More saber rattling and pretend I’m one of you guys routine by Clinton:
time.com/time/magazine/artic … 09,00.html
I was reading the transcript of a recent Hillary Clinton campaign speech when I got that weird feeling of déjà vu. Clinton was in Pittsburgh, going on and on about trade with China. She promised to “stand up to China and other non–market countries,” which, she claimed, “subsidize their exports and put our manufacturers at a disadvantage.” The U.S. needs “to immediately and aggressively crack down on China’s unfair trade practices,” including “currency manipulation,” which she deemed “outrageous.” Her goal, she said, was “leveling the playing field for our manufacturers with smart fair trade.”
In the 1980s the U.S. had another paranoid, apoplectic fit about a rising Asian power. Twenty years ago, the bad guy wasn’t China but an ascendant Japan, which was out to destroy the U.S. with its unfairly well built sedans, VCRs and microchips. The ballooning trade deficit with Japan was the hot–button political issue of the day, just as the yawning deficit with China is today.[/quote]
To get an idea of just how similar the attacks on Japan were in the 1980s to those launched at China today, take a read of these comments by Lee Iacocca, made when he was chief at Chrysler (before the Germans bought it, then dumped it). He wrote in his autobiography that “our economic struggle with the Japanese is critical to our future” but that “the field where this game is being played is not level.” He complained that “their currency manipulation is enough to bring you to your knees.” The solution, he determined, was to “replace free trade with fair trade.” “We have to take action,” he insisted. “If Japan — or any other nation — protects its markets, we should be doing the same.”
First of all, the causes of the trade disputes then and now are very much alike. In both cases, Americans blamed other countries for problems they created themselves. In the late 1980s, Akio Morita, Sony’s flamboyant co–founder, was one of the most outspoken about Japan’s economic conflicts with America. He argued that all of the bickering about currency rates and corporate practices were somewhat irrelevant. The U.S. trade deficit, he wrote at the time, was “a result of commercial transactions based on preferences.” Translation: Americans simply wanted to buy lots of things from Japan. The problem was that “American politicians fail to understand this simple fact.”
Um. farm subsidies anyone?