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Color Me Frustrated

Here’s a letter to American Thinker; some worries are even more specious than others:

Raymond Richman and Howard Richman find it ominous that America’s merchandise trade deficit with China is high (“Obama Picks a Progressive Lawyer for Top Economist,” Feb. 3).  But, quoting these authors, “What nonsense!”

The tangibility of economic output is as irrelevant as is that output’s color, odor, and the number of syllables in its name.  A dollar’s worth of textiles and other merchandise has exactly the same value as does a dollar’s worth of web design and other services.  And we Americans have a huge comparative advantage in supplying services.

Fretting over the fact that we import more merchandise each year than we export is pointless.  Suppose government measured the value of bananas, pencils, and other yellow imports and exports and found that we consistently import more yellow things than we export.  Would Messrs. Richman and Richman find ominous America’s yellow-thing trade deficit?  If not, they should chill over America’s merchandise trade deficit.

Donald J. Boudreaux