≡ Menu

Some Links

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino talks with Ed Gresser about the realities of the making of trade policy.

GMU Econ alum Benjamin Powell reports that Trump’s ignorant bleatings about trade can, alas, be good politics. A slice:

Supporters of Trump’s trade policies may be willing to bear the burden of higher prices and lower incomes if U.S. manufacturing jobs are protected. However, his trade policies apparently did not deliver on that either. Another new NBER study, by economists David Autor, Anne Beck, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson, found that Trump’s tariffs did not increase employment in the regions of the newly protected industries. They also found that China’s retaliatory tariffs decreased agricultural employment in the United States.

Their study also pointed to why Trump continues to try to sway midwestern voters with his anti-trade rhetoric. Voters in districts with firms targeted for protection by his tariffs became “less likely to identify as Democrats, more likely to vote to reelect Donald Trump in 2020, and more likely to elect Republicans to Congress” despite the lack of economic benefits in the targeted industries and districts.

The political appeal of Trump’s rhetoric can be partially explained by voters’ difficulty in disentangling the effects of many individual economic policies. The bulk of President Trump’s domestic economic policies on taxation, regulation, drilling, and a host of other important issues were pro-growth and led to an economy that raised living standards for the middle class before the pandemic despite the drag caused by the trade war. Without a solid understanding of economics, voters hearing Trump’s rhetoric could easily confuse correlation and causation.

On April Fools’ Day, Alex Tabarrok ingeniously caricatures the vacuousness wrongheadedness of so much economic commentary that is regularly dispensed and widely believed to be wise and informed.

Marc Joffe has an excellent – and honest – idea for replacing Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key bridge.

Mark Pulliam reminds us of “the eternal folly of central planning.”

Jason Sorens isn’t buying the line that the U.S. government’s incontinent spending and officious intermeddling makes the U.S. economy more dynamic.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board is unimpressed with the economic ignorance on display in Albany. Two slices:

You have to marvel at the enlightened economic thinking of New York politicians. Gov. Kathy Hochul and her Legislature are hashing out a deal as part of the state budget that would impose universal rent control while creating tax breaks for housing developers. Increase disincentives for investment, and then layer on subsidies. Genius.


Extending rent control to market-rate apartments will compound the 2019 law’s damage and discourage new housing. Are Democrats in Albany trying to precipitate a local banking crisis by spurring massive write-downs on apartment buildings? Their plan could make New York housing uninvestable.

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby explains that “the border needs fixing, but not because migrants are dangerous.” Two slices:

Researchers have confirmed again and again that immigrants to the United States — authorized and unauthorized alike — are significantly less likely than native-born citizens to commit serious crimes or be in prison. For example, a peer-reviewed 2020 study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that “undocumented immigrants have substantially lower crime rates than native-born citizens and legal immigrants across a range of felony offenses.” Last month, Cato Institute scholar Alex Nowrasteh, who has been studying the connection between immigration and crime for years, released a new paper based on data from Texas, the only state that records the immigration status of people arrested and convicted of various crimes. His calculations established that the homicide conviction rate in Texas is 2.4 per 100,000 among undocumented immigrants — lower than the rate of 2.8 per 100,000 for native‐born citizens.


It is likewise unconscionable to pretend that the violent crimes committed by an atypical sliver of those immigrants prove that immigrants are making the country less safe. Immigrants tend to be unusually law-abiding. True, there are appalling outliers. But public policy should be based on the rule, not the exceptions. Agitators like Trump and other nativists on the right harp on the exceptions because it advances their long-standing anti-immigrant agenda. Yet one could just as readily point to spectacular acts of goodness performed by unlawful migrants as a reason to throw the gates open.

On the day of the Boston Marathon terror attack, to mention just one notable local example, Carlos Arredondo instinctively ran toward the explosion, laboring without letup to rescue victims from the debris. In a famous photo, he can be seen helping to rush Jeff Bauman to an ambulance. To prevent Bauman, whose legs were shredded, from bleeding to death, Arredondo had the presence of mind to grip a protruding femoral artery and use his fingers to pinch it shut. Bauman might well have died had Arredondo not reached him in time. Arredondo was a Costa Rican native who entered the United States illegally when he was 19 years old.

For those of you who might be in or near Boston on Thursday, here’s a tweet from Jay Bhattacharya:

I’m giving a speech at @MIT this Thursday, April 4th on free speech. I will defend the idea that free speech is essential to scientific inquiry & advance and to keeping the public healthy. Admission is free.