When the political establishment wants to pass major trade agreements, we see respectable Washington types making pronouncements bearing so little relationship to reality that they would cause Sarah Palin to cringe. The Washington Post gave us one such gem last week when it took issue with those saying currency rules should be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Hundreds of members of Congress (from both parties!) are joining economists left and right to include an enforceable provision on currency manipulation in the TPP, but there are still some who argue that this rule isn't needed. That's why we put together this handy list of the top 10 facts you need to know about currency and the TPP. (Hint: It's about middle-class jobs).
The critical reason that Congress should take a pass on this much-too-late effort to address currency manipulation is that it would likely abort our chance for a really beneficial free-trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations, which would bring us must better access to many growing markets. If there were a good time to do this, it was many years ago.
Stop the foolishness and talk to us like grownups. There will be no "trade war" if we pursue a currency chapter in the TPP. There will be a lot of arguing and negotiating about what technically constitutes currency manipulation to gain an edge in trade. It could blow up the deal, and Secretary Lew, Rep. Ryan, and others should explain to us and to members of Congress why that's a more costly outcome to American workers and businesses than continuing to live with labor demand-draining trade deficits. If they can do so, then let's have a TPP. If they can neither make a convincing case based on facts, not war-mongering and fear tactics, nor can they offer a convincing alternative for legislative actions outside of the TPP against currency manipulation, then they must either negotiate a currency chapter or accept defeat.
Any deal that forces women and human rights to take a backseat to profit and trade should be a non-starter. But right now, the United States is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with 11 nations including Brunei, a country that recently adopted a vicious new penal code threatening the rights and lives of women, lesbians, and gay men.
The IMF Guidelines demonstrate that the United States is not manipulating its currency and would not be at risk of losing a dispute. The far greater risk is that more middle class jobs will be lost in the United States as a result of foreign governments' currency manipulation. We need strong and enforceable disciplines in TPP to help prevent that from happening.