More evidence: “Free trade” really means “free capital flow” — and causes constant bubbles

The heart of the neoliberal agenda — the world of forced globalization that benefits only the rich — is the push for so-called “free trade.”

I’ve written before that so-called “free trade” really means “free capital flow” — the right of owners of capital (Big Money men and women) to move that Big Money into and out of countries at will, without restriction.

For example, here (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):

In its simplest terms, “free trade” means one thing only — the ability of people with capital to move that capital freely, anywhere in the world, seeking the highest profit. It’s been said of Bush II, for example, that “when Bush talks of ‘freedom’, he doesn’t mean human freedom, he means freedom to move money.” (Sorry, can’t find a link.)

At its heart, free trade doesn’t mean the ability to trade freely per se; that’s just a byproduct. It means the ability to invest freely without governmental constraint.

Free trade is why factories in China have American investors and partners — because you can’t bring down manufacturing wages in Michigan and Alabama if you can’t set up slave factories somewhere else and get your government to make that capital move cost-free, or even tax-incentivized, out of your supposed home country and into a place ripe for predation.

Can you see why both right-wing kings (Koch Bros, Walmart-heir dukes and earls, Reagan I, Bush I and II) and left-wing honchos (Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Barack Obama) make “free trade” the cornerstone of each of their economic policies? It’s the song of the rich, and they all sing it.

And from the same piece:

A direct consequence of a world in which capital flow is completely unrestricted is constant economic crisis. … There’s an opportunity in Spain, let’s say, to take advantage of cheap labor and prices. Money flows in, builds huge capacity, then flows out as soon as it finds better opportunity elsewhere.

What’s left behind? The Spanish in a crashed economy, and in a world in which the holders of their debt (German bankers et al) are using the EU (remember, capture of government) to make sure that creditors are made whole at the expense of whole populations.

Or, to put it more succinctly — Your “economic crisis” is just their “cost of doing business.” Nice to be them.

Now comes two more pieces of evidence that the above is true, all from the past month. One is by Joseph Stiglitz; the other by Paul Krugman. Not nobodies.

Stiglitz on unrestricted capital flow and bubbles

Noted economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently in the New York Times in support of Janet Yellen as the next Fed chair, and against Larry Summers. In fact, Stiglitz is strongly opposed to Summers for this post.

In amongst the anti-Summers reasoning, I noted this:

Joseph Stiglitz with John Aravosis

Joseph Stiglitz with John Aravosis

At Treasury in the 1990s, Mr. Summers encouraged countries to quickly liberalize their capital markets, to allow capital to flow in and out without restrictions — indeed insisted that they do so — against the advice of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (which I led from 1995 to 1997), and this more than anything else led to the Asian financial crisis. Few policies or actions have greater culpability for that Asian crisis and the global financial crisis of 2008 than the deregulatory policies that Mr. Summers advocated.

Stiglitz couldn’t be more clear. Unrestricted capital flow — the free movement of capital into and out of countries at the sole whim of the owners of capital — causes bubbles and crisis.

Note, though, who wins in that scenario, and who loses. Capital flows in, chasing opportunity. Capital flows out when that opportunity disappears or is milked dry. Who wins? Owners of capital. Who loses? Everyone living in, or touched by, the economic devastation left behind.

Stiglitz uses the example of Asia in the 1990s. I used the example of Spain in the 2000s. Same thing.

Krugman on unrestricted capital flow and bubbles

From a recent column by Paul Krugman, this is even more direct:

This Age of Bubbles

[I]it’s hard to deny that India, Brazil, and a number of other countries are now experiencing similar problems [to each other]. And those shared problems define the economic crisis du jour.

Cabaret money

Money makes the world go around

What’s going on? It’s a variant on the same old story: investors loved these economies not wisely but too well, and have now turned on the objects of their former affection. A couple years back, Western investors — discouraged by low returns both in the United States and in the noncrisis nations of Europe — began pouring large sums into emerging markets. Now they’ve reversed course. As a result, India’s rupee and Brazil’s real are plunging, along with Indonesia’s rupiah, the South African rand, the Turkish lira, and more. …

It’s true that investor loss of confidence [i.e., rapid capital outflows] and the resulting currency plunges caused severe economic crises in much of Asia back in 1997-98. … And this latest financial turmoil raises a broader question: Why have we been having so many bubbles?

For it’s now clear that the flood of money into emerging markets — which briefly drove Brazil’s currency up by almost 40 percent, a rise that has now been completely reversed — was yet another in the long list of financial bubbles over the past generation. …

The thing is, it wasn’t always thus. The ’50s, the ’60s, even the troubled ’70s, weren’t nearly as bubble-prone.

He wonders what changed, and offers this answer:

[T]he other obvious culprit is financial deregulation — not just in the United States but around the world, and including the removal of most controls on the international movement of capital. …

Cross-border flows of hot money were at the heart of the Asian crisis of 1997-98 and the crisis now erupting in emerging markets — and were central to the ongoing crisis in Europe, too.

“Cross-border flows of hot money” is a nice phrase. It applies to Mexican cartel money (invested for them by the money center banks) as well as Spanish housing bubble loot, factories-to-China investments, and the mass purchase and sale of soaring and sinking currencies.

Are we in a banking crisis or a capital-flow crisis?

Economists sometimes talk about this as a “banking deregulation” crisis, but that’s just because a lot of the “hot money” is held by banks for themselves and investors. It’s actually a global flow-of-funds crisis caused by all Big Money actors — investors, CEO masters of great corporate wealth, hedge funds, banks, billionaire soloists like Jeff Bezos and the god who owns Tesla; the lot of them.

Masters of money (capital) want to move their money wherever they want to in order to win more money, then leave whenever they feel like it. Just like Walmart wrecks a small town, both by coming in and ruining jobs, and then by leaving a ruined town behind — Big Money wrecks the world in just the same way.

The world we live in is organized so that only owners of capital can win, and they’re doing it by selling “free trade” to the rubes (see, the word “free” is right inside), and by capturing governments around the world and bending them to their will.

Those they can bribe, they bribe. Those they can overthrow and then bribe, they overthrow. Those whose laws they can amend so that only capital-backed candidates can win, they purchase those amended laws and back those candidates.

And those they cannot fully defeat, they get to sign sovereignty-killing “free capital” agreements like NAFTA and the coming TPP (“Trans-Pacific Partnership,” which Obama strongly supports).

TPP is the next big move to free owners of capital from any rules whatever

I’ve written much about TPP. It’s a nightmare. And it’s coming to a capital-bought Senate near you. Watch for it soon, and its necessary opening act, Fast Track.

Stopping Fast Track is the key to stopping TPP. Stay tuned.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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73 Responses to “More evidence: “Free trade” really means “free capital flow” — and causes constant bubbles”

  1. Jim says:

    Avoids the point.
    anti-biotics = science = scientific method of which logic and reason are indispensible

  2. karmanot says:

    My sensitivity to these issues—hospitals, custodial care, nursing care and so on have come from over twenty years of HIV/Aids work, including hospice. It was always a challenge caring for and helping those who had no advocates or families. The GLTBQ community rose to the occasion, particularly our L. sisters to provide a paradigm model of extended care. As medical facilities became more profit driven and corporate the problems have exponentially risen.

  3. karmanot says:

    Somehow, I want to say Democracy has become the chamber pot of capitalism.

  4. karmanot says:

    Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm. Does that work?

  5. karmanot says:

    “it is a logical fallacy.” Bingo! So much for Mr. God.

  6. Jim says:


  7. wmforr says:

    Don’t worry. I’m sure they don’t know that.

  8. Rob Dowdy says:

    Now do you begin to understand?

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    I didn’t comment on your personal story.

    I did comment on your politics, which are wrong.

    I’ll ignore your personal comments because arguing with you about your hatred of the left is a waste of time. I will continue to point out what I think are political errors by you or other people. One of the goals of socialists is to lead and educate and on blogs we do that by commenting.

  10. Rob Dowdy says:

    You have crossed a line here and gone beyond rhetoric into sheer meanness.

    If you shared a painful personal story and your thoughts on how it made you feel with someone else I would not inject myself into the conversation to tell you that you were wrong.

    It would be — it is — indecent and just … wrong. You have become so lost in your narcissistic delusions of saving humanity that you can no longer see the humans standing in front of you.

    You preach and preach and make your idiotic pronouncements and tout your sweeping “solutions,” all of which have about as much practical utility in the real world we all have to somehow function in as does moving the Earth further from the sun to reduce global warming. Actually, that’s not true. We may one day acquire the engineering skills necessary to move the Earth in its orbit, but communism will never take root in the United States. And why should it? It is a system that has never once produced a viable state.

    But back to the point at hand, I was merely talking to karmanot casually about what it was like seeing my grandma and all those other people go through a horrible thing, Bill. That’s all. Not every conversation has to be about THE BIG STUFF. Sometimes the best conversations are about the little stuff. The human stuff, not the humanity stuff.

    And yet, for someone who doesn’t like to be told what he should and should not talk about, you have very little compunction about doing it to other people. And don’t claim you weren’t doing that. It’s self-evident.

    Based on all this there is only one sane conclusion: Our ideological divide is simply too wide.

    I have no interest in what you have to say and you think I’m wrong about everything. There is no middle ground between us, nor do I wish to find any. I find you detestable, tedious, and unworthy of time I could spend speaking to those with a heart and mind capable of hearing me.

    You are a monomaniacal, small, petty, spiteful, bitter, nasty man. You proved that to me and everyone else in spades just now, although I doubt you have the sense to see it.

    This will be the last time I address you or interact with you in any way. I give you my word on that. I will not reply to you, I will not vote on your comments. I am done with you. This is not contingent on any behavior of yours: you may of course continue to down vote me, reply to me, whatever.

    I would ask that you do me the same courtesy, for the sake of not cluttering these comments with nonsense, but I know it’s simply not in you to oblige.

    Take care, Bill. I am sorry you have to be this way and hope you get help one day.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    Some people regularly downvote the left perspective.

  12. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s not about me it’s about Obama’s war on elderly working class people. Failing to mention that while discussing the right wing is a big omission. Obama is the leader of the right wing in this country.

  13. Rob Dowdy says:

    A bit tangential, but sort of relevant to the story, if anyone here reads Business Insider, be aware of what you’re dealing with. Their CTO is truly disgusting.

  14. Rob Dowdy says:

    There was this one lady there … she’d had a botched open heart surgery and her daughter — she was such trash — just went around all day long, every day telling anyone who would listen everyone she was going to sue. Her mother was only in her late 40s but had had several open heart surgeries. They took the drainage tubes out too soon after the last one (another hospital than the one we were at) and the woman developed a terrible infection under her sternum, which then had to be removed and discarded.

    So even if she ever got out of there, she has no sternum. So no riding in cars, any hard blow or fall can be deadly. But everyone knew she wasn’t getting out. She’d had to go back on the vent and they didn’t think she’d ever come off.

    So the day before Thanksgiving, trashy daughter takes a very obnoxiously loud phone call in the waiting room: “That MF’er is shacked up with WHO? While MY mama’s in the hospital FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE? I’ll KIIL THAT MF’er. You let him know I’m on my way!”

    And she left. My grandma had a really rough time in recovery and had to stay in ICU and later in the a room for much longer than normal, but even a week later trashy daughter had never been back to the hospital to check on her mother. It broke my mom’s heart that she was just left in there to die all by herself.

    Even having family around isn’t always a blessing.

  15. Rob Dowdy says:

    That wasn’t what I set out to do. I was having a side chat with karmanot about a deeply personal and traumatic experience my family went through last year.

    His words made me think about it and appreciate it in a new way and I wanted him to know that, that’s all.

    But thank you, BIll, for making it all about you. Bravo.

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    It didn’t point out the main origin of attacks on the elderly – Obama and his
    Democrat and Republican allies.

    None of these problems are soluble without understanding their origins. The problem is not “This notion the right-wingers always toss out about “charity” replacing welfare and “family” taking care of their own is utter, utter bullshit.” The problem is rightists in the Republican Party and right centrists in the Democrat party. Dowdy offers no analysis of the central problem.

  17. Rob Dowdy says:

    Read what I just replied to you in another thread and you’ll know. :)

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama is promoting attacks on Medicare and Social Security and betrayed his promise for a public option. He and the Democrats are just as criminal as the Republicans.

    As Jane Hamsher at FDL points out “Obama has made a deliberate and concerted effort to cut Social Security benefits since the time he took office. …”

    Democrats are the enemy – so are Republicans.

  19. Bill_Perdue says:

    In the US the prison system housed 1,571,013 prisoners( at the end of 2012). With few exceptions prisoners are from the working class, and/or suffered from abuse and/or are victimized based on skin color or ethnicity. Large numbers of of them do time with labor, which is slave labor.

    Of current prisoners sociopaths and psychopaths should be incarcerated in psychiatric institutions. As for working class prisoners they should be pardoned as a group, rehabilitated, paid high trade union wages and benefits and a full education, be provided with socialized medicine and guaranteed good jobs.

    The prisons should then be refilled with

    – predatory and profit gouging lenders,

    – cult leaders, the rich (who got rich by stealing),

    – corrupt judges, prosecutors and cops,

    – anyone at any level of government or the military who voted to fund wars of aggression, lied and plotted to begin wars of aggression, murdered American citizens critical of their wars, or committed war crimes and crimes against humanity,

    – and anyone who voted for or championed DADT, DOMA, NAFTA, deregulation, tax cuts for the rich or gutting Medicare and Social Security.

    The US penal system is based on draconian drug laws, an extension of Jim Crow law which were an extension of slavery. These are not national problems in nations like the US, Russia, China, etc. These are the problems of nations with a reactionary anti-working class government and penal system ruled by the voracious rich.

    In Russia the criminal leaders who use the prison system for unpaid labor are the gangster capitalists. In China the maltreatment of workers is organized by Maoists and in the US the rich, along with their lapdogs in the Democrat and Republican parties promote a return to slavery for working class prisoners and wage slavery for the rest of the working workers.

  20. karmanot says:

    Now why in the hell did this story get a down vote?

  21. karmanot says:

    “And, exactly, how did emotion lead to antibiotics?” Probably via the Vega nerve and the inspiration of compassion.

  22. karmanot says:

    What’s that?

  23. vonlmo says:

    How does the owner of this blog allow such treason,to-the-deification-of-Obama, be posted. Obama is Raul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler, John Rabe to gay people. Ignore the fact that he has betrayed the trust of those who voted for him, in 2 elections, in hopes of more than a tempered Republican.

  24. Rob Dowdy says:

    What in the world are you talking about?

    And who in the world would down vote that comment? I must be really terrible at expressing myself in words … either that or reading comprehension around here is far worse than I imagined!

  25. emjayay says:

    Hey I have four ups now. Wooo-hooo!

  26. Bill_Perdue says:

    ^^^^ Downvoting stalkers. Awwww.

  27. emjayay says:

    For the efficiency of the capitalist free enterprise system labor must be relocatable and with cheap fast transportation we can do that. Individuals are individual units, not primarily part of an extended family like in a pre-modern capitalism society. Family members tend to disperse all over the continent or even world. So the system that relies on that has the responsibility to deal with the situation it has created. This isn’t a revolutionary new thought or anything.

  28. Jim says:

    And, exactly, how did emotion lead to antibiotics?
    By the way, if an argument is circular, it is not logic; it is a logical fallacy.

  29. karmanot says:

    Excellent comment. Costco pays its employees a living wage in these parts and I believe has a good benefits package.

  30. Rob Dowdy says:

    The funny part is, people think to themselves, “Well, it sucks that Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, etc. pay so little and provide so few benefits, but I don’t want to pay [some exorbitant amount] for a pack of underwear or a Big Mac!”

    Which is just patently stupid in an era where these same companies are posting record profits quarter after quarter. How much profit do they need? The free market answer is “ALL OF IT,” which is fine if you’re a corporation, but despite what Mr. Romney once tried to tell us, corporations aren’t people.

    The corporations have done an excellent job of convincing consumers that higher wages = higher prices, because the “free market,” profit-driven mentality says that any new cost must be passed directly to the customer because profit must be maximized no matter what.

    What they are desperately — and successfully — trying to keep anyone from talking about is that you could offset that by having higher wages instead equal a small bump in price for the consumer and (the horror!) modestly lower profits for the corporation.

  31. karmanot says:

    You are a good human being.

  32. karmanot says:

    Logic is merely a tool, not some universal truth. Cynics, sophists and religious fathers all use ‘logic’ mostly, circular, to ‘prove’ the rationality of even the most spurious concepts. Emotion, I would argue is the passion that creates and advances ideas…some evil, like free trade, and others progressive like communal well being.

  33. Rob Dowdy says:

    Last year, the week of Thanksgiving, my grandma had to have major heart surgery. We were all gathered around, of course, and she was 3 or 4 days out from the surgery when Thanksgiving came around so we brought a big dinner in and even let her have a few nibbles of things that weren’t strictly approved for her diet (with a wink and a nod from the nurses).

    Since we were on the cardiac recovery floor, most of the patients were older. I had figured the hospital would be bustling on Thanksgiving day with all the families come to see their old people. It was weirdly empty. I even asked the nurses and one of them pointed to several different rooms in turn and said, “That one never gets any visitors. That one has no relatives that we know of …” and so on. They were mostly going to be shipped off to rehab facilities.

    My grandma had to go to one, too, but my mom ended up pulling her out when they served her — no shit — the saltiest mashed potatoes on earth and the sweetest tea you’ve ever tasted. She was only a tightly-restricted no-salt/no-sugar diet!

    The final straw was when they left grandma sitting in a wheelchair (she’s up and about now just fine, better than before the surgery, but at the time she couldn’t stand without help) with her legs hanging down. Her legs that were so full of fluid that they were oozing a puddle into the floor and desperately needed to be elevated and covered in compression bandages.

    It was disgusting and disturbing that this was a licensed rehab facility designed to get old people back on their feet after major heart surgery.

    My mom took off work for the rest of the year, maybe 3 months total, at great personal financial cost, and took care of her at home.

    This notion the right-wingers always toss out about “charity” replacing welfare and “family” taking care of their own is utter, utter bullshit. My grandma was lucky to have the help and support of a family but that hospital and that “rehab center” (it was a storage locker, nothing more) were chock full of people who had no one to support them or even advocate for them.

    So anyone who thinks your comment here is just snark and histrionics, not something that could actually happen in the real world, is deluded.

  34. Rob Dowdy says:

    If by “too expensive” you are lamenting that US manufacturers aren’t allowed to stack employees in “dorms” like cordwood, without access to proper food or hygiene facilities … and then charge them rent for their deprivation out of the tiny amount they’re actually paid, then, yes, it is way too expensive to do business in the US or any other civilized part of the world.

    If you want the US to be competitive you have to stoop to whatever level it takes to make that happen, right? No matter the human rights abuses it takes, or the horrific, unsafe conditions required to make it so?

    No. You have to punish those companies in places like China that treat people as if they are less valuable than the sewing machines they operate. And you have to punish countries like China for allowing it in the first place.

  35. Asterix says:

    “Cheap Chinese labor” is beginning to look a lot like a red herring. Consider the following just posted not too long ago:

    Taxes seem to have little to do with the technological advance of countries. Consider the period between 1960-1969. It started off with the highest marginal income tax rate of 91 percent ($400,000 and over) and ended with 71.75 percent (but on $200K and above). During this period, technology, civil rights, education and the economy experienced explosive growth.

    Now compare that with 2000-2009, 39% to 35%. And what did we get? More corporate tax dodges, wars, and collapse of the middle class.

    It might be a good idea to tax any capital entering the US as income to start with. Otherwise, there are too many ways for the wealthy to cheat the system.

  36. Jim says:

    Hi Gaius,

    Nice post. Like how you referenced the free in free trade. I call this justification language: language used to justify a position, not because of its logic, but because of its emotional appeal.

    The idea of justification language hit me when I was in a Colonial American graduate seminar. I noticed that in the federalist/anti-federalist papers how the authors were attempting to define emotionally dear concepts. The concept of republic and freedom were held dear by many colonialists; however, they were yet to be defined. It was in the debate between federalists and anti-federalists that the definitions began to understood and accepted. Note, though, that the importance lay in the fact that the public already had an emotional attachment to the words. Once the words were defined, even those who opposed the definitions were at a disadvantage. For example, once the idea that a republic was defined as a government with a strong federal government, those who opposed a strong federal government were at a disadvantage. To argue against a strong federal government was to argue against the republic. Since many have a very strong emotional attachment to the word republic, it became very difficult to make an argument against a strong federal government which had been defined as part and parcel of a republic. Or, probably better put: it is difficult to have a rational discussion based on emotionally held views.

    Those in favor of a strong federal government justified their position by equating it with the emotionally charged, but not yet defined, word republic. Hence, justification language.

    A less successful battle was over the emotionally charged and cherished word, freedom, which tended to split along north south. Was freedom to be the freedom from being owned, or was freedom the ability to own people. This was decided not with the pen, but with a war.

    In your article, the compound word free-trade is part of the right’s justification language. You have two emotionally charged words: free and trade. The right is justifying its monopoly on money by cloaking it with the word free-trade. Free trade could just as easily be defined as the ability to trade without the hinderance of monopolistic corporations. If small businesses were a major part of the discussion, you would probably see a word war about the compound word, free-trade. But, the media tend to use the right’s justification language. Right now the corporate aristocracy has a tremendous advantage. To argue against free-trade is to argue against the emotionally charged word free. Hence to argue against it implies that you are against freedom. That is the insidiousness of justification language: it is resistant to logic.


  37. Bill_Perdue says:


  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    Free trade agreements, first signed by the bigot named Clinton, who also signed DOMA, DADT and the deregulation bills that created the current depression, are redefining capitalism and taking it back to its roots – arrogant destruction of the environment, wage slavery, rabid imperial wars and attacks on civil liberties and rights.

    The rulers of the US began to reimpose austerity under Carter and it’s gotten worse under every administration and Congress since then but Clinton, Bush2 and Obama have accelerated it to the point that poverty and unemployment are now permanent and defining features of life almost everywhere on the planet.

    “First of all, who are they?” (The rich.) “Mostly the 1%. But the top 2-5% have also done quite well, increasing their inflation-adjusted wealth by 75 percent from 1983 to 2009 while average wealth went down for 80 percent of American households. The rest of the top 20% have been prosperous, realizing a 32 percent gain in inflation-adjusted wealth since 1983. The facts to follow are primarily about the richest 1%, with occasional dips into the groups scrambling to make it to the top.

    Democrats and Republicans have the same program when it comes to wars, imposed austerity, union busting and wrecking the environment. That facts dooms them. They’re dinosaurs and the comet is coming.

  39. karmanot says:

    The old South also made a case for cheaper labor. It was called slavery.

  40. pappyvet says:

    Capitalism is not just another tool in the arsenal of Democracy,Democracy has become the footstool of capitalism.

  41. iamlegion says:

    Aye, that’s the rub. My best guess on a starting place would be an enforcement of transparency – make it impossible for companies to hide their finances. Make it so that anyone can see the flow in & out of countries, without companies using layers and layers of cut-outs to disguise their interest and influence.

    How? I’m afraid that’s deeper than I can figure. But anything that can be hidden will be hidden, and will be used immorally.

  42. samizdat says:

    When the gaping maw that is global capitalism chews up one country and spits it out, it’s a good bet the predators running things won’t look back, and will scarcely acknowledge the privation and suffering left in the wake of their unregulated activities. Unless it can be taken as a tax write-off.

    This is why I refer to corporations as ‘supranationals’: Sovereignty is an impediment to profit, and so are the rights of human beings to exist an impediment to profit–anywhere and everywhere.

    Profit kills. Literally.

  43. samizdat says:

    Oh, my Dog, you’re an idiot. For proof, read below.

  44. fletcher says:

    Quadruple ditto!

  45. karmanot says:

    The good news is that they hire subversive servants. A pissed off housekeeper unraveled Meg Whitman’s run for CA governor a while back.

  46. karmanot says:

    How-a-bout something like the Mondragon corporations in Spain. Here:

  47. karmanot says:

    Oh yes, I understood. And, I do approve of your literary form. What I suspect is that your up arrow might not. It’s hard to tell these days with snark and up or down arrows by anon. guests. Snark is so close to truth these days that it requires a special subset of serious response. :-)

  48. emjayay says:

    Apparently. But how, on a world wide basis?

  49. emjayay says:

    You didn’t understand that it was entirely sarcasm? Or you just don’t approve of that particular literary form? I guess the up arrow person did.

  50. Indigo says:

    Meanwhile on the cutting edge of irony here in Central Florida, George Zimmerman (remember him?) has been detained by the police this afternoon for threatening his wife and her dad with a gun. Shades of OJ!

  51. The_Fixer says:

    Not hardly.

    Big money, in an effort to expand its purse, always looks for the next cheapest place to raid for cheap labor. As soon as those who provide the cheap labor figure out haw badly they’re getting F*cked, they ask for more money and more regulation.

    Why? Look here to see what the Chinese are discovering about “burdensome regulation” (that it’s necessary):

    When the cheap labor figures out they’re getting screwed and speaks up for themselves, asking for more money and more regulation, the big money moves on; they’ve been found out and need to raid another country for its cheap labor source. The money bubble that this article speaks of is only part of the problem.

    You see, the real burden here is borne by those left behind, economically, environmentally and physically. They real burden is what happens to these people, not to the big money people who are moving money from country to country in an effort to increase their own wealth.

    So do spare me the talk of the burden of regulation. People are getting poisoned when there’s no regulation. People are getting abused economically when there’s no regulation. Political systems are getting corrupted when there’s no regulation.

    Freedom ain’t free, and “free trade” is one of the most insidiously costly of “freedoms.”

  52. Indigo says:

    Every generation dies off eventually, of course, but it is starting to look like there’s a corporate compulsion to push us off their flat earth a little earlier than entirely necessary.

  53. Indigo says:

    Double ditto!

  54. karmanot says:

    A capital example—-Detroit or Camden NJ.

  55. karmanot says:

    Or turn another Lasa into a cheap Las Vegas.

  56. karmanot says:

    Sounds like a Tea-ass dream. With carnivorous trolls like the Romney’s of the nation in charge we could probably shave off ten or twenty million seniors from service and save money by abandoning them. Damn, snark is too close to reality these days. And, some A’hole gave you an up arrow for that.

  57. karmanot says:

    “US companies would have to increase the desirability of US product to account for the higher prices.” It is full summer in America. Heirloom Tomatoes cost about $2.00 a poiece, a bell pepper $.59, milk almost $4.00, bread rising to $5 or 6 dollars a loaf here in California—at Safeway. Seniors on fixed incomes walk out of these big box stores having taken every discount and savings possible with one plastic bag and a hundred dollar hole in survival Social Security. The day will come when massive social turmoil will rack this god forsaken country and it will be richly deserved. American exceptionalism ….my ass.

  58. karmanot says:

    ditto on that Nicho!

  59. karmanot says:

    It seems increasingly true that the older among us will run out of funds, be stored for illness we can’t afford and die off. When histrionics and snark become true, the end is near.

  60. karmanot says:

    Superb article Gaius. Another voice to carry is that of Michael Whitney. TOG should be the next move to remove the heads of these venomous snakes—The Old Guillotine.

  61. nicho says:

    Horse shit

  62. iamlegion says:

    Can we have the trade part without the bubble part?
    Not without government regulation and oversight. Not without financial transparency. Giving people the ability to play with billions of dollars and then just hoping they’ll “do the right thing” is a pure fool’s game.

  63. iamlegion says:

    No. The US didn’t suddenly wake up one morning to a huge raft of regs and taxes that suddenly destroyed our competitiveness. China (and other countries) _undercut_ the cost of doing business in the US. In a simple economic system (not seen outside a textbook exercise), the US would have to either cut wages/business expenses to a competitive level or US companies would have to increase the desirability of US product to account for the higher prices. But in the real world, US standards of living are such that we can’t support $1/day labor wages. And quality can’t make up that difference. And without free-trade-restraining regulations, that won’t change until worker wages go down to starvation levels and we begin to see violent worker-led revolutions. That’s how serfdom works – a few generations get to live high on the hog, until things get pushed too far, and then it’s “everyone against the wall!”

  64. emjayay says:

    You forgot that some local well connected and ruthless people also often get really rich and can buy Rolls Royces with drivers and mansions and stuff like that.

  65. emjayay says:

    Of course. They can also dump the externalities on the rest of the world like industry in the West used to. Obviously we should eliminate all our intrusive pollution laws and let industry poison the rivers and lakes and rivers not to mention the workers just like they used to in the good old days. Eliminating OSHA and all building inspections and fire safety requirements and inspections would also save industry and taxpayers a lot of money.

  66. Indigo says:

    Then pollution-damaged China is left to live in the gullies of a destroyed ecosystem not unlike Appalachia.

  67. Indigo says:

    National autonomy is increasingly obsolete. That this is happening is most likely unstoppable, how we protect ourselves and our pathetic nest eggs is apparently unknowable.

  68. Monoceros Forth says:

    And when the people of China have finally had enough of being the world’s indentured servants and your vaunted “advantage” is gone, what then? Or do you imagine that China will be run by an oligarchy of corrupt (but advantageous) autocrats forever?

  69. guest1 says:

    The government made manufacturing too expensive in this country with all the taxes and regulatory burdens, cheaper labor in China is only one advantage there of many.

  70. lilyannerose says:

    World domination is no longer a matter of massive armies on the march instead it’s board rooms and cell phones.

  71. emjayay says:

    It seems like the classical economics idea of free trade isn’t the problembut the massive flows of capital inflating and supercharging economies until they crash and then abandoning them for the next opportunity. Can we have the trade part without the bubble part? A bit of slow creative destriction is maybe eventually a good thing, but the speed and overeaching that results is.

  72. iamlegion says:

    This would seem to be the clear result of the (utterly bogus) concept of ‘supply-side economics’. If country X has cheap labor, investors flood in. But because of ‘free flow’, country X never sees any benefits from that in the long term… a bunch of locals get jobs & maybe a little wage increase, but as soon as wages go above the level of country Y, all the investment runs back out like the tide. The government of X never got any tax revenue from the investors, the workers are all out of jobs now, and worldwide wage levels go down just a tick more. It’s clearly great for the individual investors, but it’s disastrous for literally every other entity in the equation. The only reason it happens at all is because investors find ways to bribe or coerce governments to sign up for ‘free trade’. The decision-makers get their payday, and their countries get the shaft. Every. Single. Time.

  73. Excellent post!

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