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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)

Blog Entries by Ian Fletcher

I Am Leaving the Coalition for a Prosperous America

(6) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 2:11 PM

This is my last post as Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

After two years with this organization, I will be leaving to return to private industry.

Prior to working for CPA, I was with the U.S. Business & Industry Council for two...

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Year in Review: 2012 in US Trade Reform

(8) Comments | Posted December 31, 2012 | 7:32 PM

Previously negotiated U.S. free trade agreements went into effect with Korea in March, Colombia in May, and Panama in October.

President Obama continued to push for the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership.

He also continued to refuse to designate China a currency manipulator, despite...

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Globaloney, 19th Century Edition

(13) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 7:30 AM

Everyone knows we live in a brave new world of globalization.

And like a lot of things that everyone knows, it isn't so.

Not only was the globalization of the late 19th century, with formal colonial empires spanning the world, just as profound as today, it generated a similar...

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The Fiscal Cliff and the Trade Deficit

(64) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 7:32 AM

First, let's get the definitions straight, as confusion about definitions is the single biggest avoidable cause of economic nonsense.

The trade deficit measures how much America's imports exceed its exports.

The federal deficit measures how much America's government's expenditures exceed its revenues.

The cure for a trade deficit, for...

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Romney Lost Because He Failed to Embrace Economic Nationalism

(15) Comments | Posted November 7, 2012 | 5:26 PM

If Romney had won, I'd be saying it was because Americans have a long, long history of booting incumbents who preside over high unemployment and economic weakness.

This much is true. In fact, I think Romney counted on it all too much. In the end, his case against Obama...

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An Election Fable

(9) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 9:31 AM

Once upon a time there was a republic.

Like many republics before and since, it was immensely proud that it was not ruled by a king. Long ago, in fact, the citizens of the republic had overthrown a king and sent him packing.

The republic, like many other republics before...

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A Worthwhile Independent for Congress

(4) Comments | Posted October 25, 2012 | 8:44 PM

I want to ignore the big election for a minute and focus on one congressional race in Colorado. This is a race that's more important than most people realize, because it examples one of the few genuine attempts to get America beyond its present partisan gridlock.

Most independent or third-party...

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Obama and Romney on China: Who's Lying?

(25) Comments | Posted September 27, 2012 | 10:37 PM

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have both been upping the ante on international trade issues lately, especially America's big trade flashpoint, China.

Romney recently picked up an unintended reverse endorsement, of a sort, from the Club for Growth, a millionaires' club super PAC that would normally be a natural friend...

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Obama's Dumb Criticism of Romney on China Currency

(342) Comments | Posted September 16, 2012 | 11:43 AM

Mitt Romney, as I've noted, has been heating up the issue of Obama's failure to stop China's currency manipulation.

This currency manipulation is a big distorter of our trade with China, and therefore a big driver of America's trade deficit, which makes it a big driver of job...

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Romney Heating up on China Trade Issue

(46) Comments | Posted September 15, 2012 | 6:53 PM

As I predicted nearly a year ago, Mitt Romney is heating up his offensive on the China trade issue.

His campaign blog has just released a page promising that he "will ensure China plays by the rules," and blaming the Obama administration for not doing so,...

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Does Romney Mean It on Trade?

(31) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 6:56 PM

Mitt Romney has certainly been making some pleasant noises about fixing America's trade mess, whose $500 billion a year deficit is probably the biggest unsung reason our economy isn't turning around. But does he really mean what he says? I've looked at the evidence here, here,...

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What's Romney Really Up To? Softball Economic Nationalism

(99) Comments | Posted September 6, 2012 | 4:26 PM

In my 2010 book Free Trade Doesn't Work, I speculated that the following might occur:

Both political parties are feeling the heat of an intensifying global economic challenge to the U.S. and are looking for ways to take the pressure off their voters.

Withdrawing from free trade...

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Power Politics vs. American Prosperity

(34) Comments | Posted August 22, 2012 | 9:29 AM

I had one of those "A-ha!" moments recently.

I was engaged in an email dialogue with a moderately prominent individual active in America's international trade relations. He's a former high-ranking public official, important enough to matter but not a household name. You might recognize him if you follow trade politics...

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Free Markets, Libertarians, Trade Deficits, Economic Decline: Joseph Cotto Interviews Ian Fletcher

(10) Comments | Posted July 1, 2012 | 5:02 PM

Journalist Joseph Cotto interviewed me recently. Our conversation is below.

Q: Today, many people tend to confuse the concepts of free markets, free trade, and fair trade with one another. How would you describe each?

A: "Free markets," like most political terms, can be debated, but it basically just means...

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Leak Cracks Open Trans-Pacific Partnership Scandal

(38) Comments | Posted June 13, 2012 | 6:48 PM

Obama was warned, frankly, about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Given his status as a center-left president, the public's burgeoning disapproval of free-trade agreements, and the fact that he criticized such agreements when President Bush made them, he really should have known that such treaties were not for him.

And...

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A National Network for Manufacturing Innovation?

(48) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 9:25 AM

It's no secret American manufacturing is in crisis, and that its problems form a significant component of our present economic mess. I've written before about how the Obama administration may (may!) be starting to get serious about the problem.

Another small but significant data point on the question...

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Is Obama Getting Serious About Manufacturing? Maybe

(64) Comments | Posted April 23, 2012 | 10:53 AM

America has been waiting a long time for the Obama administration to get serious about the problems of our manufacturing sector.

Finally, there has been a small sign that the corner may -- may -- be turning. Let's take a look at a speech recently given by Gene...

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The Disingenuous Economics of Ron Paul

(712) Comments | Posted February 20, 2012 | 2:31 PM

Ron Paul, even among his detractors, enjoys a reputation for being a man of clear and consistent principle. Perhaps on some issues he is. But the more I study his positions on free trade, the more the one word that comes to mind is... disingenuous.

What does Rep. Paul have...

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The Disappointing Economics of Rick Santorum

(93) Comments | Posted February 12, 2012 | 3:41 PM

Rick Santorum seems to be (if the bloom isn't off by the time this article comes out) the latest anybody-but-Romney Flavor of the Week, so it's work taking a look at his economic ideas.

I know, I know: he's got some interesting, er, cultural baggage. But I'll leave that to...

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As Jobs Go Global, U.S. Workers Pay

(72) Comments | Posted February 3, 2012 | 2:02 PM

It's no secret the pot is boiling a bit again with respect to America's trade-induced economic problems. Or, more properly, free-trade induced, as neither I nor any other protectionist I know is against trade per se. Or, to be even more precise, "free"-trade induced, because free trade isn't really free...

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