1. Trump’s trade deal will make us collateral damage
Kevin Rudd’s AFR article Trade deal will not stop US and China drifting apart gives us the lowdown. From the URL his heading was probably Trade war truce a symbol of the US unhinged. Seems Trump banged on for an hour about incoherent nonsense at the announcement while the head Chinese trade negotiator stood patiently by.
Rudd says intellectual property theft will be criminalised in China for the first time. Good in principle, but you will need to make your case in Chinese courts.
There are advances in other areas, says Rudd, but the second part of the trade deal:
- mandated [a] $US200 billion increase in Chinese imports from America over two years, using 2017 as the benchmark. Given that the US exported a total of $US127 billion to China in 2017, this is a mind-boggling number. And the increase is projected to be sustained until 2025! This is mercantilism writ large.
It gets worse. The $US200 billion gets subdivided into $US77 billion in US manufactures; $US32 billion in agriculture; $US52 billion in energy; and $37 billion in the services sector. This begins to sound like the production targets contained in Stalin’s five-year plans for the old Soviet Union.
The ABC report says the optics of the deal could help Trump politically. Get a look at these graphs:
- “In volume terms, China is now the number one export market for a wide range of Australian food and ag products: wool, cotton, wine, barley, beef, sheepmeat, dairy, almonds, citrus, table grapes and rock lobsters.”
According to Zachary Karabell at Politico The US-China Trade Deal Was Not Even a Modest Win. The goal appears to be “to fracture the economic relationship with China permanently, and succeeding in hobbling the U.S.-China economic entwinement”. It can only be deemed a success if it “demonstrably strengthens the United States going forward” and the evidence for that is lacking.
Karabell says the deal gets the relationship basically back to where it was under Obama. Nouriel Roubini says Trump Will Make China Great Again.
2. The past lives on within us
Rachel Perkins, film maker and daughter of Charlie, makes the case for a treaty process with Indigenous peoples in her final Boyer Lecture. I don’t think I’ve heard a more articulate account of the Aboriginal experience of the British invasion, and how the trauma of what happened continues to affect the internal and external experience of the genocidal takeover of the land.
As it happened, on the same day Phillip Adams ran a repeat of his long-form interview with Henry Reynolds. When Reynolds started to write about Aboriginal history he was told by a senior historian that there was nothing much to write about.
When we grow up we’ll do something about Australia Day. We will also commemorate Aboriginal heroes who fought the invader and recognise Aboriginal history either in a special section of the Australia Museum, or in a separate institution.
3. Mercator map misleads
Greenland is minuscule, but the real shockers were Russia/Siberia, Canada, and even the US and China.
4. Prospects for world economic growth
Jim O’Neill at Project Syndicate asks Has the World Economy Reached Peak Growth?
He thinks demographic reality will catch up with Europe, Japan and China as the population ages. The US is unlikely to exceed 2%. Russia and Brazil would need a commodities boom, which is unlikely.
That leaves India and the whole continent of Africa, which is about equivalent to India in population terms.
So it looks as though, short of a significant jump in productivity, things will probably muddle on.
He doesn’t mention climate change with attendant disasters, stranded assets, social and economic disruption. If you feel up to it, John Davidson has just sent me a link to:
- A new report from McKinsey Global Institute [which, for example,] looks at the risk of extreme heat in India along with eight other case studies of the potential physical risks of climate change over the next three decades, from the future of the food supply in Africa to the economic impact of rising sea levels and devalued houses in Florida.
5. Trump impeachment
I should mention that the US is likely to be disrupted in the next two weeks because of Trump impeachment.
The ABC has looked at the five possible outcomes. two are already ruled out, but really there is only one. The Senate will go through the motions, but the votes aren’t there in the Senate for impeachment.
However, the proceedings will be like a court, so Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will be diverted from campaigning, possibly for a couple of weeks. They can’t bring in phones or lap tops, so they’ll all have to sit and listen.
However, I assume Trump will be tweeting like a bird, because he doesn’t need to show.
6. The US according to Stiglitz
In The Truth About the Trump Economy Joseph Stiglitz finds that the top 1% are doing well, the top 0.1% are doing brilliantly, but for most people the place is a bit of a dump and getting worse.
Life expectancy and morbidity are good indicators of the health and wealth of the nation:
- To get a good reading on a country’s economic health, start by looking at the health of its citizens. If they are happy and prosperous, they will be healthy and live longer. Among developed countries, America sits at the bottom in this regard. US life expectancy, already relatively low, fell in each of the first two years of Trump’s presidency, and in 2017, midlife mortality reached its highest rate since World War II. This is not a surprise, because no president has worked harder to make sure that more Americans lack health insurance. Millions have lost their coverage, and the uninsured rate has risen, in just two years, from 10.9% to 13.7%.
One reason for declining life expectancy in America is what Anne Case and Nobel laureate economist Angus Deaton call deaths of despair, caused by alcohol, drug overdoses, and suicide. In 2017 (the most recent year for which good data are available), such deaths stood at almost four times their 1999 level.(Emphasis added)
The only time he has seen the like was Russia after it got rid of communism. Also:
the median wage of a full-time male worker (and those with full-time jobs are the lucky ones) is still more than 3% below what it was 40 years ago.
The growth under Trump, such as it is:
is not environmentally sustainable – and even less so thanks to the Trump administration’s gutting of regulations that have passed stringent cost-benefit analyses. The air will be less breathable, the water less drinkable, and the planet more subject to climate change. In fact, losses related to climate change have already reached new highs in the US, which has suffered more property damage than any other country – reaching some 1.5% of GDP in 2017.
So he concludes:
Trump’s brand is uncertainty, volatility, and prevarication, whereas trust, stability, and confidence are essential for growth. So is equality, according to the International Monetary Fund.
7. Here in Oz
John Davidson has just sent around a link Australia has slightly fewer billionaires, but their wealth is still increasing says Oxfam:
- Australia’s rich keep getting richer, with the top 1 per cent of Australians having more than double the wealth of the entire bottom 50 per cent — or more than 12.5 million people – according to Oxfam.
- Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said the top 1 per cent of Australians, just 250,000 people, owned nearly $US1.6 trillion — equating to 22.2 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
“This concentration of wealth in the hands of the super-rich is occurring while the share of wealth of the bottom half of our community has decreased over the last decade and workers’ wages continue to stagnate in Australia,” she said.
- the wealth of Australian billionaires, who are mostly men, grew by an average of $US460 million from 2018 to 2019.
Poor fellow my country.
Oxfam said taxing an additional 0.5 per cent of the wealth of the richest 1 per cent over the next 10 years is equal to investments needed to create 117 million jobs in education, health, elderly care and other sectors to close care deficits.