Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Arancha González Laya distinguishes between international trade and corporatism - arguing that we should be looking to ensure people benefit from the former by reining in the latter:
Making trade more inclusive requires action on three broad policy fronts: trade rules, domestic social protection, and international cooperation to complement the first two.

1. Negotiate trade agreements that work for most people

Governments should concentrate political capital on issues in trade negotiations that deliver broad-based benefits. Improving purchasing power is one key. Another lies in greater participation by small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for the majority of firms and jobs in any economy. Reducing fixed costs related to trade – from complex border procedures to the regulatory burden arising from product standards and other non-tariff measures – would yield disproportionate gains for smaller firms. Done right, it would not undermine product quality or consumer health and safety protections. All countries, not just developing economies, may need to make more investments on the supply side to help smaller businesses connect to world markets.

2. Domestic social policy to help those displaced by imports and machines

To address the disruptions and the distributional effects of trade and technology, governments need to respond across the board with investments in human capital, education, skills and vocational training to better match people with job opportunities. Active labour market policies will need to be coupled with measures to soften the blow of under- or unemployment, from higher minimum wages and wage top-ups to universal basic incomes. Redistributive policy is not solely an issue for advanced economies. As Martin Ravallion has shown, for all of the progress in reducing extreme poverty, the biggest income gains in developing countries have gone to the better off. Unless governments act effectively to expand opportunities for all, they too may eventually face a backlash of frustrated ambitions.

3. Cooperate internationally to support the first two objectives

Neither of these agendas will be cheap. Cooperation to curb corporate tax avoidance is one example of how governments could usefully work together at the international level to raise the revenue they need to keep citizens on board with globalization. Global companies with a long-term view should support this agenda.

Essential in all of this will be political honesty. While reviving growth would do much to ease economic angst, shoring up the fragile social license on which open markets rest requires government and business leaders to be up front with people. Trade, like technology, is good for most of us, but not everyone. More market opening needs to come with more redistributive social policy. That has a cost. And if anyone thinks it’s not worth paying – consider the costs of a backlash.
- Lana Payne discusses how greater gender equality at work and elsewhere would represent a major economic boon. And Jerry Dias criticizes Brian Pallister's Manitoba PCs for engaging in the latest round of gratuitous legislative attacks on union organizing.

- Michael Mann and Susan Joy Hassol note that most of the supposed goals of even the likes of Donald Trump are best served by a concerted push against climate change, while Kai Nagata suggests that the election of another major national leader who will serve as an obstacle to climate progress should push us to work on protecting the environment at the local level. And Andrew Nikiforuk highlights how Christy Clark's B.C. Libs are positively Trumpesque in their use of public money to back dirty fossil fuel development. 

- Finally, Laura Stone exposes how the RCMP decided to give Nigel Wright a free pass on potential corruption charges in the hope that it would better serve the cause of security convictions against Mike Duffy - which looks particularly dubious since the absence of any charges against any "bribers" managed to serve as a point in Duffy's successful defence.

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