Wednesday, March 31, 2004
A foursquare problem
My latest New Republic Online column is up. It's on the hidden constraints that either Bush or Kerry will face in their foreign policies after the November election.
Political scientists in the crowd might notice a hidden 2X2 diagram that didn't make the final piece, but was implicit in how I set up the article. For those of you who aren't political scientists -- poli sci types love a good 2X2.
Go check it out!! [Where's the footnote link? Where's the damn footnote link?!!--ed. For this essay, there's not a lot to link to, except for Kerry's foreign policy page and the February 27th speech that was the source of the quotes in the essay. Oh, and a previous TNR online essay I wrote about Edmund Burke and democratic nation-bulding.]
UPDATE: My apologies to readers that the TNR Online essay is subscriber only. While a TNR subscription makes a charming gift, I was not aware this was going to happen with my essays.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Drezner gets results from TNR!! Non-subscribers can access the whole article by clicking here.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Outsourcing creates American jobs
Treasury Secretary John Snow apparently sparked some controversy in a Monday interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer. Why? Snow said what Greg Mankiw said last month -- that the outsourcing of U.S. jobs "is part of trade ... and there can't be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger."
Hillary Clinton wasted no time in bashing Snow, saying: "I don't know what reality the Bush administration is living in, but it's certainly not the reality I represent, from one end of New York to the other."
Funny thing, though -- Snow appears to be right, according to this CNN report:
[C'mon, this study was sponsored by the IT industry -- can it be credible?--ed. According to the relevant Global Insight web page,
UPDATE: To clear up one source of confusion from some of the comments -- the study is not claiming that an economy with outsourcing will create only 317,000 jobs by 2008. The study says that holding other factors constant (population growth, fluctuations in aggregate demand, etc.) an American economy creates an additional 317,000 jobs.
The VP and the NSC
One of my great white whales has been the Bush team's poor management of the foreign policy process. I had suggested two months ago that one cause of this was the fact that the Vice President had inserted himself into the National Security Council process in a way that deliberately or accidentally sabotaged the decision-making process:
U.S. News and World Report has a story this week confirming this fear. The highlights:
Monday, March 29, 2004
Finishing Against All Enemies
Having finished Against All Enemies, I was searching for a way to describe my read of Richard Clarke. Christopher Hitchens points out in Slate that in Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon's The Age of Sacred Terror, Clarke is depicted "as an egotistical pain in the ass who had the merit of getting things right."
That's not bad. I'd make it simpler -- Richard Clarke is the perfect bureaucrat. I mean that in the best and worst senses of the word. In the best sense, it's clear that Clarke was adept at maximizing the available resources and authority required to do his job, given the organizational rivalries and cultures that made such a pursuit difficult. In the worst sense, Clarke was a monomaniacal martinet whose focus on his bailiwick to the exclusion of everything else is phenomenal.
Think I'm exaggerating? According to Against All Enemies, the reason Clinton decides to intervene in Bosnia in 1995 is because Al Qaeda was threatening to capture the Bosnian government. That's an interesting theory to be sure, but somewhat at odds with more authoritative accounts of the intervention (it doesn't help that Clarke misspells Richard Holbrooke's name).
The result is that what's in Against all Enemies is certainly the truth, but as I said before, I doubt it's the whole truth.
Clarke implies that the Bush administration should have made Al Qaeda the highest priority -- as it supposedly was during the second term of the Clinton administration. However, the Clinton sections have a familiar refrain -- Clarke's team tries to get the government to move, the White House is behind the push, and the effort dies somewhere in the bowels of the CIA, FBI, or the Pentagon. Now, the heads of the CIA and FBI were unchanged during the first eight months of the Bush administration, and Rumsfeld's difficulties with the uniformed brass at Defense during those months prompted rumors of resignation. So it's hard to see how anything would have changed unless the Bush team had focused on Al Qaeda to the exclusion of all other foreign policy priorities, which no one, not even Clarke, was suggesting at the time.
Vive le Big Mac!! Vive la France!!
Todd Richissin writes in the Baltimore Sun that despite the frictions over the past year, France still loves MacDonald's. Why? It's their nourriture de confort -- comfort food:
Saturday, March 27, 2004
More feedback on Kerry's international tax plan
I also received an e-mail that's worth re-printing:
Just one person's account? Not according to Kerry's economic advisors. From the New York Times:
This story has additional lukewarm sentiment from the business community.
So, I'm underwhelmed -- but oddly encouraged.
Why? This is much less populist than I had feared based on Kerry's rhetoric during the primary season. This is a key point of the Times article cited above. The key bits:
OK, The praise of Rubin might be a bit over the top, but I find a lot of this reassuring. The fact that, as the article reports, "[this] sort of thinking does not appear to sit so well with Senator Edward M. Kennedy" is just gravy.
The ten-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide
The Economist has an article marking the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and the lessons learned from it. There's an interesting contrast between the lessons learned by the "international community" and the lessons learned by the survivors of the genocide:
UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof points out why this is a far from academic conversation:
David Gelernter writes in the Weekly Standard about the relevancy of genocide prevention to Iraq as well. Both articles are worth checking out (and thanks to commenters for raising both topics).
Friday, March 26, 2004
The media whore of Hyde Park
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that my outsourcing essay is starting to attract some attention. Here's my day today:
Here's the funny/scary thing -- I have no idea how the interview will be framed. I was critical of Kerry on outsourcing but I also said that the corporate taxation proposal he announced today indicated a change in rhetoric from "Benedict Arnold CEO's." We talked for ten minutes, and there was a lot of tape -- they could go either way with it. [You should have followed Brad DeLong's advice on interviews--ed. Now you remember to tell me.]
UPDATE: Nope, they cut me. C'est la vie.
John Kerry on corporate taxation
The Washington Post reports that John Kerry is giving a major economic speech in Detroit today, proposing a mixture of temporary and permanent cuts in corporate tax rates in return for "the most sweeping reform of international tax law in over 40 years." The gist:
Here's the Associated Press analysis: "[Kerry] settled on a blend of loophole-cutting populism and business-friendly moderation, casting his package as jobs-producing tax reform."
1) This is a lot more about symbolism than substance. According to the Post story, the total sums involved in these tax changes are around $12 billion. That sounds like a lot, but it's around 1% of the federal budget. Not a lot of money either way.
2) That said, the symbolism is important, in that "corprate tax reductions" sound a lot better to the business community than "Benedict Arnold CEOs."
3) The economic advisors quoted in the Post story are Roger Altman and Gene Sperling. They fall decidedly into the "sane" camp of Democratic economic advisors.
Palestinians for nonviolence
In the wake of the second intifada and the increase in suicide bombings over the past four years, it's tempting -- particularly post 9/11 -- to pidgeonhole all Palestinians as a feckless, violent people. Sheik Yassin's assassination and the resulting protests in the occupied territories only reinforce that perception.
That kind of easy stereotyping is dangerous, because it obscures the complexities within Palestinian society that I've discussed in the past. I'm not saying that Palestinian civil society is in a healthy state -- merely that it would be a mistake to assume that Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Al-Aqsa = Palestine.
On that note, the Chicago Tribune reports the following:
A fitting coda for Jayson Blair
Thursday, March 25, 2004
For those who are reluctant to shell out the money, Julia Turner creates a "good parts" version of Against All Enemies in Slate.
Brad DeLong, meanwhile, composes what Condoleezza Rice's public testimony would have looked like -- it looks pretty credible. [UPDATE: the New York Times reports that Rice will testify before the 9/11 Commission again in private -- she had testified behind closed doors for four hours last month.]
Fox News reports on the emnity between Rice and Clarke:
*Post title changed upon request from Tom Maguire.
UPDATE: David Adesnik has more.
Reading Against All Enemies, part II
Over at Time, Romesh Ratnesar accuses Clarke of "sexing up" his interactions with Bush. One example:
This is on pages 32-33 of Against All Enemies -- and actually, Clarke's written account of the Bush encounter is more charitable to the President than Ratnesay indicates. The key passage occur right after the encounter:
[Yeah, and don't forget what Clarke said on background in mid-2002!--ed. Actually, I'm not terribly persuaded that this should weaken Clarke's credibility. As anyone who's worked in government should know, what's said in an official capacity will read differently than what's said when one is allowed to be candid. Clarke was acting as a dutiful bureaucrat in 2002, and not as an independent agent.]
An interesting correlation
Mickey Kaus says what I was thinking:
[But that contradicts Noam Chomsky's thesis that the media has been bought and paid for by Bush!--ed. You did that just to link to Chomsky's new blog, didn't you? Er, yes - but his permalinks don't seem to work--ed.]
CLARIFICATION: Commenters on this post seem to think that I think this is more than a coincidence. I don't -- and I'm assuming Mickey's tongue is mostly in his cheek as well.
Reading Against All Enemies
As I said before, Richard Clarke's criticisms of the Bush administration need to be taken seriously, so I went out and bought Against All Enemies yesterday. Last night I read the preface and the first two chapters. What stood out for me so far came on page x in the preface, in which he writes:
So, in Clarke's account, three Republicans dropped the ball on terrorism, while the lone Democrat fought the good fight but failed to achieve anything because of Republican attacks.
Let's assume for the moment that Clarke is telling the truth in his characterization of the four presidents (I still need to read those portions). Is he telling the whole truth? Tell you what, let's rework those bullet points a little bit:
Did I stack the deck in the second set of bullet points? Absolutely. My point, however, is that Clarke stacked the deck in the first set of bullet points.
Why would he do this? Some will say it's because Clarke is a partisan hack, which isn't really credible -- he
I'm still going to read the rest of the book. It's worth remembering that Clarke was correct in his assessment of Al Qaeda, and as the Chicago Tribune points out, even George W. Bush acknowledged to Bob Woodward that bin Laden was not on the top of this administration's priority list when it took office. And I am curious to see what he has to say about whether/how the decision to invade Iraq undermined the military effort to defeat Al Qaeda.
Still, it's hard not to believe that Clarke's evaluation of presidential performance is directly correlated with how well those presidents treated Clarke.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian posted something about Clarke from three weeks ago that's also worth reading.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Globalization and creative destruction
In previous posts, I've treated trade and technology as competing explanations for why employment has declined in certain sectors. However, to be fair, the effects are not mutually exclusive. Open borders increase the incentives for technological innovation, and innovation increases the rewards from trade.
On this point, the New York Times ran an article two days ago about how the trade and technology are intertwined. Their case study -- how globalization is affecting the orange-growing industry. The highlights:
Read the whole thing. The creative desctruction of technological innovation does impose short-run dislocations on certain segments of the American economy -- particularly unskilled workers. However, the long-run effects are unambiguously positive, as Ted Balaker argues over at Reason (link via Virginia Postrel).
This is not a new debate -- Frédéric Bastiat made these arguments in mid-19th century France. The Dallas Federal Reserve has a nice primer of Bastiat's arguments (thanks to Scott Harris for the link).
The rhetoric of Bastiat's opponents sound awfully familiar today.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Regarding Richard Clarke
Being out of town and putting the Foreign Affairs essay to bed, I'm late to the Richard Clarke story. Clarke has a new book, Against All Enemies: Inside the White House's War on Terror--What Really Happened. He also appeared on 60 Minutes. The Bush administration using the big guns -- Condoleezza Rice and Richard Cheney -- to fire back. Howard Kurtz provides a nice rundown of the state of play.
The blogosphere is getting into it as well -- check out Josh Marshall, Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum, David Adesnik, Chris Lawrence, James Joyner, and David Frum. The basic liberal line is that Clarke's account is a damning indictment of the Bush team's woeful unpreparedness for the war on terror, in part due to an obsessive focus on Iraq. The basic conservative line is that Clarke is just a disgruntled ex-bureaucrat who's hawking a book.
So what's my take?
1) Richard Clarke is no Paul O'Neill. Back in January I pointed out the flaws of Paul O'Neill as a messenger on Iraq. Clarke is a different story. This guy managed to work at a high level at the National Security Council for three different administrations. This is highly unusual -- most NSC staffers are either political appointments who leave with a departing administration or career bureaucrats who cycle out of State, DoD, or the intelligence community for a two-year stint.
What does it mean that Clarke was able to hang around so long? It means two things. First, he was very capable at his job, in a way that O'Neill wasn't. Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said on 60 Minutes that:
Ryan Lizza adds, "this White House has never been confronted with such a credible and nonpartisan critic on the issue of terrorism."
Second, he was extremely skilled in the art of bureaucratic politics. One official who saw Clarke in action -- and has no love for this administration -- described him to me as "smart, conservative, dedicated, insecure, and vindictive." I've heard stories from both friends and foes of Clarke, and they have one common thread -- you did not want this man for an enemy. He knows how to retaliate. [UPDATE: check out Fred Kaplan's sidebar and main story in Slate about Clarke for examples.]
So, when the Bush team decided to jettison Clarke sometime after 9/11, they made an enemy out of Clarke. And they're paying for that now.
So, does Clarke have a personal incentive to stick it to this administration? Absolutely. Does he know what he's talking about? Absolutely. Can what he says can be ignored? Absolutely not.
2) The administration ain't helping its own cause. Ryan Lizza has a fine rundown of the different lines of attack levied against Clarke in the 48 hours since this story went live. They range from the plausible (Clarke was obsessed with process and not outcome) to the implausible (Cheney's implication that Clarke was out of the loop prior to 9/11). They also contradict each other at times. The fact that both Rice and Cheney have addressed this head-on demonstrates, in Kevin Drum's language, that "the White House is sure acting like they have the potential to do some serious damage."
3) The administration could help its own cause. Stephen Hayes points out in the Weekly Standard that Clarke does come off as biased in throttling the Bush administration for apparent lassitude while the Clinton administration seems to gets a free pass:
It's worth remembering that every new administration needs about six months to work out the foreign policy kinks -- flash back to the Clinton team's firxt six months if you think this is a recent problem. To claim that they were slow to move on Al Qaeda misses the point -- unless it was a campaign issue, every new administration is slow to move on every policy dimension.
Furthermore, as the Washington Post reports, in the end the administration did get this one right, in the form of a September 10, 2001 deputies meeting that agreed upon a three-part, three-year strategy to eject Al Qaeda from Afghanistan. For all of Clarke's accusations about the Bush team's neglect, it's hard to see how things would have changed if this decision had been made a few months earlier. Post-9/11, for all of Clarke's claims about intimidation to show Iraq caused 9/11, the policy outcome was that we ejected the Taliban from Afghanistan. Iraq was put on the back burner. I'm someone who's been less than thrilled with Bush's management of foreign policy. Some of what Clarke says disturbs me, particularly about homeland security. But for this case, it does look like the system worked.
The best thing for this administration is to say in response to Clarke would be: "Yes, if we could turn back time, we'd have given AQ more consideration. But it probably would not have prevented 9/11. And don't claim that we could solve a problem in eight months that the last team -- in which Clarke was the lead on this policy front -- couldn't solve over eight years."
4) There is a deeper policy split at work. Rational Bush opponents are happy to see Saddam gone but do not see any connection between the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror. Rational Bush supporters will acknowledge that at best there was a loose connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but that remaking Iraq is a vital part of the war on terror because it will help to remake the Middle East, terrorism's primary source.
David Frum writes:
I'm not completely convinced that Frum is being fair to Clarke, but the comment raises an interesting parallel between current debates over how to wage the war on terror and previous debates over how to contain the Soviet Union.
55 years ago, George Kennan and Paul Nitze had different positions on how to wage a containment policy, with Nitze taking a much more aggressive posture in NSC-68 than Kennan did in "The Sources of Soviet Conduct." I'm not sure that it's ever been decided which position was right. The same will likely be true of current debates.
A query to those worried about outsourcing
The lion's share of the critical feedback I've received from "The Outsourcing Bogeyman" essay has been targeted at my claims about the IT sector. I'm supposedly wrong on the IT side of the equation, and therefore better-paying jobs will follow lower-paying jobs overseas.
What's interesting is that I haven't heard much discussion about either the manufacturing part of the story or the business processes part of the story. Does this mean people are willing to acknowledge that these are sectors where standard trade theory apply?
[Now you're just goading your critics--ed. No, just curious -- plus, it might make a good article about public perceptions of economics.]
Monday, March 22, 2004
Critiquing one critique
Scott Kirwin posts his critique on why I’m wrong on outsourcing. It boils down to:
However, it’s worth pointing out that the current direction of capital flows bears no resemblance to what either Roberts or Kirwin fear. The U.S. currently runs a massive capital account surplus, which finances both our budget and trade deficits. When restricted to foreign direct investment, the overwhelming majority of U.S. outrward FDI goes to other OECD countries. This objection is the reddest of red herrings.
On relying too much on MGI data because they’re big into outsourcing – hey, I’ll relinquish MGI data if Kirwin and others renounce the use of data from Gartner, Forrester, Deloitte, etc. [You're being flippant!--ed. Here's a more substantive response.] All of these firms are equally into outsourcing but still put up overhyped guesstimates about projected job losses. As I pointed in the Foreign Affairs article, these firms also have a strong incentive make outsourcing a business fad. Think their job loss numbers might be exaggerated a tad?
On the future of better-paying jobs, Jacob Kirkegaard of the Institute for International Economics points out that the Forrester study that got everyone hyperventilating in the first place points out that most jobs projected to be lost are below the US average wage.
Certainly the data to date don’t support Kirwin at all. According to Kirkegaard:
Statebuilding proceeds in Iraq
The Washington Post reports on an imminent deal to disarm the two big militias remaining in Iraq. The key parts:
Open Yassin thread
Comment on the missile strike that killed Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin here.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
The outsourcing bogeyman
Regular readers might have noticed that I was focusing a bit on offshore outsourcing recently. There's only so much one can say about the topic in a blog post, however, so I figured, what the heck, let's turn it into a paper:
Here's a link to the bibliography and footnotes, but you should comment on the piece here.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Open Al Qaeda thread
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Blogging will be intermittent at best for the rest of this week, as I'll be at the International Studies Association annual meeting in Montreal. Weather aside, I've never been to the city and I've heard from reliable sources that it's a great town.
Don't worry, however -- within the next 24 hours, I will be posting something that should prompt a fair amount of conversation (cue enigmatic smile).
UPDATE: OK, it might be 48 hours.
I'll have my coffee extra bitter, please
Brad Delong writes:
Yes, spring is coming!! Oh, wait....
Even better -- I'm departing for Montreal later today!!
Damn you DeLong!! Damn you to hell!!
The lack of correlation between jobs and trade
Brink Lindsey has a policy brief on the relationship between employment and trade over the past few years, particularly in the manufacturing sector. From the abstract:
Read the whole thing.
Iran in turmoil?
Well, don't I feel like the perfect fool.
We'll see where this leads. One wonders whether the complete impotence of "reformers" in the government triggered this outbreak.
I would love for this to pan out -- but I have every confidence that the hardliners are prepared to be as brutal as necessary to stay in power.
I really hope my confidence is misplaced.
Should there be a "grand bargain" with Iran?
Here's my question -- should this deal have been made back in May? Should it be made now?
Note that the FT story makes it clear that the quid pro quo required the US to give the Iranian regime a partial pass on human rights. On the other hand, that's also not part of the Libya deal either. One could argue that Iran's record of prior bad acts raises the bar for trusting them. On the other hand, Libya tried to acquire WMD capabilities while the negotiations with the US and UK were taking place.
My initial take -- the deal should have been cut, and probably should still be cut. I say this fully aware that such a deal would be detrimental to the short-term advancement of human rights in Iran.
The top priorities of the administration are the war on terror and remaking the Middle East. Iran's cooperation on the terror front would have been pretty easy to measure (making the deal easy to revoke if Iran failled to follow through), and an unambiguously good thing if Iran had followed through. The downside would have been giving the Iranian hardliners a freer hand in cracking down -- but it's not as if not making the deal has improved matters. Furthermore, if the deal increases Iraqi stability, then it improves the odds of Iraq democracy, which would have a powerful demonstration effect.
I'm perfectly willing to entertain counterarguments.
One final thought -- the deal is still out there. Should it be taken now?
UPDATE: Lots of good feedback, mostly centered on a) whether Iran would live up to its side of the bargain, and b) what this would mean to Iran's citizenry.
My arguments in favor rested on the notion that a) The Iranian government lived up to its bargain, and b) Our current policy of "regime change" via isolation and browbeating was not working (though check out my next post). Furthermore, cooperation on terrorism, WMD proliferation, and Iraqi stability cannot be lightly dismissed -- though I agree that there would need to be tangible metrics to ensure Iranian compliance.
Furthermore, in terms of policy consistency, why would it be OK to cut a deal with Libya and not Iran? Roger L. Simon [who y'all should read] says that it's a question of magnitude -- Iran is bigger and more important than Libya.
Fair enough -- but my question would be whether the demonstration effect of a more stable and democratic Iraq on the Irania population outweighs whatever direct effect U.S. condemnation has on the stability of the Iranian regime.
Why Bill James is not an economist
Bill James, the godfather of baseball sabermetrics, is now working as a consultant for the Boston Red Sox. Of course, it's only recently that James' pioneering idea of using statistical analysis to determine what causes a baseball team to win games has been accepted.
Before that, he had an interesting set of careers, as he told mlb.com:
As someone who also started out in economics, but found politics more interesting, I can certainly understand.
UPDATE: On a loosely related topic, David Pinto has an interesting guest essay by Glenn Berggoetz and Jeff McBride arguing that contra conventional wisdom, ex-catchers make lousy managers.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Reflection on Spain and Al Qaeda
The New York Times has two very good op-eds about the implication of the 3/11 bonbings and subsequent Spanish elections. Edward Luttwak shows it's possible to simultaneously disagree with the war in Iraq and disagree with the Spanish socialists:
This was Fareed Zakaria's point in the Sunday Washington Post as well (link via Virginia Postrel):
Meanwhile, Scott Atran picks up on the evolution of the relationship between Al Qaeda and local terrorist groups in the other op-ed. The highlights:
This makes sense. Terrorist attacks conducted by Al Qaeda proper have usually been targeted at highly symbolic targets -- luxury hotels, embassies, the Pentagon, the WTC, etc. They're not averse to killing large numbers of civilians, but they prefer doing it while destroying important symbols of political, economic and military power. The Madrid bombing was not like that -- hence, it's likely that the operation, while perhaps sponsored by AQ, was not implemented by them.
UPDATE: This commentor makes a good point: "I wonder if what's happened is that AQ or its franchisees have moved from targeting physical symbols such as hotels and embassies to also targeting more nebulous symbols, such as the elections themselves."
Thanks, but no thanks
The bad news -- According to this ranking system, David Brooks comes in at #20, Tom Friedman comes in at #40, David Broder at #57, and George Will at #172. Fareed Zakaria is not among the top 200.
In other words, I'm fairly certain that the methodology used to compile this list is horses--t. [What if you're wrong?--ed. Then I'll magnanimously offer to trade places with Tom, Fareed, George, or either David -- because I'm that kind of guy.]
UPDATE: After informing my lovely wife Erika of this ranking page, she queried, "I didn't know your Mom had a web site."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kudos to Philippe Lourier for responding to semi-constructive criticism and taking the responses in stride.
Monday, March 15, 2004
Productivity, outsourcing, and employment
Business Week has a cover story on the mystery of low job growth in the United States. Some of the highlights:
Given that Forrester's estimates on the effect of outsourcing on the American economy have been at the high end of this debate, this should be treated as an upper bound estimate. This USA Today editorial -- the contents of which are otherwise none too friendly to business -- says, "Many economists estimate that only about 1 in 100 layoffs are caused by outsourcing. By contrast, the bulk of job losses stem from domestic factors. (emphasis added)" Back-of-the-envelope calculations would imply that only 27,000 gross jobs (as opposed to net) have been lost due to offshore outsourcing. Which would be the lower bound estimate.
Technological innovation is responsible for the vast improvements in labor productivity, which explains the combination of seemingly robust economic growth and seemingly weak job growth. One wonders whether this will foster the the rise of a neo-Luddite movement in the United States.
UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe the USA Today figure was not a lower bound. This Economist story says:
Remember, this is for posterity....
In the final month before I handed in my dissertation, I was working in my office at Stanford when the fire alarm went off. I gathered my things to leave the room, including my laptop with the digital version of the dissertation (during grad school, that laptop was rarely more than ten feet away from me). Leaving the building, I was surprised to see that there was an actual fire in the building? My first reaction? "Thank God I got the dissertation out. Even if something had happened to me, at least my work would survive!"
This is how academics think -- will their work live on?
Today I received an e-mail stating that: "The Library has selected your site for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials."
What does this mean? Practically speaking, it means the following:
Well, I do share that vision, but my reader-commentors may not. So consider this a public service notice -- your comments are being recorded for posterity.
Think about it -- decades or centuries from now, some struggling graduate student may be reading some of this.
That poor, pathetic soul.
Did Al Qaeda knowingly influence Spain's election?
In the aftermath of the Socialist Party's victory in Spain's national elections -- after trailing in most polls to the People's party before last week's Madrid bombings -- what does it all mean? Is this a harbinger of Al Qaeda's ability to influence European voters? Was the electoral outcome what Al Qaeda intended?
Andrew Sullivan believes the answers to both questions are yes:
Matthew Yglesias is not so sure about either proposition:
I'm on the fence on this issue. The fact is, authoritarian/totalitarian actors have had a pretty lousy record at consciously influencing democratic elections in other countries. That said, it seems difficult not to believe that AQ got what it wanted from this attack.
FINAL UPDATE: This story would seem to vitiate Yglesias' argument.
That cursed affluence
Robert Samuelson's latest Newsweek column argues that America's obesity "crisis" is an ailment of affluence. The interesting grafs:
Read the entire piece.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
More on Madrid
Newsday reports that a videotape has been found:
The loose affiliation between a Moroccan terrorist group and Al Qaeda would not be shocking. Earlier this week I heard Daniel Byman present a World Politics review essay entitled "Al Qaeda as an Adversary: Do We Understand Our Enemy?" in which he suggested that Al Qaeda was willing to fund regional and/or national terrorist groups with material support and training as a way of advancing its "brand" as it were.
Friday, March 12, 2004
An outsourcing bibliography
Welcome, Foreign Affairs readers! If you want to comment on the essay, please go to this blog entry. If you're reading this it means you want to know where all the facts, figures, and quotations from "The Outsourcing Bogeyman" came from. I don't blame you -- as an academic, I'm leery of publishing an essay without the proper acknowledgments and citations.
Bruce Bartlett and Sreenath Sreenivasan provided useful and informative links to the outsourcing phenomenon. Many thanks to Virginia Postrel, Sebastian Rosato, and Nick Schulz for reading draft versions of the article and providing trenchant feedback. I am also grateful to Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Gideon Rose, and James F. Hoge, Jr. at Foreign Affairs for their sage advice during the drafting process. Through their links and commentary, Tyler Cowen, Brad DeLong, Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, and especially Virginia Postrel made the writing of this essay considerably easier.
A crude version of this paper was delivered -- crudely -- to my American Foreign Economic Policy class a few weeks ago (amusing side note: I had planned to give a lecture on the topic when I drafted the syllabus back in November. The week I wound up delivering it was coincidentally the same week outsourcing was the cover story of Economist, Time, Business Week and Wired. The students were very impressed with the topicality). They provided me with excellent feedback. And finally, lots of blog readers posted their own comments in response to my myriad posts on the subject. Agree or disagree, their feedback helped me to figure out how best to frame my arguments.
Sources for quotations:
Mankiw's comments come from Warren Vieth and Edwin Chen, “Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas,” Los Angeles Times, 10 February 2004. Reaction comments from Edmund Andrews, “Democrats Criticize Bush Over Job Exports,” New York Times, 11 February 2004. I posted about this here.
Stephen Roach's comment comes from "Debating the Jobless Recovery" on the Morgan Stanley web site. It should be noted that Roach is hardly an advocate of protectionism.
The IBM official was quoted in Bob Herbert, “White-Collar Blues,” New York Times, 29 December 2003. Nilekani was quoted in Steve Lohr, “Many New Causes for Old Problem of Jobs Lost Abroad,” New York Times, 15 February 2004. Fiorina's statement came from Carolyn Lochhead, “Economists Back Tech Industry’s Overseas Hiring,” San Francisco Chronicle, 9 January 2004.
The billboard quotation came from Elizabeth Becker, “Globalism Minus Jobs Equals Campaign Issue,” New York Times, 30 January 2004. Kerry's line about "Benedict Arnold CEO's" has been everywhere, but here's James K. Glassman's use of it.
Tom Daschle's later quote comes from Ted Landphair, “Outsourcing, Costly for US Workers, an Issue in Election Year,” Voice of America, 7 February 2004. Robert McTeer's very funny line comes from “Delta Air, General Electric Say Creating Jobs Abroad Helps U.S.,” Bloomberg, 23 February 2004. The Bloomberg story was also the source of information regarding how Delta Air Lines was able to create additional American jobs via offshore outsourcing.
While not a quote, the Commerce Department report I referenced is Raymond J. Mataloni, Jr., “U.S. Multinational Companies: Operations in 2001,” Survey of Current Business, November 2003. The relevant passage is on p. 89.
Sources for numbers:
Many of the sources can be found in the general references below. For the plethora of job loss projections, I relied on Clay Risen's “Missed Target," The New Republic, 2 February 2004; and CIO Magazine, “Offshore Outsourcing – The Backlash,” September 2003.
On the gap between Gartner's estimation of firm-specific job losses due to outsourcing versus Joglekar's estimates, see Thomas Hoffman, “Researcher Says Offshore Moves Don’t Leave to Big U.S. Job Losses,” ComputerWorld, 22 December 2003. Professor Joglekar was also kind enough to speak to me by phone -- I wish more of what he said could have fit into the final version of the essay.
On the overestimation of call center outsourcing, see Dick O’Brien, “Outsourcing threat is overstated,” ElectronicNews.Net, 26 January 2004. The TPI estimates came from this press release and this report comparing European and American outsourcing trends. See also Justin Pope, "Some Managers Hold Firm Against Pressure to Move IT Jobs Overseas," Associated Press, 1 February 2004.
The effect of sugar tariffs on jobs come from Aaron Lukas, “A Sticky State of Affairs: Sugar and the U.S. Australia Free-Trade Agreement,” Center for Trade Policy Studies, 9 February 2004. The total effect of steel tariffs on jobs was calculated based on annual costs projected in Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Ben Goodrich, “Next Move in Steel: Revocation or Retaliation,” Institute for International Economics Policy Brief 03-10, October 2003, p. 10.
IBM's fund for displaced workers can be read about in Stacy Cowley, “IBM Starts Fund to Aid Displaced Workers,” ComputerWorld, 2 March 2004.
The data on manufacturing output and employment can be found in this Alliance Capital Management report.
Data on insourcing comes from Michael Walden, “A Potent ‘Insource’ of U.S. Jobs,” Raleigh News and Observer, 2 February 2004, Lawrence Kudlow, "Outsourcing ‘Outrage,’" New York Post, 3 March 2004, as well as the Commerce Department.
Facts about the trade adjustment assistance program can be accessed at the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration Fact Sheet.
General references on outsourcing:
Space constraints made it difficult to cite them in the piece, but two worthwhile sources are Sreenath Sreenivasan's outsourcing page, which has tons of links, and Alan Greenspan's recent speeches and testimony that touch on the subject -- here, here, and here. Brink Lindsey has just written a policy brief, "Job Losses and Trade: A Reality Check," that's worth checking out. Finally, you can access all of my blog posts about outsourcing -- if you've read through the Foreign Affairs essay, several of them will look familiar.
Otherwise, here are the most in-depth treatments of the subject that I've seen:
International Data Corporation, Offshore Services: The Impact of Global Sourcing on the U.S. IT Services Market, November 2003.
Catherine Mann, “Globalization of IT Services and White Collar Jobs: The Next Wave of Productivity Growth,” Institute for International Economics Policy Brief 03-11, Washington, DC, December 2003
Jacob F. Kirkegaard, “Outsourcing – Stains on the White Collar?” Institute for International Economics working paper, January 2004
McKinsey Global Institute, “Offshoring: Is It a Win-Win Game?” San Francisco, CA, August 2003
Rafiq Dossani and Martin Kenney, “Went for Cost, Stayed for Quality?: Moving the Back Office to India,” working paper, Stanford University Asia/Pacific Research Center, November 2003
Ashok Bardham and Cynthia Kroll, “The New Wave of Outsourcing,” Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, University of California At Berkeley, November 2003
Erica Groshen and Simon Potter, “Has Structural Change Contributed to a Jobless Recovery?” Current Issues in Economics and Finance 9 (August 2003): 1-7
Jyotti Thottam, "Is Your Job Going Abroad?" Time, 22 February 2004.
Gene Grossman and Elhanen Helpman, "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," NBER Working Paper No. w8728, January 2002.
Daniel Pink, “The New Face of the Silicon Age,” Wired, February 2004
General references on globalization and the U.S. economy:
Douglas Irwin, Free Trade Under Fire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales, Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists (New York: Crown Business, 2003).
Kenneth Dam, The Rules of the Global Game: A New Look at U.S. International Economic Policymaking (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).
Kenneth Scheve and Matthew Slaughter, Globalization and the Perceptions of American Workers (Washington: Institute for International Economics, 2001).
Consumer-driven offshore outsourcing
A common meme from those who blast offshore outsourcing is that it's driven by rapacious firms eager to maximize short-term profits. This raises an interesting question -- what if consumers are the ones driving offshoring?
CBS Market Watch has a story on this as well.
A question to those who oppose offshore outsourcing -- should this expansion of consumer choice be banned or restricted?
If so, what other limitations should be placed so this sort of thing doesn't happen? Eliminate Wal-Marts? Japanese auto imports?
In other words, to what extent is the outcry over outsourcing a slippery slope to policies designed to block all forms of trade and technological innovation?
UPDATE: This story talks about how other firms are dealing with the offshoring phenomenon in their marketing strategies. Key line: "'No outsourcing' could become the latest twist on the 'made in the USA' slogan."
Just to be clear, even though I've defended offshore outsourcing as a good thing, I have no problem whatsoever with this kind of marketing strategy. If consumers prefer to pay higher prices in return for the satisfaction of buying American, that's fine. Consumer choice should not be restricted in either way.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Open Spain thread
Not surprisingly, Glenn Reynolds has a link-rich post.
Is "Islamic liberal democracy" an unholy trinity?
Lee Smith has an provocative Slate essay on what Islamists are talking about when they talk about democracy. Among the highlights:
Later on in the essay, Smith acknowledges that Islamists who actually understand/support what constitutes a liberal democracy may not say so publicly:
So the $64,000 question -- what does Grand Ayatollah Sistani -- may be impossible to ferret out.
Blogs, politics, and gender
Henry Farrell argues that during the current campaign season, blogs will funnel more money to Democrats than Republicans. His reasoning:
Meanwhile, the political part blogosphere apparently does share one common trait -- gender. Brian Montopoli at CJR's Campaign Desk writes:
Just for the record, I was not part of the chess club when I was in high school -- my captaincy of the math team took up far too much of my time.
More seriously, Montopoli seems to go a bit off the rails at the end:
(link via here).
A follow-up question -- what about the readers of political blogs? Do they skew disproportionately male as well? That seems to be the (unfortunate) case among my commenters. [Maybe that's because they don't like posts like this one?--ed. I'll grant that as a possibility -- but I have yet to receive a single complaint on that front.]
Let me know what you think.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Gonna be an exhausting campaign
Kevin Drum has a great post up delineating the barbs and counter-barbs between the Bush and Kerry campaigns since Super Tuesday made Kerry the de facto nominee. There's been a fair amount of cross-fire for one week -- and reading between the lines, Kevin already seems exhausted by the campaign.
This leads me to wonder how the Feiler Faster Thesis will operate with eight months to go in this campaign. The thesis, to reiterate, is:
Feiler's implication is that campaigns will have constant twists and turns. There's another possibility, however -- if there are no external motivations for changes in strategy, voters could get bored fast.
That may be the case here. According to USA Today, the extent of party polarization in this election is at a historic high (however, as Eric Weiner points out in the Los Angeles Times, America is actually not politically polarized compared to other countries). The extent of polarization means there's a low probabilty of public opinion dramatically shifting one way or the other. Given that the two candidates are pretty close in terms of support, and the stability of that support, there may be no change in the relative position of the candidates for quite some time. Which means there's no incentive to change strategies for the near future.
Which means the campaign could get old fast.
I stress "may" because there are always exogenous shocks to the political system, so in all likelihood this situation won't last for 8 months. However, the Feiler Faster Thesis suggests that it will feel like eight months.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Josh Marshall advances the "exhaustion" meme.
The winners and losers in the current economy
The Heritage Foundation's Alison Fraser and Rea S. Hederman, Jr have a concise summary of who's benefiting and who's not in the current American economy. The key section:
So the sector that is supposedly most vulnerable to job loss from offshore outsourcing has actually created a significant number of jobs over the past year, when outsourcing was supposedly at its worst.
Bush defends trade -- Kerry defends reviewing trade
Brad DeLong is mostly correct in pointing out that the Bush administration has not been the most vigorous defender of open trade policies since the outsourcing brouhaha bubbled up. However, President Bush has apparently decided get off the fence and put the administration on the rhetorical offensive in reaction to Congressional moves to penalize corporations for offshore outsourcing. According to the Financial Times:
Here's a link to the entire text of the speech.
As part of the offensive, Zoellick's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee contains this opening:
Meanwhile, one of John Kerry's pledges on trade policy is as follows:
Looks like he'll be getting part of his agenda implemented through the help of Senate colleagues and the General Accounting Office:
Tuesday, March 9, 2004
A Syrian human rights protest
The New York Times reports that there was a human rights protest in a place where neither human rights nor protests are all that common -- Syria:
In addition to that, a U.S. diplomat was detained by Syrian security officials for an hour, prompting a vigorous protest from the United States.
Although security officials clamped down on the protest pretty much before it started, its organizer was released, because he gave an interview to the Associated Press after the protest. He sounds undaunted:
Monday, March 8, 2004
Kenneth Rogoff tests the Nixon analogy
Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard -- and chief economist at the IMF from 2001 to 2003 -- has an amusing article in Foreign Policy on whether, when it comes to spending, Bush really is as bad as Nixon when it comes to domestic spending. His conclusion -- "Overall winner: Nixon—although Bush has eight months left."
He also makes the point that compared to the rest of the world, U.S. presidents seeking re-election are misers:
Go read the whole thing -- it's a nice primer on the political business cycle.
Jon Rauch on gay marriage
My previous post on gay marriage generated a fair amount of discussion pro and con. So, for those still interested in the issue, check out Jonathan Rauch's affecting New York Times Magazine essay on the subject. The most compelling section:
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen offers an economic rationale for gay marriages -- more money spent on weddings!
This reminds me of a moment when this issue flared up in the mid-nineties. I was watching a Sunday morning talk show with a gay friend. At one point she yelled at the television: "I don't want to overthrow the government!! I don't want to corrupt your children!! I just want to be able to register at Crate & Barrel!!"
Bad news for sci-fi geeks?
Maureen Ryan has a long story in today's Tempo section of the Chicago Tribune arguing that the big-screen success of Lord of the Rings will not translate into more sci-fi on television:
Read the entire thing -- it's a nice bashing of the proliferation of reality shows and Law & Order clones.
That said, two quibbles. First, as someone whose sci-fi enthusiasm is actually pretty erratic, was there ever a golden age of sci-fi on television?
Second, if there has been such a decline, could it also be explained by the improvement in big-screen special effects, which increases the incentive to produce sci-fi movies but reduces the incentive to create poor substitutes for the small screen? In other words, big-screen successes like LOTR are not complements for small-screen sci-fi, but substitutes.
Sunday, March 7, 2004
The decline and fall of Islamic extremism?
If this effort pans out, it would certainly constitute another blow to Al Qaeda.
Is this true in Saudi Arabia, where the difference between Wahabbi fundamentalism and official Saudi policy is tissue-thin? Both the Economist and the New York Times Magazine have stories on that country's internal debate about its religious and political future. The latter story has this to say about the Saudi state:
The Economist concludes that there is some reason for hope:
How conservative is Bush? How liberal is Kerry?
Northwestern University political scientists Jeffrey A. Jenkins has an interesting essay in today's Chicago Tribune on where George W. Bush and John Kerry stand in the political spectrum, using standard methods in the study of American political science:
For an introduction to the methodology Jenkins used for this op-ed, click here.
UPDATE: James Joyner provides a cogent critique of the Poole-Rosenthal method for determining ideological position:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Lawrence has further thoughts on methodology. And Jenkins responds by posting comments here, here, and here. One point is particularly interesting -- Poole and Rosenthal used the early 1990's Kerry as an example of their methodology in their 1997 book Congress: A Political Economic History of Roll Call Voting. Kerry came out as quite liberal. What happened?:
Friday, March 5, 2004
Insert your own EU joke here
According to the Financial Times, many citizens of the new European Union entrants literally cannot understand the acquis communautaire:
A message from the editors at Foreign Policy
The managing editor of Foreign Policy sent me an e-mail yesterday regarding the Huntington kerfuffle. I just wanted to pass this part of the message along to the myriad contributors to danieldrezner.com's discussion threads:
Savor the praise.
What to read about jobs in the U.S. economy
The February employment data could have been better:
The Chicago Tribune also has economic gloom on today's front page:
Here's a link to the EPI report upon which the Trib story is based.
This is not going to look great for President Bush. However, Noam Scheiber -- hardly a Bush fan -- points out that it would be unfair to blame Bush for the current sluggishness in job growth:
Finally, the continuing battle over the validity of the household survey for measuring jobs versus the payroll suvery for measuring jobs continues. According to the payroll survey, 716,000 jobs have been lost since the recession ended in November 2001; according to the household survey, 2.2 million jobs have been created.
The conventional wisdom among economists is that the payroll survey is the more reliable of the two in terms of measuring jobs. EPI's Elise Gould does a fine job of summarizing the arguments in favor of relying on the payroll survey.
Go check everything out.
Thursday, March 4, 2004
More feedback on Huntington
Just to reiterate -- I didn't say that Mexico was redefining itself as a North American country, though I believe this to be true. My point in the TNR essay was that Huntington thought this was true when he wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order eight years ago.
In closing, here's an e-mail response to the TNR essay that I've received [No fair!! This is just a single anecdota!--ed. If Huntington can quote a guy talking to Robert Kaplan, I can use this.]:
Wednesday, March 3, 2004
March Books of the Month
Given February's elevation of trade questions to the forefront of political debate, both of this month's books are devoted to the topic -- from slightly different directions.
In the United States, arguments against the merits of free trade and investment tend to fluctuate with the business cycle. When growth is robust and times are good, the arguments made against globalization are non-economic: it deteriorates labor and environmental standards in other countries, it leads to cultural homogenization, yada, yada, yada. When growth is weak and times look uncertain, the arguments made against globalization are pitched to appeal to material self-interest: free trade causes unemployment, America is losing its "competitive advantage," yada, yada, yada.
This month's two books address divide their labor in terms of defending the merits of free trade. Douglas Irwin's Free Trade Under Fire does an excellent job of demolishing the recession-based arguments made against free trade, while assembling all of the arguments and evidence for why trade is a win-win proposition.
As for flush times, Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization marshalls considerable evidence that globalization does not need a human face because it already has a human face. By lifting people out of poverty, globalization is a cure for many social ills.
Go check them out.
Challenging the Hispanic Challenge
Here's a link to Samuel Huntington's essay "The Hispanic Challenge"; you can purchase and advance copy of Who We Are here. If you study political science and don't have either Political Order in Changing Societies or The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, you should. The quotations in Clash in the essay come from pages 150 and 136 respectively.
For a lovely biographical essay of Huntington, you could do far worse than Robert D. Kaplan's December 2001 Atlantic Monthly essay.
For an excellent, dispassionate look at how the 19th century version of globalization affected the United States, see Kevin O'Rourke and Jeffrey Williamson's Globalization and History
David Brooks' New York Times column from last Tuesday on Huntington provided the 60% figure on English-speaking habits among third-generation Hispanic Americans.
I've disagreed with Huntington before -- see my review of The Clash of Civilizations in The Washington Quarterly here.
The Franklin and Schlesinger quotes come from Schlesinger's July 1921 American Journal of Sociology fascinating essay, "The Significance of Immigration in American History." Some of you can access this on JSTOR. Frankin is quoted on p. 74; Schlesinger's quote comes from p. 83 of the article.
The Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at the University of Albany is doing fascinating things with Census data on Hispanics. The report that's directly quoted can be found here, but check out this one on how race factors into the equation as well. I am exceedingly grateful to Robert Tagorda for posting about it.
For an economic analysis of the immigration question, chapter 15 of Kenneth Dam's The Rules of the Global Game is an excellent starting point.
Final effort towards full disclosure -- Huntington, in addition to founding Foreign Policy, also founded the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. During the 1996-97 academic year, I was fortunate enough to be a post-doctoral fellow at that institute.
Remember last week when I said about Samuel Huntington's new essay that, "I think he's wrong now. I'll be posting much more about this later."?
Those five of you waiting on pins and needles will finally be sated. Huntington's essay is the topic of my latest TNR Online essay. Go check it out.
Tuesday, March 2, 2004
Stacking the deck on science
I've been remiss in not commenting on the administration decision to change the composition of the Bioethics Advisory Council. I've certainly been remiss in linking to Jacob Levy's dissection of these changes. And I've been really remiss in not linking to Glenn Reynolds' Tech Central Station analysis, since he uses Carmen Electra as a metaphor.
Glenn has a further roundup of reaction here (As you would expect, Virginia Postrel is less than thrilled). Even Ramesh Ponnuru, who agrees with the administration, think this was a political screw-up.
The Institute for Supply Management issued their February report. Here's the highlights from Fox News:
One source of increasing manufacturing employment will come from Japanese auto firms, according to the Chicago Tribune:
[Must be because their productivity is lower and therefore they need to hire more workers--ed.] Actually, the reverse is true:
A new source for offshore outsourcing
Sreenath Sreenivasan, an associate professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, has set up an ousourcing page with tons of links. Go check it out and see which fact/story you think is the most interesting.
My winner is this story by Sreenivasan about what piqued media interest in the offshoring phenomenon:
Alas, this confirms what I wrote here about the Reuters story.
This piece of information is also interesting:
Monday, March 1, 2004
Haiti and drugs
Yesterday the Chicago Tribune had a front-page story illustrating the difficulty of dealing with either the government or the rebels on this issue. The highlights:
Read the whole thing.