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Ian Fletcher
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Ian Fletcher was Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nationwide grass-roots organization dedicated to fixing America’s trade policies and comprising representatives from business, agriculture, and labor. He was previously Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a Washington think tank founded in 1933 and before that, an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco. He is the author of Free Trade Doesn't Work: What Should Replace It and Why. (CPA, 2011, $24.95)

Entries by Ian Fletcher

Economic Globalization Is a Choice

(11) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 1:23 AM

Economic globalization is often presented as an inevitability, a wave of the future to which we must either adapt or get left behind. But it isn't. How much globalization we get and what kind are a choice, a result of deliberate political decisions we have the power to make or...

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Congress Is Starting to Understand That Free Trade Agreements Don't Work

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2016 | 1:34 AM

I've been fighting free trade since 2008. For most of that time, while much of the public has been sympathetic, it's been an uphill battle with Congress. I used to lobby on Capitol Hill, and I frequently got no better than bored politeness from Congressional offices.

So I'm very glad...

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American Politicians Sign Bad Trade Agreements Because They Don't Understand International Law

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2016 | 8:55 AM

The debate over signing the awful Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement is hamstrung by the fact that some American politicians don't seem to understand what international law is.

They talk about signing this agreement like it's a lease on an storefront in Indianapolis, where what's written down on paper...

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No, National Borders Are Not 'Arbitrary'

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2016 | 1:58 PM

One of the truly dumbest arguments I hear in favor of free trade is that national borders are "arbitrary."

So we shouldn't care about the trade deficit, because it only measures economic activity "inside an arbitrary line on the ground."

And we shouldn't care about deindustrialization...

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The Trade Deficit Does, Too, Matter

(0) Comments | Posted March 29, 2016 | 11:15 AM

Never have I seen a political issue so susceptible to sophistry - in the original sense of that term, denoting tricky conceptual sleight-of-hand - as trade economics.

America's trade deficit, which has fluctuated around the $500 billion per year mark for a decade, is real money, period....

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Do Americans Even Deserve Prosperity?

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2016 | 12:33 AM

In case you hadn't heard, there's been a brouhaha in Republican circles revolving around the idea that Donald Trump's voters are a bunch of self-pitying white trash who are flocking to Trump because he gives them license to blame their self-inflicted problems on mass immigration and...

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Ted Cruz Is a Disingenuous Flipper on Free Trade

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2016 | 12:12 PM

As I've written previously, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are probably sincere in their claims to oppose free trade and free-trade agreements, while Hillary Clinton's opposition is probably opportunistic and fake.

The Republican side, now that we're down to two real candidates, seems to...

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Free Traders Can't Name a Single Trade War

(0) Comments | Posted March 8, 2016 | 11:24 AM

Failed 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been claiming that Donald Trump's (and by logical implication, Bernie Sanders') proposed rejection of free trade would start a trade war and tip America into recession.

Economists Paul Krugman and Howard Richman have...

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2/25/2016

(55) Comments | Posted February 25, 2016 | 1:02 PM

This post is no longer available. It contained a charge against the Obama administration of lying about trade numbers, based on information provided by a usually reliable source that was later found to be inaccurate. The author regrets the error.

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What the Candidates Are Saying About Free Trade in the Debates

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2016 | 3:27 PM

Below are all the cases during the presidential debates so far in which candidates have mentioned free trade as an issue. (I've edited a little for clarity, as raw transcripts of live debates contain a lot of verbal clutter.)

As you'll see, this issue has boiled somewhat hotter on the...

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Fair Trade Romp in New Hampshire

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2016 | 9:48 PM

So Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won their respective New Hampshire primaries.

From a fair-trade point-of-view, the news couldn't be better. However the Eccentric Billionaire from Queens and the Eccentric Socialist from Brooklyn may differ, on this they agree.

As I've written before, I think both Trump and...

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Being Sold With Bogus Economic Models

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 12:01 PM

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is terrible even apart from its quantifiable economic effects, as it threatens our environment, our health, our democracy, our sovereignty, our security and many other things. But it is also a lousy deal on the pure economics, which is why it is currently being sold...

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Unlike Clinton, Sanders Really Does Oppose Free Trade

(0) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 11:02 PM

Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running against free trade, to judge by their stump rhetoric. But it's fairly clear that Sanders, unlike Clinton, is sincere in his opposition. Unlike her, he has a consistent record of opposing free trade, not a long series of zig-zags for...

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No, Free Trade Didn't Lift Millions Out of Poverty

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 11:18 PM

One of the biggest myths one hears about free trade is that it has "lifted millions out of poverty." This thoughtless piece of happy-talk is a favorite boast of Thomas Friedman (author, The Lexus and the Olive Tree) types and those who never woke up from the late-1990s dream of...

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Baloney About Free Trade and Terrorism

(13) Comments | Posted November 20, 2015 | 8:53 PM

For once, nobody's talking economics, because international terrorism has everyone's attention. Now terrorism itself isn't my area of expertise, but I did want to quickly note that there's considerable sophistry being spewed about connections between it and free trade.

Lie number one is that an open-borders world, which obviously has...

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Five Years Later, Free Trade Still Doesn't Work

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2015 | 11:41 PM

My book Free Trade Doesn't Work was published five years ago by the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a Washington-based think tank and lobbying organization.

If the reader will forgive a bit of inside baseball, I'd like to review what I got right and what I got...

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Hillary's Record: Pretending to Oppose Trade Agreements

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2015 | 8:41 AM

I've already written about why I don't believe Hillary Clinton's recent announcement that she opposes the awful Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is sincere.

But she hasn't just done this once. She did it before, on NAFTA. She has, in fact, a long record of verbally criticizing free-trade...

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Hillary, I Don't Believe You Oppose the TPP

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 9:36 AM

So, Hillary Clinton, you've just come out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Respectfully, Madam Secretary, I don't believe a single word of this. I think this is pure politics, caused by having Sen. Sanders nipping at your heels from the left.

How does it feel to...

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Disaster

(106) Comments | Posted October 5, 2015 | 2:19 PM

So a deal between the signatory nations has finally been reached for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Personally, I've been fighting this for a long time.)

This is firmly on Obama's plate. Given his status as a liberal president, the public's ever-growing disapproval of free-trade agreements, and the...

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Donald Trump Is Trying to Save the Republican Party From Itself

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 2:00 PM

I'm neither endorsing nor condemning Mr. Trump, but I do think he's trying to save the Republican party from itself in a very rational way. The last thing he is is a clown or dilettante. (OK, maybe a clown.)

Why? Because the Republican party has essentially exhausted the two ideological...

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