12 July 2018   Leave a comment

Visual Capitalist is a website that does an incredible job of creating graphics that compress tremendous amounts of information in easily comprehensible terms.  It has produced a graphic that shows the relative weight of the largest trade importers in the world.   There is little doubt that the US has a balance of trade deficit, but the real question is why do Americans buy so much stuff from others.  Most other countries have substantially smaller deficits.  Moreover, the US Treasury Department has suffered a serious outflow of staffers in its critically important international affairs office, an outflow similar to the departures of key State Department personnel.  More than 20 professional staffers have left the unit even as the US has increased its activity in international trade.  According to Bloomberg:

“About 20 career staff have quit the U.S. Treasury Department’s international affairs unit in less than a year, draining resources from a key office in the Trump administration’s escalating trade battles with China and Europe.

“The wave of departures began in September, shortly after David Malpass — a champion of President Donald Trump’s protectionist message — took over the division. The unit employed about 200 people at the end of the Barack Obama administration.
“Some of the former officials decided they couldn’t support the administration’s trade policies; others chafed at Malpass himself, whom they’ve described as disdainful of some civil servants and often unprepared, according to six people familiar with the matter.
The Unit includes the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) which oversees foreign investments in the US and whether they affect the national security of the country.  The CFIUS is an important tool in President Trump’s policy of limiting Chinese investment in high technology in the US.  Losing key personnel makes the policy highly problematic, but the Chinese have already dropped their investments in the US as a preemptive move against further restrictions.

Visualizing the World's Largest Importers in 2017                                        


The US-North Korean relationship defies comprehension.  North Korean leader sent a very nice note to US President Trump, dated 6 July, that said “I firmly believe that the strong will, sincere efforts and unique approach of myself and Your Excellency Mr. president aimed at opening up a new future between the DPRK and the U.S. will surely come to fruition.”  On the other hand, US Secretary of State Pompeo went to North Korea expecting to talk with Kim who did not show up and instead visited a potato farm.  Furthermore, US officials were at the Demilitarized Zone last Thursday to meet with North Korean officials to discuss the returns of American servicemen who died in the Korean War, but the North Koreans never showed up.  It is hard to interpret these actions as anything other than a dismissal of US overtures on the subject of denuclearization.  It is hard not to conclude that the US is getting played by Kim Jong-un–President Trump apparently believes anyone who calls him “Your Excellency”.



Posted July 12, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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