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Krugman writes: "O.K., they weren't supposed to start the trade war until I got back from vacation. And I really have too many kilometers to cover and hills to climb to weigh in on a regular basis or at great length."

Economist Paul Krugman. (photo: Getty Images)
Economist Paul Krugman. (photo: Getty Images)

Killing the Pax Americana

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

12 May 19

Trump’s trade war is about more than economics.

.K., they weren’t supposed to start the trade war until I got back from vacation. And I really have too many kilometers to cover and hills to climb to weigh in on a regular basis or at great length. But since I’m currently sitting in an outdoor cafe with my coffee and croissant, I thought I might take a few minutes to address two misconceptions that, I believe, are coloring discussion of the trade conflict.

By the way, I don’t mean Trump’s misconceptions. As far as I can tell, he isn’t getting a single thing about trade policy right. He doesn’t know how tariffs work, or who pays them. He doesn’t understand what bilateral trade imbalances mean, or what causes them. He has a zero-sum view of trade that flies in the face of everything we’ve learned over the past two centuries. And to the (small) extent that he is making any coherent demands on China, they’re demands China can’t/won’t meet.

But Trump’s critics, while vastly more accurate than he is, also, I think, get a few things wrong, or at least overstate some risks while understating others. On one side, the short-run costs of trade war tend to be overstated. On the other, the long-term consequences of what’s happening are bigger than most people seem to realize.


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+12 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-05-12 14:57
Not that the ‘Pax Americana’ has been any less Imperial than the Pax Romana. But now the Barbarians have wormed their way into Washington, & they’re real Vandals.
+4 # futhark 2019-05-12 21:24
I don't think that Donald Trump ever pretended to be anything other than the wrecking ball we have been watching causing havoc in the Oval Office over the last couple of years. The Republican principle of weakening all branches of the government except the military until it can be drowned in a bathtub seems to be almost universally applied. The question of when he will get around to repeating W.'s offhanded remark that the Constitution is only a piece of paper is still open.
+8 # PaineRad 2019-05-12 17:29
Sorry to break it to you, Prof. Krugman, but Pax Americana died decades ago, replaced by the dominion of multinational corporations. Comparative advantage was rendered a slick phrase but utterly dishonest by global flows of capital. Global capital has brought about a new order, but not one of democratization , one of authoritarian abuse of all herded into its web.
+5 # Salus Populi 2019-05-13 12:41
The so-called "pax americana == derisively labeled the "pox" americana by its critics -- was an example of "largely benign" U.S. hegemony?!

The U.S. has been directly responsible for up to 30 *million* premature deaths through violence of other non-U.S.ian human beings since WWII.

The IMF is notorious for its draconian prescriptions on debtor countries, which always amount to "take it out on the populace at large," since that way we keep the allegiance of the elites who largely and in some cases exclusively benefited from the original loans.

And as a byproduct, this keeps our military happily ensconced in two-thirds of the world's sovereign countries, just in case the hardships visited upon the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the "host" country's population get tired of being robbed, and revolt.

As to NATO, the international arm of the military industrial complex that the U.S. economy has pretty much been turned into, need we say more than "Yugoslavia," "Libya," "not one inch," and "Afghanistan"? It is the most malign getting-to-be global military force on the planet today.

Anyone who states as fact that the U.S.'s role in world trade, politics, promotion of democracy, or virtually any other aspect of our country's entire period of existence on the face of the Earth has been "largely benevolent is either ignorant, seriously deluded, or a gatekeeper/prop agandist. It will be a great day for the rest of humanity when the U.S. finally collapses into ruin.
+2 # librarian1984 2019-05-14 16:23
'Pax Americana'?! What a joke. The US has been at war for decades.

Rather see a Greenwald or Cjomsky article than anything by Hack Krugman.

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