Posts Tagged ‘free trade’

September 19 roundup

  • Paradox of Jones Act: by jacking up shipping costs from mainland, it can give goods made overseas artificial price advantage [Cato Daily Podcast with Colin Grabow] Trade wars are immensely destructive, hurting producers and consumers alike, and the latest is no exception [Reuters on China retaliation]
  • Joel Kotkin-Michael Greve exchange on localism at Liberty and Law [Kotkin, Greve]
  • Government demands for encrypted data pose threat to digital privacy [Erin Dunne, D.C. Examiner]
  • “New York’s transportation establishment will not reduce prices to world standards as long as it can demand quintuple the world standard and get away with it” [Connor Harris, City Journal]
  • “The Fair Housing Act prohibits ‘making, printing, or publishing’ any ‘notice, statement, or advertisement’ with respect to ‘the sale or rental of a dwelling’ that indicates any racial preference or discrimination. Does this mean that Ohio county recorders violate the law when they maintain property records that contain unenforceable, decades-old racially restrictive covenants? Sixth Circuit: No need to answer that question, because the plaintiff doesn’t have standing.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit”, on Mason v. Adams County Recorder]
  • Trademark-go-round: “Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition With Monsta Pizza In The UK” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt] “Disney Gets Early Loss In Trademark, Copyright Suit Against Unlicensed Birthday Party Characters” [same] “Two Georgia Sausage Companies Battle Over Trademarked Logos That Aren’t Particularly Similar” [same]

September 5 roundup

  • Event barns booming as wedding venues, but some owners of traditional banquet halls want them to be subject to heavier regulation, as by requiring use of licensed bartenders [Stephanie Morse, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
  • Protectionism and smuggling in ancien regime France: “Before Drug Prohibition, There Was the War on Calico” [Virginia Postrel]
  • Thread unpacks “Big Ag bad, family farms good” platitudes [Sarah Taber]
  • “An Oklahoma judge has agreed to resign after he was accused of using his contempt powers to jail people for infractions such as leaving sunflower seeds in his courtroom and talking in court” [ABA Journal]
  • Update: North Carolina gerrymandering plaintiffs back off, concede impracticality of using new maps in time for upcoming election [Robert Barnes, Washington Post, earlier]
  • “Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will, Bequeathing Estate Issues To Her Heirs” [Caron/TaxProf]

August 22 roundup

Caught in their own wringer

“American firms cheering for protectionism in the form of tariffs on their foreign competitors should be careful what they wish for. As they say, ‘What goes around comes around.’ Case in point: The American washer and dryer manufacturer Whirlpool Corp.,” which applauded tariffs on imports of washing machines and then found its own costs of production soaring when steel and aluminum imports also came under tariffs. [Veronique de Rugy, syndicated; @SoberLook on Twitter]

June 20 roundup

  • “Egregious” conduct: Fourth Circuit upholds $150,000 sanctions against attorneys who “challenged the authenticity of a loan agreement for two years before revealing that they possessed an identical copy, obtained from their client, before filing the complaint.” [Six v. Generations Federal Credit Union]
  • Food bill: Congress seems intent on not letting the public find out how well grocers do from the SNAP program [Jonathan Ellis, USA Today]
  • “Why Trump’s Higher Tariffs Now are Unlikely to Result in Lower Tariffs Later” [Coyote]
  • After 10 years, Nathan Myhrvold’s patent assertion fund idea hasn’t done so well [Nathan Vardi, Forbes]
  • Potential of “cottage food” laws remains unrealized [Baylen Linnekin]
  • Why noted regulation critic David Schoenbrod is also critical of the regulatory reform proposal known as REINS [Philip Wallach, Real Clear Policy]

NAFTA not nannyish enough for NYT

Advocates claiming the mantle of public health would like to introduce scary new warnings on foods high in sugar, salt, or fat, and restrict marketing, as by banning the use of cartoon characters. For years they’ve been trying to advance their schemes through the use of international organizations and institutions, but now the United States, or at least its federal government, has begun pushing back. The New York Times doesn’t like that one bit and my latest Cato post examines the difference between what a principled position might look like, and the position the Times actually takes. Excerpt:

Like international organizations, treaty administration bodies tend to draw for guidance on an elite stratum of professional diplomats, conference-goers, NGO and nonprofit specialists, and so forth, most of whom are relatively insulated from any pushback in public opinion. That might be a good reason to minimize the role of transnational panels in governance where not absolutely necessary. It is not a good reason to adopt the Times’s implicit position on lobbying for international standards, which is that it’s fine when done by our side but illegitimate when done by yours.

Related: Good piece on sugar/fat wars, with one proviso: when it’s Stanton Glantz spreading a tale, don’t just call it “University of California” [David Merritt Johns and Gerald M. Oppenheimer, Slate]

President imposes steel and aluminum tariffs

“Despite the myth that US manufacturing is in decline — and despite the very real decline in manufacturing employment— US industrial output is nearly double what it was 30 years ago. Very often, American manufacturers are in the business of making things out of steel and aluminum.” [Josh Barro] While, to paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in trade war, trade war is interested in you [Axios on prospects for retaliation and economic damage] On the aluminum angle, Virginia Postrel in November. On the defense angle: Peter Coy, Bloomberg. More commentary: Dan Ikenson/Cato, Mickey Levy/Manhattan Institute. Will Trump quietly change course, as he earlier reversed an order that the Keystone XL pipeline be built only with American steel? [Simon Lester]

I’m quoted saying “that the tariff decision could be a big step backward for U.S. economic policy under Trump” [Trey Barrineau, trade journal DWM Magazine]:

Walter Olson, a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., said in a Facebook post on Friday that the tariff decision could be a big step backward for U.S. economic policy under Trump.

“There are few topics on which economists of different stripes are as unanimous in their opinion as in their disapproval of protectionism and tariffs,” he said. “It would take only a few policy mistakes like this to cancel out a lot of the positive economic value contributed by this administration through such measures as regulatory relief, tax reform, and permit streamlining.”

The U.S. Constitution entrusts tariff policy squarely to the legislative branch, so if senators don’t like how Trump is handling things, they should promptly repeal the laws they passed delegating their power to him, and instead take back for themselves direct authority over the issue [Ira Stoll] “It’s time for Congress to step up to the plate.” [Colin Grabow, The Hill]

State of the Union address 2018 live-tweets

I live-tweeted President Trump’s address last night (text) and here are some highlights:

More on family leave here.

December 20 roundup

  • Craft brewery regs, Peter Angelos has another special bill in Annapolis, county council vetoes on development, and more in my latest Maryland roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Oh, that pro bono: celebrity lawyer’s pro bono contract for sex accusers included up to one-third commission on selling their stories to media outlets [John Solomon and Alison Spann, The Hill]
  • Forget that Viking cruise down the Mississippi River, Jones Act makes it a no-go [WQAD] “The Jones Act costs all Americans too much” [Bloomberg View editorial; earlier here, etc.]
  • Cato Daily Podcast with firearms policy expert David Kopel on interstate right to carry and restricting bump stocks;
  • Not-so-nastygram in beer biz: “As far as cease and desists go, this is about as good as it gets.” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Between Puerto Rico and food shipments, the Jones Act

After a brief suspension during the moment of maximum public outcry, the Trump administration earlier this month allowed the Jones Act to go back into effect restraining trade between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. According to this WSJ editorial, Puerto Ricans are paying the price:

Ricky Castro is a food and beverage wholesaler and president of Puerto Rico’s Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution, known as MIDA, which boasts 200 members across the island. This month MIDA conducted an informal survey of 15 members and found there are roughly 1,400 containers of their provisions sitting in U.S. ports, waiting to be shipped to Puerto Rico.

Mr. Castro attributes the delay to the Jones Act, which mandates that U.S.-flagged, -built and -manned carriers conduct all shipping between U.S. ports. This means an oligopoly of three companies—Crowley Maritime Corp., TOTE Maritime and Trailer Bridge Inc.—conduct the vast majority of the protected trade between the mainland and the island, at inflated costs on aging ships. The ocean-going Jones Act fleet numbers a mere 99 vessels, compared to thousands available from foreign-flagged carriers.

Earlier here, here, here, etc.