Adam Davidson Turns Mercantilist
By David Henderson
The currency intervention also functions as a massive inequality-creation machine. U.S.-based behemoths, which own or use many of those exporting Chinese factories, benefit, as do their shareholders. And because more than 90 percent of U. S. stocks are owned by the wealthiest 20 percent, the spoils are disproportionately concentrated at the top. Meanwhile, lower wages, lost jobs and crippled manufacturing employment fall on the less wealthy. The economists that I spoke to estimated that China’s currency policy has cost the U.S. between 200,000 and 3 million jobs. Of course, the wide range suggests that these are little more than educated guesses. But a broad picture does emerge. U.S. manufacturing employment has fallen by around 6 million over the last decade. If China had allowed its currency to adjust naturally, life might be much better for many former American factory workers.
This is from Adam Davidson, “Come on, China, Buy Our Stuff!,” New York Times Magazine, January 25, 2012.
Do you notice a little benefit that Davidson left out of his purported cost-benefit analysis? Davidson understands that if the Chinese government keeps its currency artificially low, that makes its exports artificially low-priced. He also understands that we import a lot from China. So the question: who benefits from those exports from China? He mentions one set of beneficiaries: owners of corporations. Let’s see. There are gains from exchange. Hmmm. Who else is he leaving out?