Predictions

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
predictions, studies, tpp


Yet More TPP Studies Predict Slim Economic Gains, Highlight Dubious Underlying Assumptions

from the another-reason-we-need-negotiating-texts-published-early dept

It's striking that from a situation where there were very few studies of the likely effects of the TPP agreement, we've moved to one where they are appearing almost every week. Recently Techdirt wrote about a World Bank study, and one from Tufts University; now we have one from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which calls itself "a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy." Here's its summary of the results:

The new estimates suggest that the TPP will increase annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion, or 0.5 percent of GDP, and annual exports by $357 billion, or 9.1 percent of exports, over baseline projections by 2030, when the agreement is nearly fully implemented. Annual income gains by 2030 will be $492 billion for the world. While the United States will be the largest beneficiary of the TPP in absolute terms, the agreement will generate substantial gains for Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam as well, and solid benefits for other members. The agreement will raise US wages but is not projected to change US employment levels; it will slightly increase "job churn" (movements of jobs between firms) and impose adjustment costs on some workers.
That figure of 0.5% cumulative GDP gain by 2030 is in line with the other studies discussed previously here on Techdirt. But there are various issues with both that figure and the study itself, which are highlighted by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in a post on Medium. One of the most serious is something we've noted before: despite attempts to present them as otherwise, the predicted gains are extremely small. Baker explains this well:
The study's projection of a cumulative gain to GDP of 0.5 percent by 2030 implies an increase in the annual growth rate of 0.036 percentage points. This means that if the economy was projected to grow by 2.2 percent a year in a baseline scenario, it will instead grow at a 2.236 percent rate with the TPP, assuming the Peterson Institute projections prove correct.

The projections imply that, as a result of the TPP, the country will be as rich on January 1, 2030 as it would otherwise be on April 1, 2030.
Then there's the matter of the econometric modelling technique adopted. The Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) analysis employed by the Peterson Institute makes some very big assumptions:
The model assumes that the TPP will affect neither total employment nor the national savings (or equivalently trade balances) of countries. This "macroeconomic closure" assumption allows modern trade models to focus on the goals of trade policy -- namely sustained productivity and wage increases through changes in trade patterns and industry output levels. With minor variations, the assumption is used in most applied models of trade agreements.
That means -- by definition -- these CGE models can tell us nothing about the effects of TPP on employment, and assume that no jobs are lost or gained overall. Baker points out another major consequence of this approach:
by design the model assumes that trade balance for the United States is not changed as a result of the TPP. This means that whatever changes we see in exports, according to the model, will be matched by an equal change in imports.
As a result, the predicted boost of $357 billion to US exports thanks to TPP is matched by a balancing boost of $357 billion to imports as well. Baker also offers an explanation of why the CGE model makes its rather surprising view on employment:
In prior decades most economists were comfortable with this sort of full employment assumption since it was widely believed that economies quickly bounced back from recessions or periods of less than full employment. In this view, if a trade agreement led to a larger trade deficit it would soon be offset by lower interest rates, which would provide a boost to investment and consumption.
However:
in the wake of the 2008 crash, fewer economists now believe that the economy has a natural tendency back to full employment. Many of the world's most prominent economists (e.g. Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, Olivier Blanchard) now accept the idea of "secular stagnation." This means that economies really can suffer from long periods of inadequate demand.
That risk is one key reason why the lack of currency controls in TPP is a big problem:
if one or more of the countries in the TPP began running larger trade surpluses with the United States, and then bought up large amounts of dollars to prevent an adjustment of their currency, there is nothing the United States could do within the terms of the agreement.
Another analysis of TPP comes from a very different quarter: the New Zealand government, as part of the formal process of ratifying the treaty. Even though the document runs to 279 pages (pdf), relatively few of them are devoted to how the modelling results were obtained, and how plausible they might be. The independent team behind a new "expert paper", part of a series exploring many aspects of TPP from a New Zealand viewpoint, was not impressed by what it found there (pdf):
[The writers in the expert group] found that the standard of documentation of the modelling is dreadfully inadequate -- just 20 pages of text in the published report. The authors [of the New Zealand government report] should have chosen, or been asked to present, a much weightier and more detailed account of every facet of the data, assumptions, modelling and results.
Not only is the methodology poorly explained, but the results are underwhelming too. The official predictions of economic gains for New Zealand are summarized as follows by the team of economists:
The government has used modelling to derive estimates of the economic benefit for New Zealand and estimated an increase in real GDP of 0.9% by 2030 or $2.7 billion annually. The increase is modest. A continuation of currently forecast levels of growth would mean that NZ GDP would be 47% higher by 2030 without TPPA, versus 47.9% with TPPA.
The expert group are even more scathing about the way in which the supposed benefits of removing "non-tariff barriers" (NTBs) have been included:
The government's analysis estimated that reducing NTBs would account for $1.7 billion of the $2.7 billion estimate for gains from the TPPA. The modelling is not specific about the types of NTBs that exist amongst the TPPA countries, aside from the definition that they are 'measures that are discriminatory and are for the purposes of restricting trade'. There is no adequate explanation about which countries maintain these barriers, how they are distinguished from legitimate NonTariff Measures (that are not for the purposes of restricting trade), what proportion of NTBs would be removed, what provisions in the TPPA would remove them or what the risks would be to societies as a result of their removal.
That lack of specificity is a serious problem, because most of the gains from TPP are supposed to come from removing NTBs. Without the details, there's no way of knowing how plausible the assumptions are. In any case, as the economists go on to note rather acidly:
This approach implies that societies maintaining higher levels of protection for social, environmental and health reasons, and a more developed system of business regulation, will generate benefits by removing their regulations. This may be a view held by some neoliberal economists but it is not the view of many other economists, and not supported by evidence.
The appearance of these new studies, together with those that were published before, underlines the fact that, whatever the source, it seems impossible to find any compelling economic justification for signing up to the agreement, since the gains are so pitiful -- and that's without including possible costs, which are never discussed. That this is only now becoming incontrovertible, in the wake of the publication of the TPP text last year, also shows why all the key documents should have been released as they were written in order to allow this kind of in-depth analysis to be conducted and debated as the talks proceeded. Not, as is happening currently, just a few days before the official signing ceremony on February 4 when it's a bit late to do much about it.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 1:47am

    That's a feature, not a bug

    That this is only now becoming incontrovertible, in the wake of the publication of the TPP text last year, also shows why all the key documents should have been released as they were written in order to allow this kind of in-depth analysis to be conducted and debated as the talks proceeded. Not, as is happening currently, just a few days before the official signing ceremony on February 4 when it's a bit late to do much about it.

    You both raised, and answered, your own point there in that paragraph. The reason they didn't release the documents when there was still time to analyse them is because their arguments for, and defenses of, the agreement do not, and can not, hold up under scrutiny. By instead only releasing them when the agreement is about to be signed, they have both the momentum on their side and there's very little time for people to study and object to it before it's too late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 3:32am

    the ones pushing it through will profit from it that's the only thing that matters to them.

    It could destroy their country and as long as they are still wealthy they will support it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    David, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 4:58am

    What I actually want to know:

    Even assuming an increase in GDP, it is a gross number. How will that increase be distributed among the various income classes?

    I strongly suspect that more people will get poorer as a result than those who get overproportionally richer (the latter category likely including politicians even without counting TPP-related bribes).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:05am

    Re: That's a feature, not a bug

    But there are big winners with this treaty. Just ask the pharma, the MAFIAA and others if they like it. A whole lot have to lose (read: the population in general) for a few to win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Lonyo, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:13am

    Employment

    If the modelling says nothing about the impact on employment, then presumably potential reductions in relevant employment in the developing nations would be ignored?

    TPP sets out labour related standards for signatories, which non-signatories do not have to abide by (obviously). This means that if you have a low-cost developing nation such as Vietnam, and a neighbouring newly-liberalised nation such as Myanmar that is not signing up, then an increase in Vietnamese labour standards would likely increase the cost of labour.
    Cue a shift to nearby countries without such requirements with cheaper labour (as has happened in the past...)

    This means that the goods which were being produced in Vietnam are now being produced in Myanmar, where the TPP is not in place and trade barriers may exist, reducing the benefits. Further, the GDP impact on Vietnam now also ceases, and the level of imports required goes down because they have less money. Impacting your exports to Vietnam.

    The impact of labour regulations in these countries and the relevant costs and knock on impact on living standards, production and imports/exports surely is a significant thing, and when talking about such small margins, the potential for shifts outside the TPP countries should surely be recognised and considered? The world does not work in isolation.

    (Myanmar and Vietnam used as random examples, partly based on Myanmar recently becoming more open, and Vietnam being a country where various goods, such as shoes/clothing are currently produced under lower labour standards).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lonyo, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:23am

    Re: Employment

    And while the tariffs reductions may offset the costs of labour for exports to the relevant countries (e.g. the US, Japan), that wouldn't be relevant for non-TPP trading partners. If a manufacturer (e.g. Nike) has a factory in Vietnam making shoes for various countries, then they would have increase labour costs for the whole factory, presumably, in order to make shoes for the US and Japan under TPP, which can be exported without tariffs.

    Shoes destined for elsewhere would also have the increased costs, but not benefit from reduced tariffs, so potentially you either shift half of the production outside Vietnam to somewhere else, as there's no tariff impact, for your products for China/Europe etc, or you lose out on a net basis due to the labour costs increasing across the whole manufacturing base but tariffs only decreasing on part of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

    Oh absolutely. It's crap for the public but great for private industry, which get all sorts of new perks, not the least being able to threaten multi-billion dollar(or local equivalent) lawsuits against any country that might be thinking of doing something that could possibly impact their profits. What company wouldn't want that sort of power?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:35am

    Until we get the money and business out of politics , It makes no difference what is said or discussed corporations will own this country and run it into the ground like they did hostess and many other companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 5:59am

    Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

    It may be great for the corporate big wigs - short term.
    However, it is not sustainable and is bad for everyone longterm. They do not seem to care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    Did anyone go to jail for what they did to the former hostess employees? Hope they are enjoying the retirement plan money they stole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 6:43am

    Re: What I actually want to know:

    Cronies like Boeing and ADM get richer from crappy trade deals like this, not the fat cats you see as the overclass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

    So long as they get their's before the crash and burn, of course they're not going to care, it's 'not their problem'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    David, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: What I actually want to know:

    Boeing and ADM have owners.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2016 @ 8:02am

    when is it going to sink in that the main aim of this and every other so-called 'Trade Deal' is to give the entertainment industries not just more power but so much that it will begin dictating what can be posted on the Internet and what permissions have to be granted and from whom before the various items can be posted anyway?? it is trying, by the backdoors in all these deals to enhance only what it wants and it itself! if you think that's BS, think to what they have been constantly striving for and how they are getting closer to that goal with every step. and remember each step is a little bit more 'adventurous', with yet another judge giving the industries even more of what it wants!

    imagine, if you will, a Planet that is run by companies that rely on almost nothing except make believe and that shows what we are fast heading towards!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That's a feature, not a bug

    Wall Street mindset. Get my bonuses and my money fast even if everything burns afterwards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Pronounce (profile), Jan 28th, 2016 @ 11:26am

    Re: Inexorably On To It's Obviously Climax

    The Enlightenment never cured the heart of man. The outcome of the Enlightenment period was to mask the truth from the light of reasonable and authentic discussion.

    Your conclusion is the natural outcome of greed and power. The outcome is unsustainable and will collapse in on itself, but you'll find a hard time getting the ear of anyone in power who's stacking the bills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    David E.H. Smith, Jan 31st, 2016 @ 1:31pm

    TPP, et al; Corporate ‘America’ Desperate ‘Extortion’

    TPP, et al; Corporate ‘America’ Desperate ‘Extortion’; Join in U.S. Increasing Avaricious $17+ trillion Debts to harmless taxpayers, or, Scorched Earth, Global Depression?
    Is ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada, et al, ‘unnecessarily’ delaying the TPP, CETA, et al?

    * What happened to new Canadian PM Trudeau’s (Corporate Canada East) promise to read, understand, share his understanding of TPP with consultation & questions from the taxpayers? Have Trudeau & Freeland read the TPP?

    * Should Politicians Have to Sully Their ‘Beliefs’ & Sales Pitches with ‘Sordid’ Facts that Come from Actually Reading & Understanding Global Treaties/’Arrangements’? Just the Facts; ‘We’, The People can Draw our Own Conclusions? Unless they’ve been paid via ‘future considerations’…
    2 Republican Senators Admit that They Have read the TPP.
    Congress/Parliaments; Deluded, or, Deluding; 'IGNORAMUS et IGNORABIMUS' (I do not know & I will Not Know)?
    ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodies’? (Who Will Guard the Guards?)

    * Corporate America, after its 2008 ‘Tactical Probe’ into Deregulation & Its Sub sequential Buying Short on its Global Recession, is Anxious for Its Legitimized & Globalized (TPP/TTIP/CETA) ‘Full Invasion’; HSBC’s money laundering, Enron’s insider trading, Chase Bank’s fraud, etc.
    Corporate Canada & its Traditional Big 3 Political Parties are desperate to
    increase its play time under the ‘skirts’ of Corporate U.S. in the International
    Glitter Game.

    * TPP Costs harmless Taxpayers. Why not make Global Corporate Partners pay for ‘Privilege’ of joining TPP, et al & Corporations pay TPP Tribunal’s punitive penalties NOT the harmless taxpayers?

    * Do ‘We’ want ‘Good Corporate Citizens’, or, more of Corporate Global assocs. to Punish the harmless taxpayers & complete the Info Deprivation?

    * After New Zealand’s PM admitted that medicines will cost more, have the citizens of New Zealand & other TPP nations also noticed similar moves like Canadian Prime Minister Harper below? ‘To help pay for the harmless taxpayers ‘guilty transgressions’ against Global Corporations in Canada, Prime Minister Harper has recently cut the funding for health care by $36 billion dollars’. (please see article below)

    * There is a great deal more to the ‘Foreign’ Treaties/’Arrangements’ (TPP, CETA, TTIP, et al), than Tobacco Carve-out, Piggy-backing Autos & Parts from China to N. America &/or the EU via Japan, Gouging Drug Prices, Fish, IP, Privatizing Public Health Care, Dairy products & Pork;
    Why didn’t Someone Tell me that the Punitive Penalties of the TPP’s Tribunals would come off the Top of Signatory Governments’ Budgets & Not the Bottom after All other Expenditures? Corporations & Shareholders First and the lil’ guy gets left overs, if any.

    * Canada’s (US’s) Traditional Media (Corporate Canada, et al) seem to be Adjusting the TPP ‘Goal Posts’ in order to ‘Demonstrate’ how Canada Won more than it Lost & similarly in all of the other Traditional Media of the other TPP nations. How did ‘We’ all ‘Win’ if everyone else ’Lost’? Isn't more accurate that the Global Corporations WON BIG time & ALL the citizens of the Trans Pacific nations LOST BIG time?

    * Guaranteeing the Net Tax Gains for the Voters with Global Corporate Assets Defeats the Purpose of the Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’; ie. it’s like playing the ‘Shell’/Shill Game without Hiding the Pea.

    * TPP & other Global Corporate Arrangements Accelerates Disparity at Voters Expense.

    • Can Piggy-backing 80% of products from China, BRICS, et al, on to Canadian products exported to the U.S. really lower the taxes of Canadian citizens by 7% if Corporate Canada increases our Taxes (Global Corporate Tribunal Penalties) by 2- 12%+?

    • Canada’s Remorseless Prime Minister (Pay for The WAD Accord's
    Compensations, etc.) & Depriving Citizens, et al, of Due Diligence Info?

    • There is no melodramatic ‘Boom, or, Bust’ in the TPP & the other Global
    Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements; it’s just a huge Shift of Liabilities from
    Corporations to the harmless lil’ guy and taking Huge amounts from the lil’ guy via Punitive Penalties ‘giving’ it to Shareholders as ‘Profits’;
    Tort Reform on Steroids is Tort Abolishment.

    • How long have Global Corporate Associates been ‘Passing’ Legislation in
    Anticipation of Suing Once Ratified? ‘Trickle’ Up & Out Economics.

    • TPP, TTIP, CETA; Roll-back NAFTA, et al, Tribunal Penalties (ISDS) paid by Canadian lil’ guy; $125 M & $25 M legal fees to Reneging Corporate America. U.S. Pays ‘0’. ‘You Should have Known’; President Bush. Prohibit Future TPP, et al, ISDSs.
    TPP, et al; Corporate ‘America’ Desperate ‘Extortion’; Join in U.S. Increasing Avaricious $17+ trillion Debts to harmless taxpayers, or, Scorched Earth, Global Depression?
    Is ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada, et al, ‘unnecessarily’ delaying the TPP, CETA, et al?

    * What happened to new Canadian PM Trudeau’s (Corporate Canada East) promise to read, understand, share his understanding of TPP with consultation & questions from the taxpayers? Have Trudeau & Freeland read the TPP?

    * Should Politicians Have to Sully Their ‘Beliefs’ & Sales Pitches with ‘Sordid’ Facts that Come from Actually Reading & Understanding Global Treaties/’Arrangements’? Just the Facts; ‘We’, The People can Draw our Own Conclusions? Unless they’ve been paid via ‘future considerations’…
    2 Republican Senators Admit that They Have read the TPP.
    Congress/Parliaments; Deluded, or, Deluding; 'IGNORAMUS et IGNORABIMUS' (I do not know & I will Not Know)?
    ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodies’? (Who Will Guard the Guards?)

    * Corporate America, after its 2008 ‘Tactical Probe’ into Deregulation & Its Sub sequential Buying Short on its Global Recession, is Anxious for Its Legitimized & Globalized (TPP/TTIP/CETA) ‘Full Invasion’; HSBC’s money laundering, Enron’s insider trading, Chase Bank’s fraud, etc.
    Corporate Canada & its Traditional Big 3 Political Parties are desperate to
    increase its play time under the ‘skirts’ of Corporate U.S. in the International
    Glitter Game.

    * TPP Costs harmless Taxpayers. Why not make Global Corporate Partners pay for ‘Privilege’ of joining TPP, et al & Corporations pay TPP Tribunal’s punitive penalties NOT the harmless taxpayers?

    * Do ‘We’ want ‘Good Corporate Citizens’, or, more of Corporate Global assocs. to Punish the harmless taxpayers & complete the Info Deprivation?

    * After New Zealand’s PM admitted that medicines will cost more, have the citizens of New Zealand & other TPP nations also noticed similar moves like Canadian Prime Minister Harper below? ‘To help pay for the harmless taxpayers ‘guilty transgressions’ against Global Corporations in Canada, Prime Minister Harper has recently cut the funding for health care by $36 billion dollars’. (please see article below)

    * There is a great deal more to the ‘Foreign’ Treaties/’Arrangements’ (TPP, CETA, TTIP, et al), than Tobacco Carve-out, Piggy-backing Autos & Parts from China to N. America &/or the EU via Japan, Gouging Drug Prices, Fish, IP, Privatizing Public Health Care, Dairy products & Pork;
    Why didn’t Someone Tell me that the Punitive Penalties of the TPP’s Tribunals would come off the Top of Signatory Governments’ Budgets & Not the Bottom after All other Expenditures? Corporations & Shareholders First and the lil’ guy gets left overs, if any.

    * Canada’s (US’s) Traditional Media (Corporate Canada, et al) seem to be Adjusting the TPP ‘Goal Posts’ in order to ‘Demonstrate’ how Canada Won more than it Lost & similarly in all of the other Traditional Media of the other TPP nations. How did ‘We’ all ‘Win’ if everyone else ’Lost’? Isn't more accurate that the Global Corporations WON BIG time & ALL the citizens of the Trans Pacific nations LOST BIG time?

    * Guaranteeing the Net Tax Gains for the Voters with Global Corporate Assets Defeats the Purpose of the Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’; ie. it’s like playing the ‘Shell’/Shill Game without Hiding the Pea.

    * TPP & other Global Corporate Arrangements Accelerates Disparity at Voters Expense.

    • Can Piggy-backing 80% of products from China, BRICS, et al, on to Canadian products exported to the U.S. really lower the taxes of Canadian citizens by 7% if Corporate Canada increases our Taxes (Global Corporate Tribunal Penalties) by 2- 12%+?

    • Canada’s Remorseless Prime Minister (Pay for The WAD Accord's
    Compensations, etc.) & Depriving Citizens, et al, of Due Diligence Info?

    • There is no melodramatic ‘Boom, or, Bust’ in the TPP & the other Global
    Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements; it’s just a huge Shift of Liabilities from
    Corporations to the harmless lil’ guy and taking Huge amounts from the lil’ guy via Punitive Penalties ‘giving’ it to Shareholders as ‘Profits’;
    Tort Reform on Steroids is Tort Abolishment.

    • How long have Global Corporate Associates been ‘Passing’ Legislation in
    Anticipation of Suing Once Ratified? ‘Trickle’ Up & Out Economics.

    • TPP, TTIP, CETA; Roll-back NAFTA, et al, Tribunal Penalties (ISDS) paid by Canadian lil’ guy; $125 M & $25 M legal fees to Reneging Corporate America. U.S. Pays ‘0’. ‘You Should have Known’; President Bush. Prohibit Future TPP, et al, ISDSs.

    • But, will the lil' guy get 6 years to read, consider, discuss & improve upon (with lawyers paid by Global Corporate Assocs.)?
    ***
    FULL Article, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others...

    • But, will the lil' guy get 6 years to read, consider, discuss & improve upon (with lawyers paid by Global Corporate Assocs.)?
    ***
    FULL Article, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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