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kojax
 Post subject: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the difference?  |  Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:24 am
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 Either way, every country's goal is to maximize exports. What does it help for them to do so by attempting to artificially devalue their own currency (creating the equivalent of a universal tariff on all imports), rather than just having ordinary tariffs?The only difference I can see is that you would likely have to ruin your own economy if you want to devalue your own currency. Doesn't that just create a situation where everyone is competing to be the worst failure, so their currency will be lowest? How is it any surprise the world is in a recession?
marnixR
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:52 am

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 mind you, the introduction of the euro in most of the EU has made the option of devaluation an impossibility, and see what problems it has caused - if greece had been allowed to devalue its currency the greeks would have been the poorer for it, but it wouldn't have dragged the rest of europe into the mire _________________"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:18 pm

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 kojax wrote:Either way, every country's goal is to maximize exports. What does it help for them to do so by attempting to artificially devalue their own currency (creating the equivalent of a universal tariff on all imports), rather than just having ordinary tariffs?If you were to travel to Chile, and every $1 you had was worth$10 in Chile, you'd be able to buy more. You'd visit, you'd spend more, and the Chile economy would be better off because more people like you would be more motivated to spend. This would have a net benefit to the Chilean economy, a net increase to the GDP, and all because of a slight devaluation.Also, by devaluaing a currency, it allows the debt levels held by that nation to be worth less in real dollars. If I have $10 in debt to you, then when your currency is devalued I can pay off that debt more rapidly and with less pain. That$10 doesn't represent such an incredible loss to my own savings since the exchange rate between our currencies once your currency has fluctuated and worth less than it was when we entered into the agreement/contract. It doesn't ruin an economy to temporarily deflate the currency. Quite the opposite, really. It drives investment from other countries. It increases revenues through payments for labor, manufactured goods (just look at why China is so powerful... they deflated their currency and everyone started buying stuff from them since they could get more for each dollar spent), and increased tourism and shopping.This is not why the world is in a recession. The world is in a recession because investments flooded into European countries formally seen as unsafe investments. When those unsafe countries joined the Euro, they were seen as safer investments and cash poured in. Exports were inflated, housing was purchased and inflated, etc. Normally there are small shocks to the system and these imbalances are not detrimental. However, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rest of the banking crisis was a HUGE shock to the system... credit dried up... the economy seized... and all of that investment stopped. The revenues those countries (like Greece) relied on to finance their activities ended between two sunrises... In a snap... a flash... boom, it was gone. The trade balance (huge revenues through investments) those countries enjoyed for so long suddenly went away, yet all of the expenditures being financed through those revenues were still in place. This didn't happen because they devalued their currency. It happened because their source of revenue dried up overnight.The problem was then magnified as everyone started saving and paying down debts at the same time. Everyone stopped spending at once, and this caused a self-reinforcing downward spiral where demand continues to weaken and then MORE people start saving and spending less causing demand to decrease even more...Your comments about devaluation are moot. Devaluation will help these countries come back, including the US (it will spur large investments, put people back to work, consequently increasing tax revenues, increasing demand, and putting more people back to work...). Additionally, the single best thing that could happen in Europe would be for Germany to allow a bit of inflation... so the debts owed them by other countries would decrease in real terms... The $10 owed to Germany would suddenly be more like$5 and easier to pay off and achieve balance again.These are fairly basic concepts found in any Econ 101 book. They are correct, even though so many people are choosing to ignore them and make up explanations on the fly... explanations consistently showing to be wrong, misguided, and unhelpful. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:08 am
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 I understand how having a devalued currency is beneficial. It's just unfortunate what you have to do in order to achieve it. Why make that the only option? Isn't it foolish to limit one's own options?Maybe I should rephrase the question: do you know of any non-suicidal ways to devalue a country's currency? Is there any way other than just screwing up so badly that your currency falls to reflect the level of economic failure? Failing in order to succeed just doesn't seem like a very sound strategy. I can only think of one non-suicidal approach off hand. China buying up debt in the USA is a good example. By extending us loans in our own currency, they prevent those dollars from getting exchanged, which keeps their own Yuan/Renminbi low. Technically it's a bubble, because the exchange rate only stays low if they never actually try to cash in on those loans. If they started cashing them in for Yuan/Renminbi and thereby revalued their home currency, the apparent worth of the loans would diminish. That could be a very big and sudden loss for them.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:23 pm

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 kojax wrote:I understand how having a devalued currency is beneficial. It's just unfortunate what you have to do in order to achieve it. Why make that the only option? Isn't it foolish to limit one's own options?It's not the ONLY option. However, other options (like lowering the interest rate) have already been performed and proven not to be substantial enough to mitigate the massive nature of the shock we experienced. Another option is fiscal stimulus. That would help tremendously, but is difficult politically.kojax wrote:Maybe I should rephrase the question: do you know of any non-suicidal ways to devalue a country's currency?Yes, I think most ways are not suicidal. I think there are exceptions, but as a rule this can be done very effectively and with minimal negative impact.kojax wrote:Is there any way other than just screwing up so badly that your currency falls to reflect the level of economic failure?I'm not sure I understand your question. This can generally be handled at the level of a central banking institution, and does not rely solely on chaos as you've implied. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:16 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:19 pm

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 kojax wrote:For a fiscal stimulus to work you have to borrow money. If you borrow money, then someone will be the lender. If China is the lender, then their home currency will benefit by being devalued relative to the dollar when they lend us the dollars instead of exchanging them for Yuan to spend domestically. Basically, lending can work as a patch to the trade imbalance. Instead of buying enough American goods to balance out the dollars/yuan exchange rate, they buy a bunch of American IOU's. It has the same effect as if they had purchased goods (except Americans don't directly make any money off of the transaction like they would if actual goods had been purchased.)You're quite plainly oversimplifying a complex situation. Right now, the cost to keeping unemployment high in real terms is higher than the cost of borrowing... Especially given the extremely low borrowing interest rate. By engaging in what you propose, you're actually INCREASING the long term deficit and making the situation worse in the long-term.kojax wrote:I'm pretty sure the reason Europe is going to Austerity measures is because they're starting to see what it does to their exchange rate when they borrow.Whatever the reason they're going to austerity measures, ALL indicators suggest it's merely making the situation worse.kojax wrote:I don't see how any government or central bank would ever be able to exercise meaningful control over that, unless it just goes around buying foreign currencies in bulk.Your personal incredulity fails to serve as a convincing argument. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:14 pm
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:26 am

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 You've made many assertions and failed to support each. You then suggested I was arguing on blind faith. Why should I bother continuing this conversation? If you're convinced of your position and unwilling to entertain alternative viewpoints, then it's a waste of time. I've shown you the respect to consider your perspective, and I explained why I thought it was wrong. If you're unable or unwilling to reciprocate, I have no interest in continuing. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:18 am
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 I've been trying to figure out what you mean by saying I don't present evidence. I think you prefer "for instance" type references. X happened before Y, therefore X caused Y. Of course that amount of simplicity doesn't always describe real events, but I can see how it's better than just describing the pattern. And it allows a better description. I'm going to go point by point through your last big post. The evidence is right there. Anything I present will be redundant until I construct my own narrative (for example, I might narrate the progression of China's economy from the mid 80's to present to show how currency tricks work.)Where I think you and I mostly disagree (though only slightly) is about how currency exchange rates are manipulated. I see it as a simple auction, bids vs. offers. So the only way to make a lasting change is to find a way to buy up lots of foreign currency. You are correct in stating that manipulating inflation inside one's own economy can affect it also.iNow wrote:kojax wrote:Either way, every country's goal is to maximize exports. What does it help for them to do so by attempting to artificially devalue their own currency (creating the equivalent of a universal tariff on all imports), rather than just having ordinary tariffs?If you were to travel to Chile, and every $1 you had was worth$10 in Chile, you'd be able to buy more. You'd visit, you'd spend more, and the Chile economy would be better off because more people like you would be more motivated to spend. This would have a net benefit to the Chilean economy, a net increase to the GDP, and all because of a slight devaluation.Also, by devaluaing a currency, it allows the debt levels held by that nation to be worth less in real dollars. If I have $10 in debt to you, then when your currency is devalued I can pay off that debt more rapidly and with less pain. That$10 doesn't represent such an incredible loss to my own savings since the exchange rate between our currencies once your currency has fluctuated and worth less than it was when we entered into the agreement/contract. Up to this point, I had no disagreement with you. Clearly devaluing a currency is good in the current global system. In effect, it's like having a tariff across the board, covering everything the other country wishes to sell to you, while having a subsidy on your home production when it is sold to their consumers. Using ordinary tariffs, the other country would be free to tariff you back, but when it's a favorable currency exchange rate the effect is wholly beneficial to one side. The downside: the other country will attempt to manipulate its home currency back against yours. You'll constantly be in a competition for "who can get their currency lower?", which may get in the way of other economic objectives (or may not, depending on how lucky you are about the other matters.) Not because it directly conflicts with having a good economy, but I mean for the same reason as you might find it difficult to flip a pancake whilst standing on your head and whistling the national anthem. Quote:It doesn't ruin an economy to temporarily deflate the currency. Quite the opposite, really. It drives investment from other countries. It increases revenues through payments for labor, manufactured goods (just look at why China is so powerful... they deflated their currency and everyone started buying stuff from them since they could get more for each dollar spent), and increased tourism and shopping.It doesn't always ruin an economy to deflate the currency. It depends on what else is going on. Sometimes you need to inflate it for reasons that have nothing to do with your currency exchange rate. At those moments you'll end up having to choose whether to screw all the businesses that depend on export, or screw the businesses that need to you inflate. Fewer degrees of freedom means you have less ability to maneuver. With tariffs, you're only changing one thing when you adjust them, instead of two things. Quote:This is not why the world is in a recession. The world is in a recession because investments flooded into European countries formally seen as unsafe investments. When those unsafe countries joined the Euro, they were seen as safer investments and cash poured in. Exports were inflated, housing was purchased and inflated, etc. Why do you think those investments happened? Why were there so many people just dying to lend? My answer is: Countries such as China were trying to unload foreign currencies in order to keep their home currency low. As long as we're all competing to devalue our home currencies, there will always be hordes of lenders willing to take an unsafe bet. Think about it. After you've gone out and bought up a fist full of dollars/euros/rubles... etc in order to keep your home country's yuan low, what will you do with them? Will you throw them under a mattress? You can't spend them on tangible goods because that will affect your trade balance. I think you would invest them anywhere you can so they won't go to waste. Including unsafe places. Quote:Normally there are small shocks to the system and these imbalances are not detrimental. However, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rest of the banking crisis was a HUGE shock to the system... credit dried up... the economy seized... and all of that investment stopped. The revenues those countries (like Greece) relied on to finance their activities ended between two sunrises... In a snap... a flash... boom, it was gone. The trade balance (huge revenues through investments) those countries enjoyed for so long suddenly went away, yet all of the expenditures being financed through those revenues were still in place. This didn't happen because they devalued their currency. It happened because their source of revenue dried up overnight.Ok, so in my version, a bubble popped. All these reckless investors had put so much money in so many unsafe bets, that when the first major collapse happened, they weren't ready for it. According to my version of events, similar collapses will continue to happen as long as globalization continues because we're creating too much of an incentive for people to hold onto currency (investing it wherever they can) instead of spending it. Usually, knowing an investment is risky is a deterrent to investors. But, if that disincentive is countered by a strong enough incentive (such as the need to devalue their home currency by holding and not spending foreign currencies), they'll do stupid things, because the alternative is to let the money sit and do nothing. Quote:The problem was then magnified as everyone started saving and paying down debts at the same time. Everyone stopped spending at once, and this caused a self-reinforcing downward spiral where demand continues to weaken and then MORE people start saving and spending less causing demand to decrease even more...I won't disagree with you on this. Once the initial conditions were in place, the downward spiral was pretty much inevitable. However, globalization had quite a hand in putting those initial conditions in place. Quote:Your comments about devaluation are moot. Devaluation will help these countries come back, including the US (it will spur large investments, put people back to work, consequently increasing tax revenues, increasing demand, and putting more people back to work...). Additionally, the single best thing that could happen in Europe would be for Germany to allow a bit of inflation... so the debts owed them by other countries would decrease in real terms... The $10 owed to Germany would suddenly be more like$5 and easier to pay off and achieve balance again.You realize, don't you, that for Germany to do that would be the same as if they simply forgave half the debt? Most investors are smart enough to realize that if their ROI is smaller than the rate of inflation, then they are losing money (unlike most workers, who often do not realize that if their salary increases by less than the rate of inflation, they're taking a pay cut.)To be clear: I don't disagree that devaluing one's currency creates a good result. I only disagree that it can be achieved without sacrificing something (possibly something more valuable.)However, if every country on Earth were to simultaneously devalue its home currency by the same amount, the result would be nothing. No benefit. No liability. If every country on Earth sacrifices something to achieve that, then they will have given up something for nothing.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:35 pm

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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:56 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:06 pm

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 kojax wrote:If country A devalues their home currency in an effort to gain a trade advantage against country B, and country B devalues their home currency in an effort to gain a trade advantage with country A. ...... In the end, it's actually quite possible that neither currency changes in relative value. If one does pull out ahead, it may not be by much. Right, but my larger point in that exchange was that if country C... who is purchasing goods/services from countries A and B... also has to devalue its currency at the same time as countries A and B do, then effect is minimized and the benefit essentially washed out.kojax wrote:Quote:kojax wrote:It doesn't always ruin an economy to deflate the currency. It depends on what else is going on. I agree, and that's precisely my point. It is, however, quite different from the original position you put forth above.Yeah. I'm starting to understand what you mean when you tell me I'm leaving important bits out. No worries. kojax wrote:Certainly the primary thing that we lose when we compete to devalue our home currency is the ability to use whatever financial tools we're employing, so they're not available to do other things. I do not know what you mean here. Why would other options to deal with the crisis go away if they devalue their currency? They still have fiscal options and many more.kojax wrote:I agree that the shocks themselves are the big issue right now. However, if we only focus on dealing with them we're doomed to repeat history. I'd hate for us to borrow and spend our way out from under this only to have it happen again just as bad. We might not have enough credit to do it twice. Fair enough, but I'm inclined to think that the cost of borrowing right now is lower than the cost of letting the situation continue to deteriorate.Longer term, you and I are closely aligned. It's important to deal with deficits, and trade balances, and currency values in a way that ensures future strength. We don't disagree. Where the differing opinions seem to come in is with timing. You appear to want to do this now. I want us to take steps to get out of the current depression and not repeat the mistakes of 1937 where fiscal contraction was implemented too soon and the results were disastrous. Contract after stabilization, not before. Contracting now makes stability less likely, not more. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:35 am

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 Peripheral, but related...http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/07/r ... reece.htmlQuote:As I say, four issues: Q: Who pays for the fact that German banks lent money to Greek politicians who did not have a mandate to impose the future taxes needed to pay the money back? A: German banks and taxpayers. Q: How is Greece to balance its taxes and government spending going forward? A: That's the Greeks' business. Q: How is Greece going to balance its imports and exports going forward? A: Three possibilities: (i) continued depression, keeping Greece so poor they don't want to buy any imports; (ii) higher inflation in Germany so that Greek relative costs can gradually decline over time coupled with substantial aid from Germany to keep the costs of internal adjustment bearable; (iii) exit from the eurozone, default, devaluation, and the subsequent export boom. Q: What happens if Greece chooses option (iii)? A: Germany faces the same dilemma then as it does now, only with Italy, Portugal, and Spain rather than Greece, and at ten times the size.Sensible German politicians would choose option (3.ii). Senseless German politicians would try to push for option (3.i) and might well wind up with option (3.iii). _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:21 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:58 pm

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 kojax wrote:The problem here is that the most likely way they'll each go about devaluing their own currency is by buying up as much as they can of the other two countries' currencies and sitting on the money. But, they can't just sit on it.Sure, they can, but they can also invest it in infrastructure spending like building roads, bridges, solar power plants, schools, parks, etc.kojax wrote:The Federal Reserve, similarly, might be able to help our economy in other ways if it isn't tied up trying to deal with our foreign exchange rates. They can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, my friend. It's not like they can only do one thing and all other options suddenly evaporate because they are focused on QE. I'd be curious to learn why you seem to think otherwise.kojax wrote:There is one third option, of course, which is to simply reimpose our tariffs and isolate ourselves from this silly game until the rest of the world figures out it's a dumb game to play and quits playing it. I don't think that's possible, nor really a valid option at all. I know ideologically it has a strong emotional valence with the libertarian mindset, but given the reality on the ground it's pure fantasy. To clarify, I want you to understand that when I read that comment from you, I see it like you're suggesting that, "If we poison our air too much, we'll simply prevent ourselves from breathing ever again and that will make it all better." It's like cutting off the nose to spite the face, IMO. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:01 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:18 am

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 kojax wrote:Hiring workers from where? If I'm holding a billion Chinese Yuan, I can't use those Yuan to build a bridge in California. The workers will not want to be paid in Yuan. Are you unfamiliar with the concept of exchange? Is this a serious point?kojax wrote:Your domestic fiscal policy has to be either: A) - DeflateB) - Hold Steadyor C) - Inflate. You can also invest, and divert, and regulate, and all manner of other things. Your list is incomplete.kojax wrote:It sounds all social-darwinian-survival-of-the-fittest, but you've got to consider that no sane investor would ever realistically want their money floating around in that market.And yet they invest in it each day. Again, your position seems blind to the reality on the ground. Great as an ideal, but far too disconnected from what actually happens in the markets each day.kojax wrote:If you keep things stable, however, then there will only ever be a very small percent of the investments going bust.The economy is inherently unstable, no matter what your ideology. It is an enormously complex dynamic system of trades and purchases and sales and investments and savings and creation and destruction. Stability is an illusion. At best, we find momentary equilibrium, but not stability IMO. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:03 pm
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 iNow wrote:kojax wrote:Hiring workers from where? If I'm holding a billion Chinese Yuan, I can't use those Yuan to build a bridge in California. The workers will not want to be paid in Yuan. Are you unfamiliar with the concept of exchange? Is this a serious point?If I'm holding Yuan, in an attempt to devalue the Dollar by buying up Yuan, and then I exchange those Yuan for dollars..... Then I just undid what I was trying to do. Quote:kojax wrote:It sounds all social-darwinian-survival-of-the-fittest, but you've got to consider that no sane investor would ever realistically want their money floating around in that market.And yet they invest in it each day. Again, your position seems blind to the reality on the ground. Great as an ideal, but far too disconnected from what actually happens in the markets each day.Really? You're seeing a lot of venture capital investors out there? I'm not. Interest rates are incredibly low, but it's for other kinds of investment. Over the last few years we've seen a lot of businesses close their doors because they simply can't get loans or float bonds to keep themselves liquid. http://woodwardhall.wordpress.com/2009/ ... recession/http://bizfinance.about.com/od/investor ... stries.htmHow smart would it be to give someone a 20 year loan knowing their business depends on export/import using exchange rates that are likely to fluctuate wildly? Even China isn't a good investment these days, because they're having trouble keeping their currency pegged. Quote:kojax wrote:If you keep things stable, however, then there will only ever be a very small percent of the investments going bust.The economy is inherently unstable, no matter what your ideology. It is an enormously complex dynamic system of trades and purchases and sales and investments and savings and creation and destruction. Stability is an illusion. At best, we find momentary equilibrium, but not stability IMO.That's just silly. Of course the economy can experience varying degrees of stability. Certainly the absolute ideal of perfect stability is unattainable (just as the absolute ideal of a zero crime rate is unattainable.... but we still trouble ourselves to hire police.)Businesses have to be able to promise some amount of consistency in their dealings with customers in order to establish and maintain business relationships. An unstable exchange rate makes it nearly impossible to afford to give them a stable price.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:40 pm

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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:28 pm
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:41 pm

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 So, you think imposing massive tariffs will fix everything? How are you accounting for the effect that will have on the ~30% of our GDP that results from exports? How are you accounting for the retaliatory tariffs that would consequently be imposed on us? Are you considering how other more rogue nations will step in to fill any voids? _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
marnixR
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:39 am

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 i think it's a pretty well-known fact that tariffs slow down international trade - maybe not so much of a problem a century ago, but in the current global village it would only exacerbate the recession _________________"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:46 am
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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:07 am
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 I can see how, in cases where a country genuinely has the ability to offer us something we couldn't get on our own at a reasonable price, then international trade would be essential. But the rest of the time it's quite pointless. I'm sure those foreign markets look like huge piles of gold, the likes of which we'd never find at home, but that's just the fundamental problem people always have of thinking the grass is greener on the other side. It's like how a lot of married men have trouble being faithful to their wives. Those other women around them that they haven't been with yet just seem so much better somehow. But labor.... of all things.... labor can't really be superior in quality in one country over another, not unless their education system is just that much superior. It may seem that way, but if it does this is only because some essential factor or another is being ignored. If we benefit from trade at all, its either because the other country has a better established industry, or a natural resource, which we don't. Or (sometimes) because we have one they don't. Or (ideally) both.
marnixR
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:01 pm

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 kojax wrote:What's so great about international trade? Domestic trade is still economic activity, and can be expected to represent a more stable and reliable form of growth.i'm sorry but these days you just can't live as if there's no other country on earth than the USwhether you like it or not, the global village is here to stay, which means international trade or nothing _________________"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:00 am

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 Exactly. That's almost word for word what I was thinking when I previously mentioned that the approach being described is simply unrealistic and disconnected from reality. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:32 pm
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 marnixR wrote:kojax wrote:What's so great about international trade? Domestic trade is still economic activity, and can be expected to represent a more stable and reliable form of growth.i'm sorry but these days you just can't live as if there's no other country on earth than the USwhether you like it or not, the global village is here to stay, which means international trade or nothingIn no possible sense was I suggesting that we do that. However, in any village or ordinary people, you are allowed to act as though an individual from that village didn't exist. You only interact with the people you feel like being friends with, but of course you are in a village full of people and you can't just ignore them all. That would be metaphorically akin to moving out into the hills and living as a hermit. Some people choose that option, but I don't think they're very happy. Earth is a "village" of nations. Clearly we will do better for ourselves if we go out and make friends, and interact with the other "villagers". Just not all of them. Only the ones we want to. Now, please stop trying to take my points and turn them into bizarre extremes. I do that to myself enough, when I forgot to word some things right. If you add to the effect, then I don't know what to do. It's going to make communication very difficult.
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:56 am
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 Do you understand the concept of discriminating, or being selective about who you do and do not want to trade with openly? Closing our borders to everyone would be a waste of potential, because some of them have (and are willing to contribute) more to offer us than others. Consider China. The advantage we should be getting out of their continual and determined devaluation of the Chinese Yuan is that we ought to be able to buy up all of their infrastructure really cheap. However, China is a command economy. Their government actively bars such sales from happening. If you want to own infrastructure in China, you have to go there and build it yourself. That means the USA is getting all the liabilities and none of the benefits of trading with them at today's currency values. We'd do a lot better for ourselves if we put up a tariff, and lightly tax the imports we accept from them. Too severe a tax would make trade next to impossible - which isn't quite the goal. Leveling the playing field (even partially) should be enough, and filling the tax coffers with some much needed revenue. (That way instead of "borrow and spend" to get a stimulus going, we could "tax and spend", while leaving American incomes available for rent and healthcare. )Economics is based on mathematical logic, and that means you can't expect to benefit by going to extremes. Most math equations are balanced statements. The idea that any people in the field want to go to zero tariffs tells me they must be getting worse and worse at math.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:26 am

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 Standing firm against China to help our economic situation made sense in 2009 and early 2010, but does not any longer. The proposed benefits of doing so that you cite are quite minimal given the current situation (one that is made even worse as China's economy is quickly slowing in terms of growth in very significant ways right now), and the retaliatory response it would almost certainly engender would make our situation worse, not better... both in the short-term and the long.Anyway, a lot of this discussion is about devaluing currency and handling trade issues... The four minute video at this link from just earlier today does a fine job of elaborating on this.http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-kru ... cit-2012-7 _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
tridimity
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:10 am

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 If your friend relies in your enemy and you rely on your friend, then effectively you rely on your enwmy, whether you like it or not. _________________gone also
tridimity
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:08 am

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 One problem with extreme nationalism or autarky is that, typically, each country will have its own economic speciality. E.g. obviously some countries are abundant in particular natural resources such as oil or iron ore etc. The value of such primary resources is diminished when starved of the demand that comes from international trade. Of course this is an over-simplification, and the economies of most MEDCs are a complex and dynamic combination of secondary and tertiary sectors, but the principle still stands - different countries obviously have different things to offer to the global economy and only by working as partners can we ensure an optimal distribution of goods. To do otherwise is economic suicide, in my opinion. _________________gone also
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:07 pm
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 tridimity wrote:One problem with extreme nationalism or autarky is that, typically, each country will have its own economic speciality. E.g. obviously some countries are abundant in particular natural resources such as oil or iron ore etc. The value of such primary resources is diminished when starved of the demand that comes from international trade. Of course this is an over-simplification, and the economies of most MEDCs are a complex and dynamic combination of secondary and tertiary sectors, but the principle still stands - different countries obviously have different things to offer to the global economy and only by working as partners can we ensure an optimal distribution of goods. To do otherwise is economic suicide, in my opinion.That's why it's important not to take this to the extreme. If I say that nations need to retain the right to tariff, that's kind of like saying that a car needs to have brakes. I'm not trying to say that the car should be stopped at all times. I'm just saying it needs to be able to stop when circumstances make stopping appropriate. I agree that specialized trade can be really valuable trade. Of course, even if we're importing steel from another country, but that country also has really impoverished workers who will accept an unfair wage, and so they want to sell us cheap clothing textiles also...... we can tariff the textiles and leave the steel with no tariff. How are they going to retaliate to that? Put an excise tax on their steel to stop us from buying it?
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:08 pm
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:27 am

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 kojax wrote:it's the "when everything gets back to normal" part that kind of draws a cold chuckle here. What guarantee do we have that things ever will return to normal if we do this?None, but the lack of perfect scenarios does not mean we should remain here paralyzed sitting on our hands waiting and doing nothing. There are a number of very positive steps we can take, and the fact that each single step doesn't solve the whole problem or may result in some tiny percentage of downstream corruption is not a reason to avoid taking them. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:44 am
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 The problem is that here not "sitting on our hands" means borrowing money. If the plan doesn't work out, so we generate revenue to pay the money back, then we'll have to try something else and just be that much further in debt when we do. What I see happening, and this may not match your perspective - which I will be curious to know more about - is every time there's a government stimulus, people go out and buy a lot of consumer goods from department stores, which creates a spike in employment as those stores need to hire more people, and ship more goods around, and pay overhead costs.... etc. However, since a large portion of those goods are foreign imports, a substantial part of that money doesn't stay in the country. Each time a dollar bill cycles through the system (consumer-store-employee-consumer), a few cents go abroad each time and after a few cycles the whole dollar bill is gone. Then the store lays off those extra employees and everything goes back where it was. While we may like to hope those extra cents would spur consumption in those foreign countries, thereby opening up markets for our domestic industries to sell to, ..... you must understand that the world is a big place. That stim package either has to spur all of Planet Earth's economies, or it will do us no good. This is why Austerity is taking over. Each country that wants to use stimulus packages is realizing that its efforts are ultimately futile because it can't contain that money in-country. And no one country is big enough to stimulate the whole world. It's kind of like if your house shared its ventilation system with 195 other houses. So it's Winter, and you light a fire in your furnace. And you can't figure out why the fire isn't warming you up. Well, the reason is because the heat from that one fire is having to be shared by 196 houses. Not all of them are lighting their own fires. If all of them lit their own fires, then everyone would be warm.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:15 am

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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:52 pm
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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:15 am
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 I will try and illustrate this effect better. Old version:It's 1942. Suppose Jimbob make 1000 dollar fighting Nazis. Suppose he then spends 100% of that income, or 1000 dollars in the USA's economy. Those 1000 Dollars then become salaries for American workers. They collectively spend 1000 in the USA's economy, thereby creating incomes for another group of workers, who then spend it again in the USA's economy, thereby creating salaries that can be used to pay still another group of workers. New version:Now it's 2012. Suppose Jimbob makes 1000 dollars working on a bridge construction crew for the government (as part of a stimulus). Suppose he spends 90% of his income in the USA's economy, and 10% of it in foreign economies. The 90% or 900 dollars he spent in the USA's economy becomes salaries for other American workers. Suppose they spend 90% of their income in the USA's economy, and 10% of it in foreign economies. The now 81% or 810 dollars remaining of Jimbob's salary becomes salaries for still another set of American workers. Suppose they they spend 90% of their income in the USA's economy, and 10% of it in foreign economies. The now 72.9% or 729 dollars remaining of Jimbob's salary becomes salaries for still another set of American workers. Suppose they they spend 90% of their income in the USA's economy, and 10% of it in foreign economies. The now 65.61% or 656.1 dollars remaining of Jimbob's salary becomes salaries for still another set of American workers. etc.Do you see how the money from a stimulus can quickly dissipate? It doesn't actually matter what the exact percentage split is. Any substantial percentage of income will result in the same effect over a reasonably short length of time. As the money circulates, the benefit of the stimulus will dissipate. Foreign economies will naturally buy from us too, but their spending will not be boosted by the stimulus so it won't represent any increase over what it was before. The stimulus only affects one part of the picture/consumer base. And as you can see from the example, the effect is pretty much always going to be short lived unless the percent of workers' income that gets spent on imports is very very small.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:23 pm

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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:39 pm
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:17 pm

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 kojax wrote:It's weird to think, but the economy might almost recover more in the long run if things were to stagnate so much that they all defaulted on their loans.No, not according to this very detailed study I shared with my previous post:http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/ ... ummers.pdfkojax wrote:The question is on how much will stay in country. It might not be very much, because of it flowing essentially one way. You cannot say this in the absolute or in the abstract like you continue to do, though. What happens with stimulus money is dependent entirely on how it's designed and where outlays are directed. In much the same way that I can choose to spend my paycheck in different ways, we can design a stimulus to be spent in different ways. Despite this self-evident truth, however, you continue to suggest that it's nearly all going to flow out of the country and this serves as a foundational point to your entire position.kojax wrote:If I'm not mistaken, the idea of a stimulus is that you've got a certain amount of trade happening already, and you want to temporarily increase that trade to see if it will stay increased.That's a strange definition given everything I've read. YMMV, though.http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/eco ... imulus.aspkojax wrote:After a short time, all of the stimulus will fully redistribute. We'll keep only the same share that a communist world state would have awarded us.<...>You just have to accept that the "stimulus" model is now an old model. It doesn't work anymore. I disagree, and am baffled that you would suggest such a thing. I don't "just have to accept" anything that is so very clearly mistaken and misplaced.kojax wrote:The money we pay those workers quickly redistributes to all of our trading partners, rendering the stimulus inert.I disagree here, as well, as our economy itself is built upon interactions and distribution movements with trading partners. The stimulus helps the economy to start functioning the way it usually does. You seem to be suggesting that getting the economy to start functioning like it usually does means the steps we took to get there are rendered moot. That's a strange perspective to me, but I understand you don't agree and that's fine. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:04 pm
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 iNow wrote:kojax wrote:The question is on how much will stay in country. It might not be very much, because of it flowing essentially one way. You cannot say this in the absolute or in the abstract like you continue to do, though. What happens with stimulus money is dependent entirely on how it's designed and where outlays are directed. In much the same way that I can choose to spend my paycheck in different ways, we can design a stimulus to be spent in different ways. Despite this self-evident truth, however, you continue to suggest that it's nearly all going to flow out of the country and this serves as a foundational point to your entire position.How do you propose to control what the workers do after they have the money? At some point, most of the dollars will go through a consumer's hands, and that consumer will freely make whatever decision they want to with it. Quote:kojax wrote:After a short time, all of the stimulus will fully redistribute. We'll keep only the same share that a communist world state would have awarded us.<...>You just have to accept that the "stimulus" model is now an old model. It doesn't work anymore. I disagree, and am baffled that you would suggest such a thing. I don't "just have to accept" anything that is so very clearly mistaken and misplaced.Clearly I cannot and would not compel you, of course. I am surprised that you don't arrive at that conclusion, however. It's not that stimulus' are impossible to make workable. It's just that one country expecting to stimulate its own economy doesn't make sense if its economy is closely tied into a lot of others. Clearly you're going to be stimulating all of them. It's like if you shared your income with 195 other people. If you choose to work 10 hours of overtime, and make 50 bucks, you'll ultimately only get 1 dollar of that to yourself. Quote:kojax wrote:The money we pay those workers quickly redistributes to all of our trading partners, rendering the stimulus inert.I disagree here, as well, as our economy itself is built upon interactions and distribution movements with trading partners. The stimulus helps the economy to start functioning the way it usually does. You seem to be suggesting that getting the economy to start functioning like it usually does means the steps we took to get there are rendered moot. That's a strange perspective to me, but I understand you don't agree and that's fine.The problem is that it helps all of the economies at once. One single country is trying to pull the whole train all on its own. If we want it to really work, what we would need is a treaty of some kind, requiring all the connected economies to pitch in their share. If every country got together and ran a stimulus at the same time (or even out of sync - but they all did it), the world economy would recover just as well as it did when the USA stimulated its own economy during WW2.If half of them contribute, everyone on Earth will get half a stimulus. While that would still beneficial, and perhaps even enough to work (especially given how low interest rates are right now), you're ignoring the politics if that's the only part of the picture you see. China would very likely not contribute, which means that if Europe and the USA do a stimulus, China's position of power in the world would be greatly helped by it. I know it's petty, but most would not like to see that happen.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:33 pm

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kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:43 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:34 pm

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 kojax wrote:The problem here is that you're looking at it all as a one time transactionWait, what? After that huge long paragraph, THIS is your response to me? I fear that you're a bit off the reservation, my friend.kojax wrote:The goal of the stimulus is to create lasting, repeating transactions that will continue to happen again and again and again...... a long time after the money has stopped being injected into the system.That may be a peripheral goal, but the goal of a stimulus is simply to stimulate a stagnant economy and to jump start or "stimulate" commerce again. We've been over this more than once already, though... so, yeah.kojax wrote:The expectation that some of the increase will stay with us is what failsNo, you have yet to establish this, and I would love to see you try. The numbers are not on your side with this issue.kojax wrote:I know the economy itself isn't zero sum, but the financial aspect is. I cannot agree with this either.kojax wrote:Actually it would have been fully applicable in the 1940's.Perhaps slightly, maybe a little, but this is 2012 and the circumstances on the ground are not the same.kojax wrote:Quote:kojax wrote:The problem is that it helps all of the economies at once.But not in the same amount or with the same magnitude. This is not an either/or question, kojax. The world is not as one-dimensional as you seem to think.And this is where we disagree.We disagree in many places, that's just one more. kojax wrote:In the long run, the magnitudes ultimately become the same. In the "long-run," we're all dead. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:03 am
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iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:00 am

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 What consequences... specifically? _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
kojax
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:20 am
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 Suppose there are two villages, in a lawless place/time. One village puts all of its effort into building granaries and growing grain to fill them. The other puts all of its effort into making guns. At the end of the day, who has the most grain?Now suppose one nation puts all of its effort into growing its accumulated financial wealth, and the other focuses on growing its GDP. At the end of the day, who has the most stuff?Even though finances may not always accurately reflect the true state of an economy, just like guns, they are ultimately the way matters are decided. If China keeps accepting our USD, trading them for IOU's (saying we owe them still more USD as yet unearned), and then accepting those USD again, eventually everything we have will belong to them. We'll have a lot of stuff, and not own it. Our children will be paying down debts that didn't ultimately do anything for them, just perpetuated a cycle of continually more lost ownership. The very fact you would say this:iNow wrote:kojax wrote:In the long run, the magnitudes ultimately become the same. In the "long-run," we're all dead.Shows what your bias is. It's clear that you're only interested in the specific slice of the economy that affects you personally. Future generations can just fend for themselves, right? (While sorting out the mess after you're no longer around). In that light it makes so much more sense for you to be determined to convince people to take out more debt so they can hire your company to ship more merchandise for them. Whether it be a bad or a good idea, your company will still earn commissions. (Indeed, they will earn exactly the same amount of money if it's a bad choice as if it's a good choice. A commission is a commission.)I'm hoping it's not as simple as that, but the pattern is kind of hard to dismiss. I'm not fond of ad-hominem arguments, but the prospect of personal gain can be a powerful motivator against objectivity. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but some of the various import-export companies of the USA (especially oil importers) have been getting pretty phat profits over the last decade.However, also I'd like to point out that probably your skillset would be valuable in other industries that would grow after the shipping industry declines. There's no need to doggedly support them. (If that's what's driving this.... if it's sincere belief, then I'm sorry for questioning you so.)
iNow
 Post subject: Re: Tariffs vs. Currency Exchange Rates - what's the differe  |  Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:04 pm

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