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Peterson Perspectives: Interviews on Current Issues

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United States








Trade Talks Episode 66: Paul Krugman Talks Trade

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown sit down with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman (CUNY and New York Times) in a wide-ranging interview about international trade. They discuss NAFTA, labor standards, and the USMCA (2:25); the current toxicity of trade politics (8:00); the wonky economics of comparative advantage versus increasing returns to scale trade (16:55); when and why the trade world changed (21:30); trade’s impact on US wage inequality (25:10); more wonky economics of strategic...


Trade Talks Episode 65: What Would a Trump-China Deal Look Like?

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown explain the recent 90-day agreement between Presidents Trump and Xi that puts on hold further tariff escalation between the United States and China. They speak with Mark Wu (Harvard Law) and former Obama administration official Caroline Atkinson about the complexities of negotiating with China over intellectual property enforcement, cyber theft, and the forced transfer of technology arising through joint ventures.


Trade Talks Episode 64: (Trade) Dealing with Europe

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown speak with veteran trade journalist Alan Beattie (Financial Times) about the complexities of negotiating with the European Union on trade. They discuss the European Union’s dealings with the United Kingdom over Brexit and the Irish border, as well as how it has negotiated with other countries over regulatory differences, mutual recognition agreements, digital trade, and more.


Trade Talks Episode 63: Can Trump and the EU Strike a Deal?

Keynes and Bown discuss the prospect of negotiations between the United States and the European Union on a trade deal that would meet President Trump’s objectives of zero tariffs, zero nontariff barriers, and zero subsidies. They speak with Arancha Gonzalez (International Trade Centre) about the two partners’ long history of trade frictions, previous negotiating starts-and-stops, and prospects for a bilateral deal this time around.


Trade Talks Episode 62: Randomized Trade

Keynes and Bown speak with Amit Khandelwal (Columbia Business School) about the impact that exporting has on firm productivity. They discuss his evidence from a randomized control trial that new foreign market access improved how Egyptian firms make and sell rugs and generated learning by exporting.


Link to Podcast

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown speak with incoming World Bank Chief Economist Penny Goldberg (Yale University) about her research on how trade liberalization affects consumers and firms when firms have market power. They discuss the impact that India’s early 1990s tariff cuts—to both outputs and imported inputs—had on the profits and markups of domestic firms and the puzzle behind why consumer prices fell relatively little.


Trade Talks Episode 60: America May Be Doing Away with WTO Dispute Settlement

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown talk with former WTO Appellate Body member Jennifer Hillman about WTO dispute settlement. They describe the procedural, philosophical, and judicial complaints the United States has with the current way of addressing trade frictions, potential solutions to those problems, and how the American refusal to appoint new Appellate Body members could soon destroy the functionality of the entire multilateral system of enforcement.


Trade Talks Episode 59: A Hard Border from History

Keynes and Bown talk with Stephen Redding (Princeton University) about his research on the border between East and West Germany erected in the mid-20th century. They discuss the loss of market access for cities near the border, and how being cut off from one's neighbors affected the local economy. Spoiler: It wasn't pretty.


Trade Talks Episode 58: Woodward. Trump. Fear. Trade Is Bad.

Keynes and Bown talk about trade with best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Bob Woodward about his latest book "Fear: Trump in the White House." Woodward's reporting sheds light on the White House's lurching policies, with telling anecdotes about snatching trade agreement withdrawal letters off the president's desk and impromptu Oval Office meetings with steel company CEOs.


Trade Talks Episode 57: It's Fun to Discuss the USMCA--the New NAFTA

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown describe key elements of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, or USMCA, announced on October 1, 2018. Beneath the spin, they analyze what the deal really does, including where new market access has been granted, and where new rules have been written. Will the new deal generate American jobs in car manufacturing? Will it strengthen Mexico's labor standards? Will it stop Canada from signing a future trade deal with China?


Trade Talks Episode 56: Do You Like Trade? Tariffs? Trade Deals? China?

Keynes and Bown speak with Bruce Stokes (Pew Research Center) about recent poll results on public attitudes toward trade. They discuss how Americans feel about trade and trade agreements, China, differences between self-identified Democrats and Republicans, as well as attitudes in other countries toward the United States.


Trade Talks Episode 55: Is India a Trade Troublemaker?

Keynes and Bown speak with Arvind Subramanian (PIIE, Harvard Kennedy School) about the massive changes in India’s trade policy since the 1980s. They examine the scope and impact of India’s trade liberalization; the importance of its manufacturing, agriculture, and services trade; its controversies within the WTO, and its own complex relationship with China. They also discuss Arvind’s time as chief economic adviser to the government of India and some of the challenges now confronting the...


Trade Talks Episode 54: Can Trump Withdraw from Trade Deals?

Keynes and Bown examine the legal arguments surrounding President Trump’s threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization. They speak with legal experts Gary Hufbauer (PIIE), Rachel Brewster (Duke Law School), and Joel Trachtman (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) about what constitutional arguments and legal precedent might—and might not—constrain a president from taking such an action without the approval of Congress.


Trade Talks Episode 53: Oh NAFTA—It’s Canada’s Turn

Keynes and Bown examine Canada's talks with the Trump administration over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. They speak with Meredith Lilly (Carleton University) and Madelaine Drohan (The Economist) about Canada's dairy supply management system, cultural exemptions, intellectual property for biologics, dispute resolution, and diversifying exports to lessen dependence on an unreliable US market.


Trade Talks Episode 52: NAFTA "Deal Fever"

Keynes and Bown examine the still murky details on autos and a potential sunset clause for the Mexico–United States trade agreement—which the Trump administration says is designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). They also discuss what’s next for the negotiations with Canada as well as how economists would evaluate whether any final deal is actually a good one.


Trade Talks Episode 51: Trade at the White House in Not So Normal Times

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown have a conversation with Jason Furman (PIIE, Harvard Kennedy School)—a former senior economic adviser of the Obama administration—about American economic policy. They ask Furman about economic and trade policy during the Great Recession, supporting displaced workers, US trade policy toward China, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and President Trump’s approach.


Trade Talks Episode 50: Aluminum Made in the USA

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown explore the aluminum industry: how to make it, changes in North American production over the past few decades, and the industry's real complaints. They discuss the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported aluminum with Heidi Brock of the American Aluminum Association, and Delphine Dahan-Kocher of Constellium.


Trade Talks Episode 49: Are Trump's Steel Quotas Worse than His Steel Tariffs?

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown describe how the Trump administration’s quotas imposed on steel imports from South Korea, Brazil, and Argentina are different from the simple application of tariffs. They speak with Ambassador Jennifer Hillman—former administrator of US quotas for textiles and apparel in the 1990s—and Aaron Padilla (American Petroleum Institute) to explain the structure of Trump’s quotas, the perverse economic incentives and unintended consequences they create, and the new...


Trade Talks Episode 48: Trump Buys the Farmers

Soumaya Keynes and Chad Bown explain the US government decision to offer up to $12 billion of subsidies to farmers adversely affected by trade retaliation stemming from President Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum, and China. They speak with Joe Glauber (IFPRI, former USDA) about US farm subsidies past and present, including the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act, as well as America’s legal commitments under the WTO to limit agricultural payouts.


Trade Talks Episode 47: WTO S.O.S.—Save our System

Keynes and Bown detail an emerging approach for the European Union, Japan, China—and the Trump administration—to resolve the conflict over subsidies, one of the most pressing challenges confronting the World Trade Organization. They explain the fight over industrial subsidies and analyze the EU-Japan-US approach to tackling problems of notifications, state-owned enterprises, excess capacity, and public bodies.