Category Archives: Media Appearances

Tariffs and Vaping

Trade really does affect everything. Michael McGrady quotes me on tariffs and intellectual property reform in a piece on how the trade war is affecting the vaping industry.

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CEI Press Release on 4.1 Percent GDP Growth in Q2 2018

Cross-posted from CEI.org. The short version: this week’s growth report is good news, but the long-term outlook is less rosy.

The Department of Commerce announced Friday morning the U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018.

CEI Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray said:

“Today’s growth numbers are yet more proof that supply-side policies work. Freeing up labor and capital by reducing the burden of government regulation and taxation will lead to high growth, more opportunity, more innovation, and lower unemployment. This rising tide will lift all boats, so it is important both that these policies continue and no new policies, like trade barriers, contradict them.”

CEI Fellow Ryan Young said:

“Four percent economic growth is wonderful news. An economy can double in size in just 18 years at that pace. While President Trump deserves much of the criticism he gets for his economic policies, his slowing of regulatory growth and some short-term benefits from his income tax cut probably helped boost growth.

“The long-term outlook is less sanguine. The extra debt from the tax cut will have to be repaid, dampening growth. And as the economic effects from his tariffs begin to be felt, growth could noticeably slow as soon as this year. Most troubling are Trump’s rumblings about exercising more control over the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to be politically independent. If there is anything economists across the political spectrum hold sacred, it is the price system. Politicians toy with it at our peril, as Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon found out.

“If President Trump restrains his impulses, the near future will be as bright as today’s report. If not, rough economic times are ahead.”

CEI Press Release: CEI Criticizes European Union’s Antitrust Decision Against Google

The European Union announced its decision today to fine Google $5 billion in an antitrust case involving the tech giant’s Android operating system. Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) regulatory experts lamented the decision.

CEI fellow Ryan Young said the following about the news:

The European Union’s $5 billion antitrust decision against Google’s Android operating system could cause immense consumer harm by requiring Google to provide an inferior product for no good reason.

The decision is reminiscent of the EU’s similarly baseless crusade against Microsoft in the 1990s and 2000s. Not only are Google’s Android operating system, Chrome browser, Maps, Calendar, and other applications already available free of charge to consumers, but Google provides consumers easy access to competitors’ software through its Google Play app store.

Just as consumers used Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer browser to install Firefox and other competing software they liked better, unsatisfied Google users have easy, often free access to competing products. They can also leave the Google ecosystem entirely by buying an Apple iPhone. The real threat to innovation and consumers here is the EU, not Google.

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews also commented on the decision:

Dominance and popularity are not the same as a coercive monopoly. The European Commission is behaving in protectionist fashion, not in a manner benefitting consumers, and the fines are inappropriate, unwarranted, and plain wrong. Google is no monopoly, as the existence of Apple’s iPhone and other options attest; and there is always some new disruptive technology on the horizon (remember the MySpace monopoly? The AOL one?).

Different vendors have the right to test out different business models without interference from regulatory authorities, and consumers have the right to accept or reject them. And the core justification, the European Commission’s idea that people, otherwise capable of downloading millions of files on Play and iPhone mobile stores, cannot substitute a search engine or other preinstalled app is absurd on its face.

There are many ways that predatory antitrust adventurism, such as that of the European Commission and the United States alike, must be reformed to prevent future damage to the technology sector. The very phrase “competition commissioner” is internally contradictory, and stands in stark contrast to the phrase free enterprise.

Read more from CEI’s Wayne Crews: “European Regulators Wrong on Google Fine, Wrong on Antitrust Policy

Pro-Market, Not Pro-Business

Charles Sauer’s new book Profit Motive: What Drives the Things We Do quotes from a paper Iain Murray and I coauthored:

Young Murray cite Sauer Profit Motive

The book is here. See also Iain’s and my paper “The Rising Tide: Answering the Right Questions in the Inequality Debate,” and our companion paper “People, Not Ratios: Asking the Wrong Questions in the Inequality Debate.”

Will Trump’s Tariffs Spell the End of Free Markets?

The short answer: no. But the new and upcoming tariffs certainly don’t help matters, here or abroad. I tackle that question in a piece for Inside Sources:

The president’s threats must be fought, but the good news is America’s fundamental institutions will withstand Trumpian bluster. For one thing, our economy remains a powerhouse. America’s $19 trillion economy already withstands an annual $1.9 trillion in annual regulatory costs from Washington. On top of that, Trump’s tariffs will cost “only” a few billion dollars. In short, the economy is dragging along a big, deadweight burden, but it can still get the job done…

Even in trade, where the Trump administration poses the greatest threat to free enterprise, America has been liberalizing for more than 75 years. The Smoot-Hawley tariff bill of 1930 raised America’s average tariff to more than 60 percent and worsened the Great Depression. But today tariffs are closer to 5 percent (source: Douglas Irwin, “Clashing Over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy,” p. 8), and Trump’s targeted tariffs likely won’t raise that figure more than a decimal point. Trump is reversing a long history of openness, but so far it’s small potatoes. If economists, Congress, and the World Trade Organization all do their jobs, it will stay that way.

In the meantime, defenders of the classical liberal enlightenment traditions of international openness and free trade will be very busy standing up to the administration’s latest populist outburst. Read the whole thing here.

For more CEI tariff coverage, see here by Iain Murray and here by me. For more on Trump’s threat to the values that made America great, see Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.”

Media Appearances

Trade and regulation have both been hot issues lately. Since those are two of the main issues on my beat, I’ve been pretty busy lately:

  • Inside Sources is syndicating an op-ed arguing that America’s classical liberal institutions are stronger than Trump’s passing populist fancy.
  • CEI press release on President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
  • Which was quoted in an Investor’s Business Daily editorial.
  • And in City AM, a daily newspaper in London (see p. 3, cont’d from a story on p. 1).My recent post about Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro was quoted on CNN. Don’t know what day or which program, but one of my colleagues sent along the following transcript:

[00:25:07] To put it another way, it cost about $400,000 per job saved in the steel industry. OK, and the outcome this time doesn’t look much better. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the levies could save as many as 33,000 jobs in the steel and aluminum industries, this comes at a great cost. Downstream industries that use steel and aluminum such as automobiles, construction (inaudible) will face higher costs, passed on to consumers with higher prices, could cost those other industries 179,000 jobs.

I’ll post more as they come.

On the Radio: Income Inequality

Regular readers know that Iain Murray and I recently released a pair of papers on economic inequality, People, Not Ratios and The Rising Tide. I had the opportunity to sit down with RealClear Radio Hour‘s Bill Frezza to discuss them while in DC recently to attend CEI’s annual dinner.

My segment was sandwiched between Clemson University economist Bruce Yandle, of Baptist and Bootleggers fame, and Steve Forbes. I deserve no place on such a billing, and can only consider it an honor.

The show, as aired, is here. Yandle and Forbes, as always, are essential listening.

An extended version of my segment is here.