mired in a mass of unexamined and largely untestable assumptions labeled "culture", whose main effect is to allow too many of those who live in the privileged enclaves of this world to enjoy feeling superior.

One day these cultural arguments will peel away as the hard evidence of the effects of good political institutions and property law sink in. ... (From By Way of Conclusion, pgs. 223-225)


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