Monday, June 13, 2016

My letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer in defense of Brexit

Dear Sirs:
Trudy Rubin claims that "Brexit would be a huge step backward", but she never explains why. Oh, she does correlate the growth of the EU regulatory state with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but this is not cause-and-effect. The Soviet Union collapsed because NATO stood guard over the Western democracies until the internal cancer of communism had destroyed the Russian economy. Even Ms. Rubin admits that Europeans resent its (the EU's) massive bureaucracy, myriad regulations, financial disasters, and open border policies. Furthermore, she admits that Brexit probably would lead to the dismantling of the EU. Is this not democracy in action? The Europeans, of all people, understand the dangers of large, undemocratic, centralized, bureaucratic states, of which the EU is just the latest incarnation.

Patrick Barron

Friday, June 10, 2016

Puerto Rico needs better advisors

Re: House passes bill to restructure Puerto Rico's $70 billion debt

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to appoint a special commission to restructure and renegotiate Puerto Rico's unsustainable debt. The hubris of Congress that it and its appointed commissioners have superior knowledge regarding public finance is farcical. It is widely reported that Puerto Rico's debt is $70 billion. With a population of 3.7 million, Puerto Rico's per capital debt is around $19,000. US debt is widely reported to be $10 trillion. With a population of around 300 million, US per capita debt is around $33,000. I suggest that Puerto Rico hire better advisors, preferably German, since Germany is running a balanced budget.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trade negotiations are not necessary

From today's Open Europe news summary:

WTO chief warns of “complex and drawn-out” trade negotiations after Brexit

Roberto Azev√™do, Director-General of the WTO, has warned that it could take Britain decades to disentangle its trading relations with the EU and negotiate new ties with the rest of the world after Brexit. He told The Times, “It seems that there is a great deal of confusion about the trade implications of a British exit from the EU. I think it’s important to provide the facts. The likelihood is that a British exit would lead to a sequence of complex negotiations – with the EU itself, with the 58 countries that have trade agreements with the EU, and also with all the other members of the WTO. These negotiations would be complex and drawn-out.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that leaving the EU would cause an immediate shock, then uncertainty, and negatively impact trade. Boris Johnson said the risks of remaining in the EU are “massive”, due to the Eurozone and migrant crises.
No so-called trade negotiations are needed. The idea that a nation must seek the approval and reciprocity in order to lower or completely eliminate barriers to trade is one of the most persistent myths in all of economics. It is akin to believing that one cannot start a diet until everyone else starts a diet. Lowering barriers to trade does not require the cooperation of any other nation. All a nation has to do is unilaterally eliminate all barriers to foreign products. Such an action will lower the cost of living for the citizens of the importing country. Of course, these imports will be paid with currency of the importing country. And what is the exporting country to do with this currency? It has a choice. It can spend the currency on imports from the country that issued the currency . It can invest in the country that issued the currency. Or it can hold the currency as foreign reserves, to be spent later. Now, how is any of this a problem for the country that eliminated barriers to trade?
Scrap all the trade agreements currently in force. Send the trade negotiators home. Declare unilateral free trade. This is the path to peace and prosperity.