Da Nang, VietNam – the Golden Bridge


Click to enlargeBored Panda

❝ A new bridge that’s opened outside of Da Nang, Vietnam — aptly named the “Golden Bridge” — has quickly staked its claim to being one of the most stunning bridges on Earth.

❝ The Golden Bridge, which sits about 4,600 feet above sea level in the Bà Nà hills, is designed to look like it’s being held up by two massive stone hands.

The golden walkway supported by the hands extends on a curve that stretches nearly 500 feet long and is lined with purple lobelia chrysanthemums while offering stunning views of the Vietnamese countryside below…

❝ A 2017 report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranked Vietnam’s tourism growth seventh globally, and Vietnam was the only country in Southeast Asia to reach the top ten on that list.

When I started blogging several years ago, my boss was/is a tech journalist with a global reputation. Since I was already retired, I asked him where in the world did he think was the best place to live as a retiree, fixed income, the usual American constraints. One answer. VietNam.

I haven’t moved; but, if I did, it is likely I’d check out his suggestion. Especially somewhere in the vicinity of Da Nang. In addition to the tourism plans noted in this article, business growth should be phenomenal over the next decade. You see, Da Nang will be a dual interchange in China’s ONE BELT, ONE ROAD blueprint for global trade. Both a seaport link and a rail link.

Trump fiddles while China leads World Trade Recovery

Bloomberg’s Tom Keene displays the performance of the renminbi against the U.S. dollar in 2017. He speaks with Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Often appearing on Bloomberg TV, Dr. Weinberg is one of several economists who wastes no time on the ideological blather coming out of the Washington Beltway. Regardless of which of the two Tweedledee/Tweedledumb parties we’re allowed – is in power.

I think if you asked the average American college graduate about the Silk Road or the Silk Route – you’d get a profound silence. Listen to what Dr. Weinberg says in passing about the increase in trade this year. Understand that this is a startup barely in its beginning. Understand that regardless of Trump’s compounded ignorance and lies, the United States isn’t China’s biggest customer and consumer of goods exports. The European Union is. And they don’t consider his whines and wailing important enough to be anything more than a footnote to American electoral gullibility.

The Europeans, workers and investors alike do not suffer the disparity in income and distribution we have in the United States. Europeans get income – not fear and trembling – from global trade. Their trade with China is leading to greatly expanded trade for all the Euro nations with all the nations in between China’s hubs and the industrial centers of the European Union.

Fake President costing the United States the position of Global Trade Leader


Click to enlarge

The world will not wait while the United States figures out what it’s doing with trade.

The beginnings of new bilateral trade agreements are springing up left and right between countries that may never have otherwise given each other a second look. And as a result, the United States’ role as a framer of global trade rules may be slipping from its grasp as Europe and China look to step in…

❝ Between last January and now, 27 agreements have been signed—China and Australia, Turkey and Malaysia, EU with Colombia and Peru, the EU and Ghana, India and Thailand—and none of them are with the U.S.

Seems to me I recall the Republican Party claiming they advance the interests of American business. They said that always trickled down to American families. That last clause is mostly bullcrap; but, since they can’t even achieve the first part nowadays – the claim is moot.

The biggest global trade deal ever is now ratified. Think anyone in the Trump White House noticed?


Roberto AzevadoReuters

❝ An international agreement forecast to boost global trade by $1 trillion a year has come into force.

The Director General of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, called it “the biggest reform of global trade in a generation”

Mr Azevedo said it would have a bigger impact than eliminating all existing taxes on imports, known as tariffs.

❝ It involves countries signing up to a long list of reforms, including easier access for businesses to information, reduced fees and simpler and faster procedures.

WTO economists estimated it would cut the cost of trading by 14.3%, and that developing nations would gain the most.

❝ TFA is one of the few successes of a much wider set of negotiations that were launched in late 2001 in the Qatari capital and known as the Doha Round…

The TFA was finally agreed at a meeting in Bali 2013, but could not come into force until 110 countries had ratified it. That is what has now happened…

BTW, the United States ratified this Trade Agreement in January, 2015.

NAFTA, global trade deals, aren’t what killed American manufacturing jobs

❝ Politically speaking, there was no debate on United States international trade agreements in 2016: All politicians seeking to win a national election, or even to create a party-spanning political coalition, agree that our trade agreements are bad things.

❝ From the left, we had Democratic presidential primary runner-up Bernie Sanders — and a remarkably close runner-up he was — slamming trade. From the — I do not think it’s wrong but it’s not quite correct to call it “right,” at least not as Americans have hitherto understood what “right” is — but from somewhere, we had now-President Donald Trump. Listen to them: The rhetoric is the same.

❝ And what did we hear from the center establishment? We had…Hillary Rodham Clinton: “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president…”…

❝ The political truthiness has been flying thick and fast on this subject for decades now. Politicians are taking claims that have a very tenuous connection to economic reality — claims that feel true — and running with them, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because of cynical calculation…

❝ Yes, America has been losing manufacturing job share at a furious rate. Yes, the spread between the incomes of the non-college-educated and the college-educated has widened massively. Yes, the spread between the incomes of even the college-educated and our overclass has exploded.

But this is not due to NAFTA. This is not due to bringing China into the WTO rather than keeping it out. This is not due to the not-yet-completed — and now never-to-be-completed — TPP…

❝ To defend trade deals is not to say that US economic policy has been without fault

To be clear, I do think American international economic policy has been far, far from perfect. I could rant with the best of them about our failure to be a capital-exporting nation financing the industrialization of the world, a role from which we would ultimately benefit both economically and politically. I can rant about our reluctance to properly incentivize the creation and maintenance of the global treasures that are our communities of engineering practice…

❝ But the never-to-be-implemented TPP? NAFTA? And China-WTO? They are not big parts of any picture. They are not a big part of the long-run decline in the manufacturing job share. Indeed, they barely register among the flaws in US international economic policy.

By and large, the jobs that we shed as a result of NAFTA and China-WTO were low-paying jobs that we did not really want. Because of NAFTA and China-WTO, we have been able to buy a lot of good stuff much cheaper — which means we have had more income to spend on other things and to pay people to do other, more useful things than work on low-productivity blue-collar assembly lines.

❝ The elephant in the room is the collapse over the past three generations of the manufacturing employment share here in America.

A manufacturing job making things in a factory is no longer, in any sense, a typical job for Americans. A sector of the economy that provided three out of 10 nonfarm jobs at the start of the 1950s and one in four nonfarm jobs at the start of the 1970s now provides fewer than one in 11 nonfarm jobs today. Proportionally, the United States has shed almost two-thirds of relative manufacturing employment since 1971…

RTFA. Please. It’s long and detailed in premises and proofs. That doesn’t make economics or thoroughgoing history more enjoyable; but, it surely helps with understanding.

❝ But — as professor DeLong concludes — even here in America, you can, as you definitely can elsewhere, mobilize a great deal of populist energy by identifying foreigners as the enemy. I do not think this is an impulse that it is healthy for any part of this country. I do not think this is something any political movement that seeks to do anything other than destroy can dare to encourage…The economic case against the two agreements that passed, and the one that did not, doesn’t hold water. It’s clear, however, that candidates can make an effective political case against trade agreements — and that scares me.

Global trade to gain speed in 2014 and 2015

containers offloading in Qingdao, Shandong province
Trucks carry containers unloaded from ship in Qingdao, China’s Shandong province

The growth of global commerce will pick up speed this year and next, says the World Trade Organization…Trade will grow by a “modest” 4.7% this year and by 5.3% in 2015, says the WTO.

Next year’s figure, if correct, would be in line with the average growth rate in world trade over the last 20 years…These forecasts are consistent with other figures that show the world economy is gradually recovering from the financial crisis…

The overall impact is that global trade is above its pre-crisis level, but well below where it would have been, had it grown in line with the earlier pre-crisis trend…In fact, that gap is still getting wider and by next year will, on the new forecasts, be 19%.

So the analysis by the WTO does suggest progress…But if world trade and its growth before 2008 was in some sense normal, we are still not back there…

“In addition to creating a permanent shift downward in the level of trade,” said the WTO in a press release…”The global recession of 2008-09 may have reduced its average growth rate as well.”

The agency’s director general, Roberto Azevedo, said that just waiting for an automatic increase in trade was not enough…He called for new trade liberalisation agreements, in particular the negotiations known as the Doha Round…”Concluding the Doha Round would provide a strong foundation for trade in the future, and a powerful stimulus in today’s slow growth environment.”

The new WTO figures confirm that China is now the biggest goods trader in the world…Adding together exports and imports, China leads the United States, which is itself still the biggest trader in commercial services…However, the picture is different if the European Union is treated as a single unit, counting the trade of EU member states with outside nations and excluding commerce within the Union.

On that basis, the EU is the world’s biggest trader.

A significant portion of the whole equation is foreign direct investment, one of those economically rich processes that typically provides jobs and trade at both ends of such agreements. As long as Congressional Republicans control regulations governing FDI, the United States doesn’t stand a chance of improving trade.

Tea Party Confederates and the rest of the Republican Party have done everything they can to sabotage foreign direct investment from China in the United States. Between their Cold War mentality and fear-based ideology leftover from the Bush-Cheney years, FDI from China last year was less than 1% of the total.

Logic makes it clear to the Chinese their investment plans are better served within the European Union and in bilateral agreements with developing nations. That is where they are going to send their money. Americans who want jobs had better start asking questions of the isolationist patriots in Congress who believe their only mandate is to protect the likes of General Electric and the Koch Brothers.

China becomes the world’s biggest trading nation

China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports, a milestone in the Asian nation’s challenge to the U.S. dominance in global commerce that emerged after the end of World War II in 1945.

U.S. exports and imports last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s total trade in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion. China had a $231.1 billion annual trade surplus while the U.S. had a trade deficit of $727.9 billion.

China’s emergence as the biggest global trading nation gives it increasing influence, threatening to disrupt regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for countries including Germany, which will export twice as much to China by the end of the decade as it does to neighboring France, said Goldman Sachs Group’s Jim O’Neill.

“For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner,” O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s asset management division and the economist who bound Brazil to Russia, India and China to form the BRIC investing strategy, said in a telephone interview. “At this kind of pace by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe.”

Still, the U.S. economy is more than double the size of China’s, according to the World Bank. In 2011, the U.S. gross domestic product reached $15 trillion while China’s totaled $7.3 trillion.

“It is remarkable that an economy that is only a fraction of the size of the U.S. economy has a larger trading volume,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in an e-mail. “The surpassing of the U.S. is not because of a substantially undervalued currency that has led to an export boom,” said Lardy, noting that Chinese imports have grown more rapidly than exports since 2007…

Of course, the typical American politician – whether he knows the facts or not – will still try to trade xenophobia for votes.

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CEOs say their businesses will grow over the next year

CEO confidence is up even amidst talk of a double dip recession, according to the Vistage CEO Confidence Index 2nd quarter results. While CEOs of small to medium sized businesses have lowered their expectations for the pace of growth in the overall economy, they remain confident that, over the next twelve months, they will increase revenues and profits, as well as hire new employees.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, CEO confidence indexed at 48.7 – an all-time low since the survey began in 2003. According to University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Curtin, who has directed the survey since its inception, CEO confidence rose to 94.4 this quarter, marking the sixth consecutive quarterly increase.

According to Vistage International Chairman and CEO Rafael Pastor, the Q2 results are particularly significant, “CEOs of small to medium size companies have adjusted to the lean economy, are doing more with less, and have positioned their companies for success. Their continued confidence sends a strong message that small and medium sized businesses will be among those who will lead our overall economic recovery.”

Other highlights of the survey of more than 1,600 CEOs of small to medium sized businesses, all of whom are members of Vistage International include:

Planned declines in employment fell to just 9% in the 2nd quarter of 2010, the lowest level in three years. Plans to expand their workforce were reported by 44% of all CEO’s in the 2nd quarter survey, unchanged from the prior quarter…

Small Business in China. Nearly 25% of the CEOs surveyed say they are or will be doing business in China, a remarkable percentage of SMBs.

Small to medium businesses are generally considered to drive about 75% of the U.S. economy. I happened to see Rafael Pastor on TV, this afternoon, answering questions about this survey. It got pretty funny – since the Wall Street analyst doing the interviewing was obviously trying to get dour analysis from a guy who was pretty stoked about the optimism reflected in the quarterly study.

Pass “Buy U.S.” laws? Other countries pass “Don’t Buy U.S.” laws

In response to the ‘Buy American’ provisions of the U.S. stimulus package, Canada’s mayors have narrowly passed a resolution that could potentially block U.S. companies from bidding on city contracts.

The resolution was passed at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Whistler, B.C., by a vote of 189-175.

The resolution says the federation should support cities that adopt policies that allow them to buy only from companies whose home countries do not impose trade restrictions against Canadian goods.

“Today, Canada’s cities and communities joined the federal and provincial governments in a common front to try and stop American protectionism,” Jean Perrault, FCM president and mayor of Sherbrooke, Que..

“We stand united in the belief that fair trade and an even playing field are in the best interest of our country, our communities and our citizens…”

The resolution was initiated by the Ontario community of Halton Hills, where two local companies have lost contracts they previously had in the U.S.

Of course. This is what trade wars and protectionism always are about. Opportunist politicians trying to ingratiate themselves with populist slogans.

There is a special attitude in the United States about all of this. Since we’re the rulers of Earth, we should make all the rules.