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Another Open Letter to Peter Navarro

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July 3, 2020

Peter Navarro
White House
Washington, DC

Mr. Navarro:

Today on MSNBC you asserted [2] (without evidence) that Beijing “spawned” the novel coronavirus in a laboratory in order to intentionally infect Americans. Hmmm….

You [3] famously believe [4] that China grew rich at the expense of other countries, especially the United States, by deviously expanding its exports and simultaneously restricting its imports. Putting aside here the head-scratcher of how a country grows rich by continuing to ship lots of goods and services to foreigners while resisting the receipt of goods and services in exchange from foreigners, I’ve this question: Given your economic theory, why would the Chinese government intentionally seek to kill its country’s customers?

If the secret sauce of China’s economic success is its “export-led growth,” that country needs people abroad to buy its exports. Killing Americans would thus – again, on your own theory – do serious damage to the Chinese economy.

Have leaders in Beijing lost interest in increasing their country’s wealth? Or have they suddenly gone stupid? What, do tell, is your explanation for why the Chinese – who are so utterly dependent upon American consumers – would aim to rid themselves of this lucrative customer base? Are they mad? Masochistic? What?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

…..

The irony is that Navarro’s tale told today would be logical only if his long-held notion of the source of Chinese economic success were spectacularly wrong.

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