Saturday, July 30, 2016

Those damn Chinese and Indians! Vietnamese and Bangladeshis too?

Evan Osnos--remember him?--writes about tagging along with Zhang Yuanan, who had been sent to the GOP convention by Caixin Media, a Chinese news organization, in order to understand Trump and his blame-China rhetoric.  Osnos writes:
Zhang stopped at a table of T-shirts that spelled out “TRUMP” in rhinestones. The seller was wearing an American-flag cowboy hat and an American-flag shirt with the sleeves torn off. Zhang asked, “Do you know where they are made?” The seller said the rhinestones came from Korea, but he wasn’t sure about the shirts. “O.K., thank you,” she said, and studied the tags. Made in Haiti.
Of course, very few trinkets carry the Made in America tags.
She mused, “Why do you think Americans want those low-end manufacturing jobs to come back here?” In China people don’t exactly love their jobs making peppermint tins. “China wants to upgrade its manufacturing chain,” she said. ...
“It’s true—a lot of manufacturing jobs are now in China.” What mystified her was Trump’s promise to bring the jobs back. “If it’s not China, it’s still not going to be the U.S. It’s going to be in Vietnam and other countries.”
As I have blogged often, like here, if only the Trump and Bernie people would have understood that!

If the dynamics of economic geography are so basic, then why are the millions of Trump and Bernie people angry at China and India for stealing "our" jobs?

Greg Mankiw tackles that in his column at the NY Times.
According to a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted last month, only 35 percent of registered voters thought the United States gained from globalization, while 55 percent thought it lost.
Even as we enjoy the low, low price of everything, on top of the free email, Faccebook, and everything else, only a third think the US gained from the integration with the global economy?  What gives?
As Mr. Mansfield and Ms. Mutz put it, “trade preferences are driven less by economic considerations and more by an individual’s psychological worldview.”
It is not about the evidence--like a tshirt for $4.99--but the "feelings" that drive this anger.  But, Trump's base is mostly angry white men, right?  How come the lower middle class blacks and Latino voters aren't that angry then?  And how do we understand the Democratic Party's vote-base?  Reihan Salam notes:
Native-born black men, in contrast, might compare their circumstances favorably with those of their own fathers, who often faced intense racial discrimination. Similarly, Latino immigrants of modest means generally believe themselves to be better off than they would have been in their native countries. That’s no small thing. In this sense, at least, upwardly mobile working-class blacks and Latinos have more in common with upwardly mobile college-educated whites than they do with working-class whites. And in this sense, at least, the fact that the Democratic Party is now an alliance of college-educated whites and working-class minority voters makes a certain kind of sense.
So, any ray of sunshine in all these?  Back to Mankiw:
The more years of schooling people have, the more likely they are to reject anti-globalization attitudes.
Oh, ok.  But, then he also adds this:
In the long run, therefore, there is reason for optimism. As society slowly becomes more educated from generation to generation, the general public’s attitudes toward globalization should move toward the experts’.
The short run in which we find ourselves now, however, is another story.
Oh yeah. Of course!  It is consistent with the wonderful line in economic thinking: In the long run, we are all dead! ;)

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

Absolutely true what Zhang observed - why on earth do Americans want low end manufacturing jobs to come back. Even if it came back, none of them would do it. Will any American worker assemble 500 iPhones day in and day out, at the levels of productivity Apple demands ? Heck - the main destination of illegal immigrants from Mexico is farm labour; jobs that are waiting for Americans to do. The trouble is they don't want to do those jobs.

However, I don't believe anti globalisation views will go away with time and education. There will always be winners and losers in globalisation and the losers will protest and want to erect barriers and get some advantage. The concept that there can be a social net for them is impractical. By any objective standard the uneducated white voter who is yelling along with Trump is actually better off than his own parents - better health, better quality of life and certainly many times better off than the Chinese or Vietnamese doing the job that was taken away from him. But there is no chance that he will accept that.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ... but with one amendment to your comments:
We have always known that some will lose from this globalization. The problem has been that the Thatcher/Reagan revolution did not want to compensate those who were losing a lot. The awful pro-market ideologues did not want to redo the social contract. Now, we are all paying a huge price for that ideology, with Brexit and now the Trump candidacy.

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