The Corrosive Effect of Nationalistic Thinking

by Don Boudreaux on January 29, 2006

in Trade

My friend Brian Summers sent me this Reuters report out of Davos, Switzerland, with these opening lines:

Massive flows of capital from the emerging to the developed
world are unsustainable and risk damaging both poor and rich countries, some of
the world’s top finance officials said on Saturday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum
in Davos, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said that the
current global investment pattern was "profoundly abnormal" and in no
country’s interest.

"It is not sustainable in the long run that the
emerging world would finance the industrial world. It doesn’t correspond to the
interest of the emerging world, neither to the interest of the industrialised
world," he said.

Why are such investments “unsustainable”? If, say, West Virginians invest more in New York and Texas than
they invest in West Virginia,
is that pattern unsustainable?  If
residents of Fairfax County, VA, invest more in Loudon County, VA, than they invest in Fairfax County, is that pattern
unsustainable? If I invest more in my
neighbor’s business than I invest in my own business, is that pattern
unsustainable? Are such patterns
“abnormal” (profoundly or otherwise)?

Yet again we find evidence of the corrosive effect that
nationalistic economic thinking has on thought. People who invest in American firms or who use their dollars to create
their own firms here in the U.S. do so because, in their estimate, the investment climate here is the best one
currently available to them. And surely
part of their calculation has to do with the “sustainability” of their
investments. No one would invest in America if they
believed that all or even much of the value of their investments would soon
disappear.

To the extent that these investors do not invest in, say,
Niger or Venezuela, the reason is that they reckon that investments in such
places won’t be as profitable as investments in the U.S., probably because
governments in these poor countries are too likely to reduce the value of
investments through excessive taxation or regulation, or through corruption, or
even through outright confiscation.

In other words, debilitating corruption and the heavy hand
of government are what make countries unattractive to investors.  And there’s nothing at all unsustainable or abnormal about citizens of those countries with money to invest investing in the U.S. and other industrialized countries that offer higher expected rates of return.

It is simply silly to say that it’s “unsustainable” or “abnormal” for someone in
a poor country to invest in richer countries. Is it “unsustainable” or “abnormal” for the Boudreaux family of Burke, VA,
to invest in Microsoft? Bill Gates and
his firm are much richer than the Boudreaux family – and yet my wife, son, and
I are likely to become more prosperous by investing what little wealth we have
in rich companies such as Microsoft, Dell, and 3M than by using this wealth to
create a business of our own.

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{ 40 comments }

Aaron Krowne January 29, 2006 at 7:47 pm

> Why are such investments “unsustainable”? If, say, West Virginians invest more in New York and Texas than they invest in West Virginia, is that pattern unsustainable?

Of course not. /All U.S. states can readily spend dollars/. The currency regime in this example is at a higher level than the trading entities that are being examined.

By contrast, foreign countries cannot spend dollars unless they do it by one of the two options:

1) buying U.S. goods (inverse-trade)
2) investing in the U.S.

Of course, they are necessarily not doing #1 in the case of a trade deficit (our end).

#2 is then bad because it is (a) malinvestment and (b) in the case of public bonds, inflates the government's coffers undeservedly.

Don, I think your blog is great, but you really have a blind spot here, IMO.

P.S. – There is also a third option: (3) buying global goods that are denominated in dollars, such as oil. However, this option will inevitably disappear as the US's share of the global economy shrinks. The option also runs into the problem of there not being enough dollar-denominated global goods and services (e.g. the supply of oil is low).

averagejoe January 29, 2006 at 9:38 pm

Such comments should be stored for follow up, and played back to the imbeciles in a couple of decades. Just like LIMITS TO GROWTH and other scaremongering has proved to be laughable 30 years later.

ben January 29, 2006 at 9:42 pm

> #2 is then bad because it is (a) malinvestment

What is malinvestment?

> and (b) in the case of public bonds, inflates the government's coffers undeservedly.

What does "undeservedly" mean? Presumably foreign purchasers of US bonds buy them becaue they consider them more secure and/or offer a better return than elsewhere. In what sense does the US govt not deserve this money if it has outcompeted other investments?

K January 29, 2006 at 10:55 pm

Don. Right. I seldom see a post I agree with more. Or a comment that puzzles me more than the first by Krowne.

Why can't foreign nations (or foreign citizens) spend their dollars to buy Euro's, or their own currency, or Yen?

Granted the dollar will then fall but how does that pertain to the discussion?

Helen'skid January 30, 2006 at 10:39 am

When I trade spice for silk, I settle on the value of spice versus silk and exchange the agreed upon quantities. That is the end of it. No debt is created. I am on par with my trading partner. This is sustainable.

As far as nationalism goes, there is nothing wrong with wanting a decent standard of living. What is corrosive about that? We successfully created the America you know almost entirely by trading within our borders. We did fine without China, India and Eastern Europe. We didn't need them then and we don't need them now. To suggest that we need the lowest priced labor in the world only illuminates your greed and disregard for the humanities. Take a look at Henry Ford and his concept of life.

Henry Ford decided that he should produce an automobile that would enrich the lives of the people of the world. He would pay a high wage so that the workers in his factory would have the financial ability to purchase the product they made, and return to him the wages paid. His automobile would require rubber and steel and oil, thus economically exciting further segments of the nation. There would be philantrophy for the arts and science and mankind would reach it's full potential. Indeed, all of this came to pass and America achieved the highest standard of living in the world. This was a sustainable economy as long as the capital circulated within the economy. I grant you there was little if any redistribution by government, but business only need look at the National Highway System and the Uniform Commercial Code to see the benefit of such taxation. Do you suppose this greatness could have been achieved by producing the automobile abroad? Of course, not. Can it be sustained by producing goods abroad, now? Of course, not. What is corrosive though, is our foreign debt. It erodes our capacity to trade. Where is our mining industry? Where is our steel industry? Where is our tooling? Where is our manufacturing? What are we doing to ourselves? If investment in America means "Dollar Store" dandelions crammed with Chinese merchandise. I find that unsustainable.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 11:29 am

>Where is our mining industry?

It has largely been replaced by a software industry.

>Where is our steel industry?

It has largely been replaced by an airplane industry.

>Where is our tooling?

It has largely been replaced by our pharmaceutical industry.

>Where is our manufacturing?

It has largely been replaced by our service industry.

>What are we doing to ourselves?

Improving our productivity, becoming more highly educated and skilled, creating an information age, improving our living standards.

Would you prefer to stay in the early industrial age, with mining and steel as our primary industries?

Dan Landau January 30, 2006 at 11:41 am

The less developed countries (LDCs) have much less capital than the developed countries (DCs). Thus, with even half decent government, the return on capital would be much higher there than in the developed countries. If it isn’t, that is because very bad government makes the risk adjusted return lower in the capital poor country. That is unnatural and very harmful to the less developed country.

Secondly, a significant share of the capital flow from LDCs to the DCs is government buying dollars (or other DC currency) and then DC country bonds in order to keep down the exchange rate and artificially increase their exports. The artificially high exports partially hide the negative effects of their bad policies on their country’s growth. The LDCs would be much better off if their governments were forced to improve their policies in general. GDP per capita and the standard of living would grow much faster.

DC exports, mainly the US, are artificially reduced by the LDC government exchange rate manipulations. This accelerates the decline in labor intensive tradeables in the DCs. This is what upsets the French with their inflexible welfare state economy.

The artificially low interest rates we experience in the DCs are worldwide mis-allocation of capital. The capital is building McMansions in the US instead of factories, infra-structure, etc. in the LDCs. However, individuals in the DCs come out ahead.

In sum the flow of capital from the LDCs to the DCs is artificial, it is not the result of the free market, but of distorted markets. It hurts the LDCs, but not the DCs with decent policies.

Helen'skid January 30, 2006 at 11:51 am

Would you prefer to stay in the early industrial age, with mining and steel as our primary industries?

If somebody were shooting at you, would you prefer a tank or binary code?

JABBER January 30, 2006 at 12:02 pm

Uh, Helen…think about what you write. Who has the greatest military force in the world?

I rest my case.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 12:06 pm

>If somebody were shooting at you, would you prefer a tank or binary code?

Binary code because then they would be shooting at a robot, not at me (this is the new phase of warfare, we are creating automated soldiers that will likely deploy within 5 years, replacing much of our manned operations.)

liberty January 30, 2006 at 12:09 pm

I should explain- we will deploy some automated fighting vehicles within 5 years, it will take longer for our fully automated soldiers to deploy. We already use some unmanned aerial vehicles.

Brock January 30, 2006 at 12:26 pm

Helen:

Your analysis comes close to describing the balance of accounts, but falls short because you are confusing money with wealth. They are two separate and distinct things. Money is static; only one person can hold a dollar or yen at a time and the total supply changes only slightly from period to period. Wealth, however, is not a zero-sum game and totally independent of the money held by the individual or government.

The biggest difference between money and wealth is that wealth can be leveraged. It is easy for your family to persuade a bank to invest in your wealth-building/home buying scheme; if you fail to pay on the note, the bank can lay claim to the pledged assets. You cannot, however, persuade a bank to support your consumption by the amount of money you use for consumption (even consumer credit is advanced based on your total assets and future income potential).

The failure to make the distinction between money and wealth makes Trichet's, Krowne's, and your conclusions about sustainability incorrect. Because the money supply is static, the money flow to and from nations, states, counties, etc. MUST be equal. If I buy a product produced in China, China (directly or indirectly) must return the monetary amount exchanged, either by purchasing an American good, or by investing that amount in dollar-denominated assets. Conversly, for an emerging nation to invest in dollar-demoninated assets, that nation must have received those dollars either through trade or investment (or aid money, the topic of another post).

Now, if I can use the Chinese product I purchased to create another product while consuming less of the former than the worth of the latter, I have created wealth. A good example is using a Chinese computer to develop a piece of salable software. If the Chinese investment in a dollar-denominated asset appreciates, they are wealthier by the amount of that appreciation. Because wealth is not a zero-sum game, all individual players (including governments) can use their resources to create wealth without harming someone else. All players can also leverage the wealth they have created to provide funds for creating more wealth!

This is getting further and further from Don's original post, but imagine your "America sans Henry Ford" scenario was indeed the case. If the US produced no automobiles, you postulate that there would be no highways. I counter that there would not only be highways, but that they would have been built without taxing US citizens. Instead, Mitsubishi or Daewoo would have invested in US highways, both providing a market for and yen and won to purchase their automobiles. In this case, Japan and Korea would be wealthier by the user-fees generated by their highways plus the value-added on each automobile purchased, and the US could leverage the capabilities provided by the highways (even though foreign-owned) and the automobiles purchased abroad to create our own wealth.

By making a distinction between money and wealth, you can see that not only is Trichet's conclusion wrong, but that the situation he describes is extremely beneficial to both emerging and industrialized economies. Don's point, contrary to the conclusion you drew, is that there is no such thing as foreign debt. Once an individual or entity invests in dollar-denominated assets they, by default, become a domestic partner. Their wealth is not only linked to, but dependent upon, the growth of wealth in the US.

Brock January 30, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Uh…replace the Dons above with Dans.

Brock January 30, 2006 at 12:32 pm

Nope. Keep the Dons.

Helen'skid January 30, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Guns or Butter? Where did I here that before?

So, there is a suggestion on the table that the U.S. Government is about to create the Robotic Fighting Corp. These robots will, presumably, be built off-shore. Since, the country no longer has the steel, tooling or manufacturing capacity to produce them here.

The government is already in debt, how will they be able to purchase a whole new army? Perhaps they can issue bonds. That will attract foreign capital. What the heck, in for a penny in for a pound. But, if those robots are anything like that last vacuum cleaner I bought at Wal-Mart, rots of ruck.

Yes, Jabber, you are right. The U.S. possesses a formidable army. You must admit though, we are enabeling China, with its overwhelming population and tyrannical leadership, to strengthen. Our biggest threat comes from the economic inequality that exists between the Less Developed Countries and the Developed Countries. Thanks to the communications revolution, people in foreign lands can see the disparity first hand. As both Dons pointed out, foreign governments need to encourage capital investment with a favorable investment climate. That is where security lies, not in some robot soldier.

Scott January 30, 2006 at 1:43 pm

Helen'skid, is it economic inequality that is the biggest threat or allowing China to strengthen? If we don't trade with them, they can't strengthen but doesn't that exacerbate economic inequality? If we trade with them we allow them to strengthen but reduce economic inequality.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 1:47 pm

>So, there is a suggestion on the table that the U.S. Government is about to create the Robotic Fighting Corp. These robots will, presumably, be built off-shore. Since, the country no longer has the steel, tooling or manufacturing capacity to produce them here.

Actually my husband is working as a software developer on the cutting edge intelligence required to make them work; there is no indication that any part of them (except perhaps scrap material) will be made offshore.

>The government is already in debt, how will they be able to purchase a whole new army?

Once again, your analysis regarding trade is weak. If you mean to suggest that having it made here would be "cheaper", there is no reason to believe that, if you mean that we simply can't afford it in real terms, then I suggest cutting medicaid.

> if those robots are anything like that last vacuum cleaner I bought at Wal-Mart, rots of ruck.

Next time buy it at Sears.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 1:52 pm

>rots of ruck.

By the way, is that supposed to be some kind of slur against the Chinese? Please try to be a little more respectful.

Helen'skid January 30, 2006 at 2:01 pm

Brock

Fine, my domestic partner lives in a foreign country. He wants to transfer his domestic wealth into foreign wealth. The country that holds his wealth has no foreign currency. What should he do?

faultolerant January 30, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Liberty: A little more respectful of whom? And who died and made you God?

While I don't Helen'skid has a solid grasp of economic reality, I also don't see that her comment was an insult. Let's not get so Policitally Correct that we run in circles trying not to offend everyone.

If that puts a twist in your knickers, "try to be a little more respectful" in how you interpret what others say.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Pardon me, I just thought it sounded a bit rude. It doesn't require running in circles to not made a slanty eyed face and mock the way people speak as far as I can tell, but don't let me offend you by pointing that out.

faultolerant January 30, 2006 at 5:39 pm

Liberty: Unless you've got a way to see what Helen'skid was doing, and intended to do when creating said posting, you're simply projecting your own thoughts on someone else.

Didja ever think that Helen was imitating Scooby Doo? Ruh Roh….I'm sure that never crossed your mind cuz you were so darn busy taking offence.

I'd also love to know how YOU know that Helen was making "a slanty eyed face" when writing those words? Ruh Roh….I'm pretty sure you can't be. Unless you work for the NSA…Really Ruh Roh.

If you want to infer another's intention, be sure you show up armed with more than your own biases. Helen *may* have been making fun of someone. Then again, not. I'll given Helen the benefit of the doubt on that one, while I disagree with her (sorry, Helen, if you're not a "her") on things economic. I'll also defend her right to BE wrong (at least by MY definition…which also might be wrong).

You're pardoned…..for making the same kind of nasty comment about Helen that you presume to take umbrage with. This is just yet another politically correct spitfest. I just wish all y'all thin-skinned folks would just get a grip. Ruh Roh…it's not the end of the world, now is it?

WMCW January 30, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Regarding the subjetc on nationalism and free trade:
I guess that all of us who support free trade are willing to improve free flows of goods, capital, as well as labour.
As a "allien non resident" I cannot generate wealth in the USA. Would you help me to fight agaisnt that anti-libertarian rules and intitutions such as the american Green Card?

liberty January 30, 2006 at 6:04 pm

>As a "allien non resident" I cannot generate wealth in the USA. Would you help me to fight agaisnt that anti-libertarian rules and intitutions such as the american Green Card?

Being for free trade does not mean agreeing that it trumps everything else. I might be in favor of allowing you to work but the system is presumably in place to make it harder to become a citizen or gain long term residence in order that immigration does not spiral out of control. Or some such precaution.

WMCW January 30, 2006 at 6:43 pm

liberty:
On behalf of your nickname.
I think it is good for everybody that benefits of free trade reaches good, capital and labour markets.
Not only green cards but passports are not goods for wellbeing.
I would like to be unlucky because of my lack of beauty but not because of my place of residence or nationality.

Inmigration to the USA, Europe or Africa generates benefits in the long run.

Why have they been called United States in stead of simply States. Pioneers were smarter and libertarian dreamers in the past. I do not know if most of the people understand benefits of economic freedom in the present in Northern America. It is not only choosing between McDonald or Burger King.

liberty January 30, 2006 at 7:01 pm

I couldn't agree more, WMCW. The only thing I was pointing out is that there are other concerns too – security, etc. Non-economic concerns have a place, and though we should not sacrafice freedom for security, we also have reason to not have a completely open border, for example.

Hopefully they can have little effect on the market and none on basic freedoms of those who wish to cme here, yet just make it a bit cumbersome or a wait before you can work, and be worth it so that we aren't killed by terrorists.

I am not in favor of economic constraints, but I am in favor of some security, with passports, birth certificates, borders. If the whole world were like America, we would not need them; but some countries are like Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, etc.

Brock January 30, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Helen:

Intellectual property can be shipped or tranmitted, intelligence goes with the bearer, chattle may be shipped or sold, real property may be sold or leveraged. The proceeds of sale or leverage can be used to purchase the foreign currency on the open market, deposited domestically and transferred to a foreign bank, or deposited domestically in a demand deposit account and withdrawn as needed in the foreign country.

Anything I missed?

Brock January 30, 2006 at 7:23 pm

WMCW:

You don't need to be a resident to generate wealth in the United States. I have many friends who are generating massive amounts of wealth as non-resident aliens. Open a savings account, open a brokerage account, purchase some real estate, get an advanced degree, buy and sell on Ebay, or panhandle on an exit of the 405! All of these are great techniques that anyone can use to generate wealth in the US, and don't even require your presence (except panhandling), let alone a resident status. In fact, they could all be easily accomplished while orbiting in the ISS (with the exception, again, of panhandling)!

WMCW January 30, 2006 at 8:05 pm

Brock:
It does not matter if there is any technique to generate wealth in the USA despite being a non resident. The question is the following: free-trade comprehends only goods or it implies free flows of capital and labour without constraints?
It is a simple question. I`d like to know for instance if you agree with me that green card, passports, etc are not good for social wellfare from an economic point of view.
This question is not referred to relative personal conditions. It doen`t mind if non residents are richer, poorer, better or worse qualified or any contingent feature. it does not mind if it is possible to get a permission. But, do you think permissions or this knid of institutions are good?

JABBER January 30, 2006 at 9:41 pm

WMCW, yes, true free-market libertarians would seek to allow the free-flow of ALL things, including labor. The not so slight problem we face, however, is that immigrants would pour into the US if we were to do this, creating short-run chaos as the economy tried to absorb them all and creating a serious drain on social services, to say nothing of security concerns. It's quite remarkable when you think of it: Despite all the cheap anti-Americanism out there, a whole lotte people would like to live here! Imagine that!

Oh, and Liberty? I enjoying reading what you have to say. Don't let Helen's-kid and faulttolerant scare you off. They show up in these threads fairly often spreading all sorts of gobbledy-gook. Helen, for one, takes great pride in being economically ignorant (s/he told me as much in an earlier thread).

steevo January 30, 2006 at 10:38 pm

the conversation seems to be treating national borders as just plain 'ol lines dividing geographies. IMHO, more importantly, are that these lines separate ideologies as well. This is important because as we trade up from steel/tooling/manufacturing/etc to higher-order trades like software/etc, we are assuming (hoping) that these partners will always act rationally (from an economics standpoint) by realizing it's in their best interest to supply us w/ these industrial grade products.
However, it's a wiggily world, and who knows – maybe a group of countries that have completely different ideologies about how the world should operate and who find themselves in majority control of an important world resource (steel/oil/whatever) suddenly decide to stop the flow of this resource to country X.
Country X now has to either go to war or face dire consequences. what say you?

JABBER January 30, 2006 at 11:18 pm

Steevo, answer your own question by answering this one: Can you name any two countries that have had extended trade relationships with one another that have ever made war against one another?

Seems kinda self-defeating, doesn't it? All that wealth to be created, money to be made, all flushed down the drain via war?

Oh, and name any one country that has a monopoly, a TRUE monopoly, on the "critical" goods you mentioned…

Are you sure you aren't Helen's-kid under a different moniker?

Brock January 31, 2006 at 1:14 am

WMCW:

Wonder no more. Regardless of security concerns, short-run labor market corrections, housing, education, health care, and any other concerns, if were made King of America tomorrow, the borders would be wide open minutes after! Jabber has it exactly right, just waaaay more pragmatic than me.

liberty January 31, 2006 at 2:12 pm

>Oh, and Liberty? I enjoying reading what you have to say. Don't let Helen's-kid and faulttolerant scare you off. They show up in these threads fairly often spreading all sorts of gobbledy-gook. Helen, for one, takes great pride in being economically ignorant (s/he told me as much in an earlier thread).

Thank you JABBER. I wasn't going to be scared away, I like it here too much and have dealt with worse at other site, but I very much appreciate you telling me.

steevo January 31, 2006 at 2:33 pm

JABBER :
to your extended trade relationship example : "Today, the US remains the top buyer of Venezuelan crude. Venezuela is still the third-largest foreign supplier of oil to the US, and owns CITGO, one of the largest refinery complexes and gas distribution networks in the US. But this could change. Chávez warned recently that the daily 1.5 million-barrel supply to US ports could be halted if US "aggressions" against his government continue. "Ships filled with Venezuelan oil, instead of going to the United States, could go somewhere else," he threatened at a World Youth Day event on Aug. 14 in Caracas. "The US market is not indispensable" for Venezuela, he said."

Now, there is plenty of money to be made – but in order to further his agenda, Chavez is "giving away" oil to countries like Cuba in a supposed humanitarian gesture. Is it really unimaginable for the posturing to escalate and some type of limited war breaking out to perhaps replace the current government? self-defeating? yes. impossible? no. btw, do you really believe that those who have bought into this jihad care about whether their actions are self-defeating in light of the fact that dying as a martyr for a "noble" cause is revered??

also, just because a country (or group of countries that share a common ideology) doesn't have a true monopoly on a critical resource today says nothing about what could happen in 10 years time. see problem of induction (Hume). it seems you're too willing to look at the recent past and current conditions and deduce that most of what we know about behavior and responses to incentives will remain constant – sorta arrogant.

and no, i'm not Helen'skid. I'm really just asking honest questions that I myself struggle with. You could be totally correct, just trying to make sense of it.

JABBER January 31, 2006 at 3:54 pm

Steevo, of course there are loons out there. Human nature being what it is, occassionally the Chavezes will seize power. Sadly, that will cause wars to break out. But let me rephrase my original question: Name any two mature DEMOCRACIES that have declared war on each other since WWII. As much as I hate the French, I can't imagine ever shooting at them short of them all converting to a virulent form of Islam.

Let's take your thought experiment a little further. Suppose Chavez cuts us off from Venezuela's oil. What do we do? We wouldn't be happy about it, but, due to the (presumably) higher price of gas, we'd consume less of it (this was abundantly clear post-Katrina…people burned less gas — hey, the Law of Demand works! Imagine that!) and/or we'd replace the lost supply from someplace else. We might tap ANWR, or we might go whole hog into oil shale, or we might build Nuke plants and drive nothing but electric cars. In the short run, pain. In the long run, innovation.

Steel is effectively the same thing. The US does, in fact, have some steel making capacity, mostly specialty steels where high US labor rates don't hurt so much. Those companies could ramp up pretty quickly. Recollect your history of Pearl Harbor. When Admiral Yamamoto (sp?) realized that the Japanese strike force didn't sink our Carriers, he said "We have awoken a sleeping giant." Within four years, we had more war materiale than anyone had ever seen.

Nope…I'm not the least bit concerned.

By the way, with regard to China: How much would China's economy shrink if it declared war on the US? Those old Commies like making money too much to do that. Also, keep your eyes peeled for "riots in China." They're happening all the time, but the Western press (for the most part) doesn't pick up on it. Communist China will implode before it explodes. Same thing with bozos like Chavez. But even if they do explode (and, no doubt, some of them will, most likely Iran), I have few worries that we can handle it.

steevo January 31, 2006 at 4:51 pm

JABBER,
the reason I brought up Chavez is because you can't limit the scope of the argument to mature democracies. The production of industrial-grade resources _are_ increasingly taking place in countries that a) aren't democracies and b) don't especially like the U.S.
> In the short run, pain.
The chances of encountering this pain goes up as this outsourcing of our ability to produce key industrial-grade products goes down. That's all. That pain, btw, increases the more our society leans on these resources (and takes them for granted). We become increasingly dependent as a nation on lower level products as we move to producing higher level products.

China doesn't have to declare war, they could perhaps just start buying oil from Iran in Euros.

Don Quijote January 31, 2006 at 10:47 pm

As much as I hate the French, I can't imagine ever shooting at them short of them all converting to a virulent form of Islam.

And why do you hate the French? What have they done to you?

faultolerant February 1, 2006 at 4:51 pm

JABBER: "Don't let Helen's-kid and faulttolerant scare you off. They show up in these threads fairly often spreading all sorts of gobbledy-gook"

Look, the last thing I want to do is "scare" anyone off. If Helen wants to make assertions that are unsupportable, that's her right. Ms. Liberty, on the other hand, isn't anyone's Mommy (at least in here) and should behave accordingly. That nasty little display of political correctness belies an inherently brittle individual. Fine, she has that right.

Interestingly enough, I don't have much disagreement with Liberty, or for that matter, with you, on things economic. Other than an astonishingly arrogant attitude of feigned superiority you both display, we're in agreement about freedom and free markets.

As far as "gobbledy-gook"…oh grow up. People who live in glass houses.

CarlosX December 16, 2006 at 9:00 pm

China & India are emerging as the two dominant world powers. Each with over a billion people and a powerful new middle class.

The United States is busy tearing down its few remaining factories and moving them to China.

It reminds me of a freezing old man that is tearing down the walls of his house and throwing the wood into the fireplace.

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