Donald Trump

Trump Wants to Win at Trade. He's Missing the Point.

The ultimatum game, the double thank-you, and the politics of global commerce

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Donald Trump is screwing up the ultimatum game.

The classic psychology experiment works like this: One player is given some amount of money, say $20, and told to divide it between herself and another player however she pleases. The second player can accept or reject the offer. If he agrees, both players keep the money. If he declines, both players walk away empty-handed. In theory, the second player should accept any offer. After all, something is better than nothing.

But that's not what people do. When offered less than 30 percent of the total, peeved second players consistently turn it down. Tweaking the terms can change the outcome on the margins, but not the underlying fact that even when people are getting something for nothing, they're willing to sabotage their own material gain to make sure the person who offered them a bad deal loses too. This is, alas, the secret to understanding international trade policy.

In July, President Trump laid out his plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a set of rules governing commerce between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that he has called "the worst trade deal maybe ever." The tariff- and bureaucracy-reducing arrangement, which was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, has been a political ping pong ball ever since. White House hopefuls like to talk smack about it during their now-mandatory factory-floor campaign speeches, which generally demean the quality of goods manufactured abroad, lament the loss of certain blue-collar jobs, and bemoan the existence of trade deficits—where imports outweigh exports—as the root of these evils.

More than 20 years after its implementation, NAFTA has tripled the United States' cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico, an increase that significantly outpaces the growth in U.S. trade with the rest of the world. But the U.S. did have a $63 billion trade deficit with Mexico last year, compared with a $1.7 billion surplus in 1993. Is that a sign that America got a bad deal? Donald Trump thinks so.

The same sentiment was on display in his recent partial reversal of President Barack Obama's opening up of relations with Cuba. "Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba," the president said in June. (For more on that, flip to "Whiplash and Backlash in the Republic of Cuba" on page 28.)

Donald Trump isn't anti-trade, unlike some of his unlikely lefty bedfellows. He's pumped, for instance, about the prospect of helping Make Britain Great Again with a "big and exciting" trade deal. But for Trump, the presence of trade deficits—especially with China, but with Japan and Germany as well—are a dead giveaway that something is rotten.

As a side note, the president seems a little unclear on the distinction between trade deficits and budget deficits: In a June meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, he said: "The United States has trade deficits…with South Korea right now, but we cannot allow that to continue. This is really a statement that I make about all trade: For many, many years the United States has suffered through massive trade deficits; that's why we have $20 trillion in debt."

In an August interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump justified his plans to further limit imports from Europe by describing the E.U. as "very, very protectionist" and "very unfair."

His way of talking about trade, as a series of good deals or bad deals, misses the genius of the idea of swapping stuff in a market. The other guy being happy—smug, even—after a commercial transaction is not a sign that something went wrong for you. When I sold my 8-year-old television on Craigslist after it started spontaneously turning itself off, the guy who bought it definitely thought I was an idiot for not knowing how to fix this technical glitch, and I thought he was a sucker to have paid me for the privilege of hauling away my garbage.

American-style capitalism is built on the double thank-you. When you trade with someone, you thank each other at the end of the transaction, because you've both gotten something you wanted. Trump, meanwhile, is the second player in the psychology experiment, willing to throw free money back in the face of people who don't treat America fairly.

At the end of July, Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company that assembles iPhones in Chinese factories, announced plans to open a new production facility in Wisconsin. Given that Steve Jobs was openly contemptuous of the idea that his products would ever be made in America, this is indeed a surprise. In fact, it's a response to a combination of threats and bribery: The plant is a boondoggle, designed to suck $3 billion in cash and favors out of taxpayers. But more vitally, it's insurance against the great political risk introduced by a president who thinks nothing of making policy on Twitter, and who holds as one of his core tenets that buying too much stuff made in other countries is a sign of weakness.

In August, the president signed the House- and Senate-passed Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which will dramatically curtail trade with Iran, North Korea, and Russia. His formal signing statement closed with a particularly confusing threat/brag: "I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."

The ultimatum game is a hoary classic in experimental psych by now. Many versions of it have been tried. People demand and receive more balanced offers from people they perceive to be a part of their tribe or in-group, for instance. Increasing players' empathy—by having them imagine themselves in the position of the other player, or simply by pumping them full of oxytocin—also boosts the chance that an offer will be accepted. When chimps play the game with other chimps, they behave similarly to human beings, but will accept even low offers when they are tendered by a machine. When people play the game for higher stakes—two weeks' salary in Indonesia; nearly a year's salary in India—they are more likely to accept inequitable offers.

That last bit may be good news for America's trade policy. Even if Trump offers a trading partner a deal that tips strongly in the United States' favor, the other country might take it because the stakes are so incredibly high.

Donald Trump is far from alone in his disgust for bad deals. This deeply embedded trait is the reason we have the World Trade Organization (WTO), to help settle disputes and to nudge nations toward actually doing a deal in the first place instead of walking away.

More to the point, this impulse is the reason we have trade agreements at all. We're so afraid of getting screwed that we're constantly leaving money on the table, so we tangle ourselves up in formalities to minimize the temptation to give in to our base instincts.

But the rational reaction is the right one: Any deal is a good deal. Engagement is better than non-engagement. Opening up trade sometimes means accepting the one-penny offer from a $20 country. That's a tough sell for politicians with a zero-sum mindset, because it doesn't feel like winning. But it's one of the most unambiguously powerful ways to make America more prosperous. If the rest of the world gets richer too, that doesn't mean we got a bad deal.

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  1. But the rational reaction is the right one: Any deal is a good deal.

    Anybody arguing this has no clue what they’re talking about.

    1. Remember that Trumpistas, like the good little Marxists that they are, believe that trade is a zero-sum game, and so will continuously argue against the idea that trade is always a win-win.

      The notion that trade with foreign producers hurts Americans is based partly on economic ignorance, partly on simple chauvinism, but a great deal on a lack of respect for Property Rights, considering that any trade involves the exchange of property that belongs exclusively to those engaged in the trade, yet somehow protectionists think someone else “owns” part of that property by virtue of where they were born.

      1. Dude… You just don’t get it. The government is The People. Says it right there with “We the People.” So all trade is not only between individual actors, but between governments as well. And deficits are deficits. So when there is a trade deficit between countries, that means the government is taking on debt. Because that’s what deficits do, and because government and The People are the same thing. That means our national debt is caused by trade deficits. Want to get the national debt under control? End trade deficits. Jesus, don’t you know anything?

      2. Robert Ringer thinks trade is 0-sum, because he’s counting opp’ty cost, prefiguring the gains of trade. See below.

    2. Why would anyone make a voluntary agreement that wasn’t in their own best interest?

      1. Tax incentives

    3. “”””Any deal is a good deal.””””

      So if I get a good deal on slave made goods I should take it?

      How about stolen goods?

      1. I think it’s assumed that we’re talking about deals where everyone involved is a voluntary participant. Obviously a “deal” made with a gun to your head doesn’t apply either.

        1. “””is a voluntary participant.”””

          So would you include participants who are owned by Chinese Communist Party? Its hard to get hard numbers but around 1/3 of the “businesses” in China are directly owned by the Communist Party. And that includes some of the largest. Another 1/3 are owned by family and friends of the Communist Party members

          1. Do those participants not benefit from trade? Without trade they’d be without jobs. Would they be better off without jobs?

            1. We absolutely do benefit from foreign slave labor. It’s straight up NIMBYism that we’re not allowed to do the same practices as the Communist Party in China.

              The motto of the day is that slavery is actually pretty cool, as long as they aren’t slaves here in the United States.

              At least, that’s what I’ve heard from the glow-box and Reason.

              1. I don’t buy the slavery argument. These people may be working in conditions that are deplorable by our standards, but the workers themselves are not property. They voluntarily choose those jobs because they consider it to be better than toiling on subsistence farms. The work might be shit by our standards, but for them it is a great improvement in life.

                1. What part of government ownership of the means of production is particularly confusing to you?

                  That includes labor.

                  What does it mean when someone else owns your labor?

                  I have never once made the argument that the slaves are NOT made better off through their slavery, I only mention the fact that it’s morally suspect. That doesn’t have any bearing on free trade whatsoever, but I feel it should be pointed out.

                  1. So all government workers are slaves?

                  2. What does it mean when someone else owns your labor?

                    That you have a job.

                    Slavery is when they own you.

                    1. *face palm*

                      I think you’re smarter than that.

                    2. Communist regimes do in fact own you, as implied by their ownership of your labor which the government does not own here in the United States. Government employee or otherwise.

                      Notably, the vast majority of Chinese workers are still subsistence farmers in those ‘subsistence farms’ that you seem to dislike so much. Why? Because that is where the Government has assigned them.

                      Again, Free Trade doesn’t give a shit but it’s just a concept. Individual human beings might not like the idea of using products produced in China, and we are obviously free to make that choice here in America. Most people have made the value judgment that human slavery is absolutely fine as long as it’s not in their backyard.

                      Price > International Human Rights

                      And, for the record, it’s not our job to go over there and ‘fix’ that either.

      2. Re: DJF,

        So if I get a good deal on slave made goods I should take it?

        If you think that so-called ‘slave-made’ goods are morally reprehensible, then you answered your own question.

        But I’ll posit a better question: does your moral outrage, whether guided by correct information or not, become reason enough to preclude others from trading those goods? Do you believe you are that significant, that important?

        1. Right. I had a friend break out this “Chinese are slaves” argument recently. It was particularly shocking to me, since for years I saw him as one of the only market-leaning people in my circle of mostly liberal friends.

          These “chinese slaves” have enjoyed some of the greatest increases in liberty and material well being in history. Billions of people have been lifted from hand-to-mouth, subsistence-level poverty by our trade with them.

          I am the first to admit that China is not Connecticut, and that there is a moral grey area here. But at least I am willing to admit that there is a range here. The trade-hawks like my friend seem to show no interest in the *fact* that the alternative to American trade is these people working in a rice patty in agrarian China, under even worse conditions and with even less freedom. And while that may make them feel morally superior, it sure won’t help the Chinese any more.

          1. China is not Connecticut

            Yeah. You can get better Chinese food in Conn.

          2. Where does Cuba rank by you, Overt? Does it matter that China’s past is different from Cuba’s?

            These are interesting consider’ns now that I think about them.

          3. Huh, so we have a moral obligation to support Chinese slave labor because our trade policy makes their slavery more comfortable. Interesting argument.

        2. Understand, Free trade has no problem with slavery

          1. Re: DJF,

            Are you giving free trade–a state of affairs–an organismic trait? Because free trade is not a moral actor. Only individual humans are moral actors.

            Free trade only means trade without undue hindrance. The fact that someone is enslaved doesn’t mean trade shouldn’t be free, just like the fact people are murdered every day doesn’t give anyone the right to impose a curfew or a prohibition on purchasing and using knives or baseball bats.

            By the way, your sudden preoccupation with enslaved people is very touching, very sweet. You almost made me shed a tear for a second. See my eyes? They’re red with tears… All because of your phony-baloney worry.

            1. Be honest, that’s not the reason your eyes are red.

              Free trade doesn’t care about slavery precisely because Free Trade, in terms of trading with a Communist regime, means that you’re trading with the state who has a comparative advantage in labor because their labor is owned by the state.

              Thus they can, and likely always will, be able to produce almost anything at an advantage.

              What, you thought we were using Chinese labor because they’re especially great at their jobs? That would cost more. That’s before you get into American environmental NIMBYism where we only seem to give a shit about pollution here in the United States. Ever wonder why a factory might be super cheap in Mexico or China when it would cost a fortune here in the States? That’s one of many, many reasons. After all, you are building the same facility with the same materials only in China you might need fewer expensive components and filters. Things like that.

              If we were allowed to pollute as much as we want and if everyone was the property of the government, we probably wouldn’t benefit anywhere near as much as we do trading with China.

              Not saying we should shut down trade or limit trade with China, just pointing out a few of the reasons why they’re such an attractive trading partner.

              Basically it boils down to free trade doesn’t make moral judgments but the people who engage in it do. Trade doesn’t trade with other trade, it’s always a human transaction.

      3. Walter Block thinks so. Well, not necessarily that you should bargain for stolen goods, but that you’re not to blame if you do.

    4. The context was trade deals. So any trade deal is a good deal assuming it reduces tariffs and other costs added to the goods that are being traded between the people in the countries affected by the trade deal between their governments.

      1. The context was trade deals. So any trade deal is a good deal assuming it reduces tariffs and other costs added to the goods that are being traded between the people in the countries affected by the trade deal between their governments.

        Her comment I quoted DIDN’T assume that. To believe that ANYTHING is a universal good is just silly. EVERYTHING has downsides.

        1. Two sentences after your quote:

          Opening up trade …

          That tells me that the deals she is talking about are deals that open up trade. Opening up trade is always a good thing.

          1. But none of these are deals to open up trade. They’re existing deals with long time trading partners.

            1. Deals that opened up trade. Better?

              And Trump wants to end the deals. As in less free trade.

              1. What part of ‘renegotiate’ means ‘abolish’ to you, specifically?

                1. The chance of a contract terminating in renegotiation is a fundamental risk of renegotiation.

    5. Well I don’t know if *any* deal is a good deal. I can think of some pretty terrible deals. But the larger point I think is that the existence of a trade deficit does not imply that there are “winners” and “losers”.

      1. I can think of some pretty terrible deals.

        Ex Post Facto judgments are called “opinions”.

        The two participants trade because they expect to benefit Ex Ante. You would have to explain how is a trade between A and B not be good because it doesn’t benefit Z who A nor B know from a hole in the wall.

        1. You would have to explain how is a trade between A and B not be good because it doesn’t benefit Z who A nor B know from a hole in the wall.

          JERBS! AMURKIN JERBS!

    6. Yep. Beat me to it.

      Mangu-Ward is displaying a shocking cluelessness about game theory.

      TDS makes Reason stupid.

  2. Trump may understand trade perfectly well. It could be that his goal is to keep his base happy and his base happens to be ignorant when it comes to trade. Or maybe he wants to benefit his own companies at the expense of others. Who knows?

    1. I really think that Trump says what he says because he thinks that *only he* has the supreme deal-making abilities to make the “terrific” deals. He really is that narcissistic.

      1. You know who else really is that narcissistic

    2. He’s been harping on trade deficits in interviews for 25+ years, he almost certainly believes it

  3. The plant is a boondoggle, designed to suck $3 billion in cash and favors out of taxpayers. But more vitally, it’s insurance against the great political risk introduced by a president

    I bring you a gift, oh great chief Cheeto-man, of several heads of cattle and young boys and girls!

  4. ROFLMAO, a complete and total nobody is telling a billionaire with his name on buildings and properties all over the world that he doesn’t know anything about business and capitalism. Awesome and hilarious.

    1. ROFLMAO, a complete and total nobody A person who is economically literate is telling a billionaire with his name on buildings and properties all over the world that he doesn’t know anything about business and capitalism economics.

      ftfy

      Running a business and understanding economics have nothing to do with each other. Plenty of successful businessmen don’t know anything about economics, and plenty of economists couldn’t run a business.

      1. The entire premise of the piece is that he doesn’t know how to negotiate and make deals! Are you fucking me? Big time real estate is one of the toughest, most cutthroat business on earth, that requires you to be able to do hardball negotiating with several different entities all at once. I doubt that Mango could negotiate a favorable deal with a used car salesman.

        1. No. The premise of the piece is that trade deals are good because they create freer markets. You know “Free Minds and Free Markets”? Trump thinks trade deals are bad. He is an economic ignoramus.

        2. The premise of the piece is effectively that Trump is wrong-headed when negotiating deals on behalf of others. Trump may be great at negotiating deals for himself, where his objectives, costs and benefits are clear to himself. But he’s not great when he’s negotiating on behalf of 340 million people. And the fact that he thinks a trade deficit is bad simply because someone over a century ago decided to call the sum of certain types of trades a “deficit” shows he’s clueless.

      2. If KMW knows anything about economics, she didn’t display that knowledge in this article.

        1. And where did you get your economics degree from professor?

    2. My first career job was on a small team reporting to the CEO of a successful software company. He was a shrewd businessman who could sell anything, and also an avowed Marxist who worked tirelessly to destroy the financial institutions that made him rich.

      Being a good business person does not make you an expert in economics, just like being a pilot doesn’t make you a good aerospace engineer capable of building airliners. In fact, it often means that you think your specific experiences are applicable to the entire world, and you lack the training to see when those anecdotal experiences shouldn’t apply. In these cases, mandating how billions of people will trade with each other is not the same as running a hotel chain.

  5. The focus on trade deficits has been annoying to me for going on 30 years. My company buys a bunch of tools from China for $100,000. Now everyone wails about the increased trade deficit. Meanwhile my company is busy using those tools to build houses that earns me a pretty penny, while providing a roof over the heads of hundreds of people. How did the trade deficit make me or my country worse off?

    1. How did the trade deficit make me or my country worse off?

      Because money is wealth, and goods are worthless. When you buy those tools you are poorer because you’re out a hundred grand. The country is out a hundred grand. The tools are meaningless. It’s be money that matters. Because money is wealth.

      I mean, look at the trade deficit you have with the grocery store. Have they ever bought anything from you? No. And you give them all this money for stupid shit like food. That makes you poor and the grocery store rich. You are worse off as a result because they’ve got all your money and they didn’t buy anything from you.

      1. This is more or less what Trump is saying, and it is indeed retarded.

  6. If the ultimatum game is to be played multiple times, then it makes sense to reject offers.

    I’ll also point out that Robert Ringer?you can’t get more libertarian than him?has written that in any voluntary deal, there’s a winner and a loser. He explicitly contradicts those who say both sides gain.

    Both Ringer & those he contradicts are right, counting different terms. Ringer is looking at the gains of trade & thinking about how they’re divided between the bargainers; if you get more than your share, you win; less, you lose. So he’s taking the gain as built in, assumed from the start. Those he contradicts are looking at the situation before the deal is even contemplated, so there’s no opp’ty cost from a possible deal in their reckoning; in that case, both sides are expected to win. Sometimes it can happn that someone’s judgment is so bad that s/he actually loses value from what s/he started w, but in the long run such bad bargainers leave the market.

    So in the bargaining game, if you play it multiple times (which is like real life), it makes sense to have a credible threat to scotch the deal if you don’t get enough in the bargain. In the long run you’ll benefit by, in effect, throwing away $ on the table. Everybody in actual biz knows this.

    1. However, this is irrelevant to int’l trade because it’s not your $, tyrant! You make things better for your country (as well as other countries) by letting your peons trade freely w each other.

      However, if you actually have a chance to open up trade by the threat of closing it more, because other countries’ tyrants are not as enlightened, then maybe it pays to restrict your own people sometimes, in effect throwing away their $ on the table. Adam Smith doubted it could ever work that way. I’m not so sure?but it still needs to be kept in mind that even if you do wish better for your people, you’re playing this game w their $, tyrant.

    2. If the ultimatum game is to be played multiple times, then it makes sense to reject offers.

      Yes. Thank you. Someone gets it.

    3. If the ultimatum game is to be played multiple times, then it makes sense to reject offers.

      I’m relieved to see at least one more person understands the game theory, and the shocking incompetence Mangu-Ward is displaying with respect to it.

    4. Re: Robert,

      Ringer is looking at the gains of trade & thinking about how they’re divided between the bargainers; if you get more than your share, you win; less, you lose.

      That only makes sense if he believes value is objective. Which means what he’s arguing–IF you stated it correctly–is PURE NONSENSE. What he’s doing is making an ex post facto play-by-play which is no better than an opinion.

      “If you get more” of what? “If you get less” of what? If I exchange my car for a computer, does it mean I “lost” a car? Doesn’t it mean, instead, I gained a computer *I* wanted?

      1. It means you might’ve lost whatever additional payment you would’ve gotten had you driven a harder bargain.

  7. Up the amount in the experiment from $20 to say, $1M then the trading gets real:

    You keep $.999M and offer me $1.00: Go fuck yourself. Only a fool would accept that deal. The split will wind up very near 50/50.

    Twenty dollars to start is nearly useless. If I don’t like you, I will probably turn down any offer just to be sure you get nothing.

    1. Exactly. The premise that you should take any deal ignores the fact that screwing you over can have value for me. This was not a psychology experiment. It was an economics experiment.

      1. Of course in this game, the giver has to think about what would be a good enough offer so as to accept the deal.

  8. “Any deal is a good deal.”

    What an embarrassing thing to say in public.

    1. I always tell people that when I have them over a barrel.

  9. Well.

    There was a lot of speculation….but no real hard facts. Trump may do this…Trump said X and we interpret that to mean that he actually meant Y….

    And then the insinuation that Apple allowed Trump to bully them into helping him look good……………….?

    Maybe you guys can’t tell how you appear anymore?

    In the ultimatum game most participants do a 50/50 split because, even if they know that there will be multiple rounds, the 50/50 split nets them the easiest money and the most equitable deal.

    What’s wrong with attempting to get a more equitable deal?

  10. His way of talking about trade, as a series of good deals or bad deals, misses the genius of the idea of swapping stuff in a market

    Or maybe its just a form of negotiation.

    (or as someone says just above me: “”What’s wrong with attempting to get a more equitable deal?””)

    Yes, he has a way of *talking* about trade in stupid, absolutist terms. But the complaint made in the piece would only make any sense if he also behaved in ways which cut off the trade-nose to spite the free-marketers-face.

    I believe Julian Sanchez called this tactic, employed around here near-constantly, “Weak Manning

    With a “weak man,” you don’t actually fabricate a position, but rather pick the weakest of the arguments actually offered up by people on the other side and treat it as the best or only one they have

    1. Re: GILMORE,

      (or as someone says just above me: “What’s wrong with attempting to get a more equitable deal?”)

      “What, on MY BEHALF? Go fuck yourself. I do my OWN fucking deals, thank you very much.”

      ^^^ That’s how I answer obtrusive assholes who presume to know what’s good for me better than I can.

      1. 1 – i was quoting the person above me

        2 – your comment seems to ignore the fact that any trade deal – ‘deals’ by definition specify trade-obstructing limits and conditions which make trade unfree – bypasses your right to negotiate individually.

        you’re pretending that someone here is arguing in favor of “more limits” than we already have. “better deals” imply fewer restrictions on both parties.

        No one is presuming to know what’s in your best interests. If we are tied up in trade agreements made by previous administrations which place undue burdens on US vs their partners, then getting rid of them is a step forward.

        You don’t need to fuck yourself, but you might want to think more carefully before spewing meaningless vituperation.

  11. But that’s not what people do. When offered less than 30 percent of the total, peeved second players consistently turn it down. Tweaking the terms can change the outcome on the margins, but not the underlying fact that even when people are getting something for nothing, they’re willing to sabotage their own material gain to make sure the person who offered them a bad deal loses too.

    Like I said, people would rather see empty shelves and hungry people than to see a can of beans on the shelf for $15.

  12. In theory, the second player should accept any offer.

    Wrong. Worse than wrong. Incompetent. Embarrassingly so.

    Trade is an *iterative* game. In iterative games, tit for tat dominates “When I slap you, you’ll take it and like it”.

    I expected better of her.

    But the progressive rot spreads at Reason, and with it their ability to evaluate their Trump hating arguments. When all the staff hates Trump, they’re too busy clapping like trained seals over anti Trump articles to actually think about their arguments.

    1. Re: buybuydandavis,

      Trade is an *iterative* game.

      It’s not an iterative game. All trades are DISCRETE. You’re most likely confusing the aggregated trades with ‘trade’ but only individuals trade. Trade is always between two parties and each trade is unique.

      But the progressive rot spreads at Reason

      Because they criticize Trump’s trade policies?

      Trumpistas are resorting to the same tactics of their brethren on the Marxian left: engage in Ad Hominem attacks.

      1. I’ll mark you under “clueless about game theory”. Thanks for playing.

      2. If the fallacy fits, wear it. Amiright?

      3. “Iterative” means it’s not the last trade you’ll ever make. Where did you get the idea it referred to aggregation of different people’s trades?

  13. What the fuck is a “Trade Deficit”?

    1. A trade deficit is when you import more than you export. This makes you poorer because you have to pay for those imports, and money is wealth. The stuff that you receive for the money doesn’t matter. Money is what matters. If you really want to live the good life, sell everything you own except a change of clothing and a suitcase. Stuff the money into the suitcase and sleep on a park bench. Sure you won’t own anything, but you’ll have all that money! You’ll be rich!

      1. Ah, thanks, now I understand. I was confused by the English.
        Webster defining “deficit” as being less than the amount desired seems to indicate, in this case, that we need MOAR trade.

        What if I want to trade money for something from Bumfuck and then I sell it for a profit? That would still be a trade deficit with Bumfuck, right? What was measured? What did Bumfuck do with the money? Maybe they bought some crap from somebody I don’t have a trade deficit with. Did we measure that? Holy shit! This is fun!

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  15. You can’t win at trade, trade is not a zero sum game. Everyone wins or everyone loses.

  16. I’ve always thought of international trade as a black box where money goes in, and widgets come out – whether the actor inside the box is a Chinaman or a robot matters not. Any wedge between this trade would be an arbitrary rentier exploitation, so the fairest way to fix the maldistribution is to have even redistribution.

  17. The minority president isn’t interested in fair trade or any other idea of fairness. In his mind there are winners and losers and a win -win situation is a loss. It is not a question of winning but for him to feel successful the other side must lose. His ego demands that he be the last man standing even if he is surrounded by scorched earth.

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