EP 394 Trade is Not a Four Letter Word

The concept of free trade has gotten a bad name over the recent period as the current occupant of the White House has harpooned recent trade deals made by the United States as stupid and detrimental to the economic fortunes of the country. How can this be so when America wrote a lot of the rules for trade and designed organizations, like the World Trade Organization, establishing the world’s trading framework?  Fred Hochberg, who was the chairman and president of the  Export-Import Bank of the United States for eight years, disputes the many myths, as he sees it, about the issue of trade, thus the title of his new book and this podcast.  He makes some compelling arguments demonstrating the interconnectedness of world commerce and how it has afforded America the opportunity to export high value services, like banking, insurance and technology, in lieu of some of the lower end physical goods that were once made here.  While acknowledging the dislocation that this has wrought in much of America’s heartland, and the important political constituencies impacted, he maintains that overall we have been able to maintain economic dominance in the world while sharing product development and manufacturing with other countries in a new blend.  He points to six particular products as examples and we discuss, in specific, the Honda Odyssey and the taco salad.  We get his views on NAFTA and the successor, USMCA deal, and include China and its trade practices in our conversation.  We also discuss what globalization looks like in(hopefully soon)a post COVID-19 world.