When Even The Wall Street Journal Calls Out The USTR's Misleading Propaganda About The TPP...

from the lies,-damned-lies-and-statistics dept

Not too surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal has been a big booster of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement over the past year, repeatedly praising the deal and claiming it will save the world in all sorts of ways. Most of that is based on the faulty belief that the TPP is actually a "free trade" deal (it's actually the opposite), with some of it just being the standard WSJ faith-based belief that "if big businesses like it, it must be good."

Given that, it's a bit surprising that even the WSJ is now calling out the US Trade Rep (USTR) for its blatantly misleading propaganda about the TPP. As Glyn recently wrote about, the Peterson Institute for International Economics released a summary showing tiny economic gains from the TPP -- to the point that it makes you wonder what the fuss is. Some folks have already called into question the Peterson Institute's methodology, suggesting the results may be even worse, but even if we accept the organization's findings, the benefits to the TPP are miniscule: increasing GDP 0.5% by 2030.

But, no matter. The USTR decided to hype up this report... by tweeting out a chart so misleading that even the WSJ called it out as bogus propaganda.
From the way that chart is drawn, it sure looks like a really big gap between "with TPP" and "without TPP." But, of course, it's really just the difference between $25,754 billion and $25,885 billion. Yes, $131 billion is nothing to sneeze at, but on an economic projection 15 years out, that's a rounding error. But the chart, of course, makes it look like a big deal. Here's the notoriously TPP-supporting WSJ explaining how ridiculous the chart is:
Notice anything wrong here? Look at those two values on the right side of the column. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S. real national income will be $25,885 billion in 2030. Without, it will only be $25,754 billion. That’s a difference of $131 billion. But the chart presents that gap as about the same, in size, as the gap between $18,154 billion and $25,754 billion. That’s a difference of $7.6 trillion. Yep, that’s trillion with a “t.”
The WSJ then tried to help out with its own, more accurate chart:
But, of course, even that chart is somewhat misleading, since the y-axis is truncated (which the WSJ itself admits). So, to help out, we created our own chart based on Peterson's numbers (in Table 2, in case you're wondering):
Notice how you basically can't see the difference between the two lines. Yeah. Compare that to the USTR's gloating above. And people wonder why we call out the USTR for being a secretive, totally dishonest organization.

Amusingly, when the WSJ reached out to the USTR, the USTR pretended that its original chart was an "error" and promised an "updated" chart:
“We noticed the error and are tweeting out updated, corrected graphics now,” said Andrew Bates, press secretary for the Office of the USTR.
So... what is the "updated, corrected graphics"? Here:
So, uh, yeah, its "corrected" graphic is even more misleading in that it just hides the base altogether and makes it look like this change is some huge change. Oh, and the original graphic, which the USTR admits is an "error"? That one is still up. Because of course it is.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 5:21am

    Anything can look impressive without context

    It's pretty clear why they're going on and on about the billions that the TPP is estimated to grow the US economy by, as saying it will cause a boost of billions sounds like a really big deal.

    However, ultimately that number is meaningless(at best, more accurately I'd say it's misleading and dishonest) unless you compare it to the numbers without the TPP in play, and given those numbers make those billions look like a rounding error, it's hardly a surprise they don't frame it that way.

    Talk about dollar amounts, and it sounds like a great boost to the economy. Talk about percentages however and it becomes negligible at best, and without those billions drawing attention people might start looking closer at the non-financial changes it will cause, and those are a bit trickier to defend.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:31am

      Re: Anything can look impressive without context

      And they haven't had the need to add grocery stores, eh?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:59am

      Re: Anything can look impressive without context

      I wonder what the graphs (or whole numbers for that matter) would look like after adjusting for ISDS settlements (both directions mind you) between now and 2030, which is a short 15 years away?

      Oh, and what about the government budgets since ISDS settlements will come from taxes, not GDP?

      What about corporations, do they include ISDS settlements in their projections? It would be income after all, just not earned income.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:47am

    inflation adjusted?

    or all we all going to be millionaires (like germany and zimbabwe

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      It is sad that the only thing propping up the US economy is the dollar still being used as the world backup currency. Once that goes it will be a hell on earth for those countries that rely on it.

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:47am

    Benny said it pretty well

    Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics.
    -- not Mark twain
    -- not Benjamin d'Israeli
    -- not clear
    -- http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/lies.htm

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:55am

    Ponder

    I wonder if the USTR received a license to use Apple's patent on using and arrow on a graph to show an increase by pointing said arrow tip up, and the base of the arrow pointing down. And let's not forget the T Mobiles patent on using letters and numbers on a slide in order to transmit information and or data from sender to receiver. Otherwise I hear a major lawsuit is coming and all that potential growth will go to those two companies.

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

  • icon
    surfer (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 6:57am

    from a greedy corporation standpoint..

    Ok, TPP bad, mkay.. I get it. I've lurked here for years, great site btw Mr. Masnick..

    Can someone ELI5 how the multi-national corporations pushing so badly for this clusterfsck are indeed going to benefit?

    The reason I ask is simple. Typically these greedy bastards are incredibly narrow minded and so blinded by greed, any typical 7yr old can circumvent the new implications with some minor behavioral modifications. (i.e. cord-cutting et al.)

    I am interested in an article(s) outlining the detrimental effects in laymen's terms that would improve an individuals ability to retain some semblance of freedom moving forward. I understand it's blatant copywrong aspects (consider me one of the many that has zero respect for copyright anymore, and could care less) baked into the TPP, but would like to better understand other possible behavior changes needed to circumvent the intended goals.

    With the fervor with which this is being pushed, looking at it thru the eyes of pure greed, I fail to understand what they hope to gain. Knowing that, of course, I am incapable of thinking like a greedy, self-serving massive global conglomerate hell bent on profit$.

    TIA

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:12am

      Re: from a greedy corporation standpoint..

      Corporate sovereignty is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Being able to hold the threat of billion dollar lawsuits over the head of any government that does something that might threaten your profits is an incredible gain for the corporations wielding the threat.

      'Harmonization' also comes to mind, where they get to export their bought and paid for laws into countries that had rejected those laws before, under the guise of 'harmonizing' the laws between countries, neatly side-stepping any legislative process and potential public objection.

      I'm sure there's more, but those are the first two that came to mind for me at least.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re: from a greedy corporation standpoint..

        Not only that but to FORCE other nations to recognize & enforce your Patents and Trademarks with much less effort and a lot more force makes for a much more monopolistic IP landscape.

        TTP is EVERYTHING wrong with Business short of Corporate OWNED Nations or human slaves which are essentially already occurring in multiple nations anyways. TPP just legitimized it even more! Imagine the "United States of Military Industrial Complex" cause it is practically true.

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

        • icon
          surfer (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:02am

          thanks..

          both of your comments have helped. I think anons comment is simply a stepping stone toward the New World Order wherein corporations ACTUALLY do own nations and the humans living there.

          I feel the goal in this baby step is to link your wallet to corporations so they can withdraw at their leisure.

          Insightful, thanks..

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:39am

            Re: thanks..

            You are right and welcome.


            And to quibble with some of the details because they are already occurring now... They are not going to withdraw
            at their leisure.

            They are just going to own all of the water and air and still call it your "freedom of choice" when you to buy it to drink and breath.

            A lot of people like to blame capitalism falsely for this occurring when this very thing will occur with or without capitalism when a free market has been quashed.

            There is not a single free market currently available on the planet. You can't even legally open a lemonade stand in your front yard without a permit.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:48pm

              Re: Re: thanks..

              as well as kickbacks to the local police and county office to process your lemonade stand permit. I think its about 1000 for the permit and 500 for the "administration fees"

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

  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:14am

    How about adding error bars or a trajectory funnel based on likely outcomes?

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

  • icon
    You're a Gazelle! (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:15am

    That's Impressive!

    Gee wiz Mr. Graph!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:37am

    Put the Lipstick on the Pig, and let's get to that Rodeo.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:43am

    the planet could easily have melted by 2030 anyway and to state the $131 billion increase will be steady every year after that is pure fantasy.

    what i find so annoying is that USTR force committees from other countries to keep turning up to meetings in which absolutely nothing is discussed other than what USTR wants, then threatening all of those representatives with severe consequences if they leak any information out. the USTR seem to be a self-appointed negotiator with tendencies to threaten every other rep that disagrees with what it wants. the most ridiculous thing is, what would USTR do if no one else turned up to these meetings, telling them to take a hike?? would it start a war because of it? would they invade these countries because of it? they only have clout because the other countries are stupid enough to go along with what the USA wants and that means everything, while all others have to go without. on top of that the main aim of all these 'Deals', is to plant USA copyright law and length of term on to others, in other words, making the Planet adhere to USA law, while sacrificing their own laws! how absolutely ridiculous is that? anyone would think the world cant live without the USA and that's in or out of 'Trade Deals'!!

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      to state the $131 billion increase will be steady every year after that is pure fantasy.

      I think what that means is that after 2030 it will have no further effect. The economy will get to $131 billion above where it would have been without TPP, and then stay there. This is not an annual increase of $131 Bn, it's cumulative. So even the most pro-TPP entity in the world doesn't predict any positive effect beyond 14 years from now.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:49pm

      Re:

      why not the US has started wars over less. In some cases they don't even ask congress to declare war, they just start bombing cities

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

  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 7:45am

    On the plus-side, this little escapade does at least clearly show the USTR in it's true colours.

    Up to and including the first graphic, all their pronouncements on the topic can be argued to be matters of opinion, or the result of valuing certain sources of information above others.

    By posting that second graphic, however, a graphic that responds to complaints by doubling up on misinformation, they can no longer claim they're attempting to tell the truth. It's bullshit and they clearly know it.

    The USTR is visibly and actively attempting to deceive anyone who listens to it - and plausible deniability has finally left the building.

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

    • icon
      Almost Anonymous (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      You should scroll down their twitter feed a bit farther. "The average American household loses $700 by delaying TPP by even one year." What a steaming pile of horse shit.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re:

        Just a bit, yes. That's loaded language at it's finest, making it seem like not passing TPP will somehow cost the 'average American household' money that they're currently getting when at best the situation might be that passing TPP would improve the economy such that people would be able to make $700 more(which given the downright pathetic expected gains I'd rank as extremely unlikely to be the case).

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's loaded language at it's finest, making it seem like not passing TPP will somehow cost the 'average American household' money that they're currently getting when at best the situation might be that passing TPP would improve the economy such that people would be able to make $700 more(which given the downright pathetic expected gains I'd rank as extremely unlikely to be the case).

          It's even worse than that, because there is no "average household". The wealthy will reap most of that benefit, with most other people holding steady or losing out. By averaging out the large gains by the rich over the whole population, they make it sound as though everyone will be a little bit better off.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Sanjnakumar (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:31am

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:41am

    OK, so US national income may increase.

    How about the incomes of the labor force doing the work?

    Nope, didn't think so.

    Another trickle down theory that doesn't work in real life.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2016 @ 8:54am

    It's about hegemony

    The more I read about TPP and its impact, it becomes clearly evident that it is about hegemony. The US wants to maintain a power relationship with the other countries and do not want China to get stronger. That requires given the US giving things that strengthens the other TPP countries, but at the same time does not reduce the US influence.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 11:58am

    3% economy, 3% inflation

    I wonder how this all looks with 3% increase for 15 years..

    $18,000 Increased by 45%...$27,000...and that isnt incremented..

    The Fun part of all this...In the past 20+ years, the Corps have raised things 3% per year in TOP WAGES...no matter the economy. And the lower wages, SAT.

    If the Lower wages went up as Much as the TOP wages, as a percentage, you would be getting about $15 per hour, min wage.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 12:05pm

    Who gets that money?

    It won't be the people.

    It won't go into the general fund of the USG.

    In fact, the TPP establishes the authority and sovereignity of our new insect overlords, so calling it the US economy at that point is debatable. That's not taxable product.

    So yeah, shennanigans.

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

  • icon
    Scott (profile), 29 Jan 2016 @ 1:54pm

    Pete Peterson

    My interest always perks up a bit when I hear the Peterson Institute is involved. Its founder Peter G Peterson has spent nearly 1 BILLION in think tank propaganda to try and convince Americans that the US Debt will cause a financial crisis...NOW, and we have to cut Medicare, and Social Security...NOW or doom will follow. He is the one that funded Simpson Bowles (when their funding ran out), and they both serve on the board of the PI. He also funds the "No Labels" and "Third Way" organizations...and it would horrify you to see the list of people with truly large conflicts that get funding from him. Remember Reinhart/Rogoff...peterson funded...and wrong.

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

  • identicon
    David E.H. Smith, 31 Jan 2016 @ 1:39pm

    Is ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada, et al, ‘unnecessarily’ delaying the TPP, et al?

    TPP, et al; Compensations;
    Hormone treated milk production banned in Canada for health reasons (Corporate Canada pays milk farmers Compensation for their TPP demise & Compensation to milk consumers for health risks), or, was production banned to protect the milk farmers & industry (Corporate Canada may be off the hook if Foreign milk Labelled ‘Hormone Treated’ & with Health Tax)?

    TPP, et al, base for future changes for Global Corporate Economy; your tax dollars to fund their enterprises & value of shares with No Corporate Liabilities & for their future considerations…

    Living with Litigious & Anti-Tort Corporate ‘America’;
    So, You’ve Never Been Secretly Sued Before Off the Top of National
    Budgets to Increase value of corporate shares & dividends…

    What happened to Canadian PM Trudeau’s (Corporate Canada East) promise to read, understand, share his understanding of TPP with consultation & questions from the taxpayers? Native & non-Natives Canadians to pay more for Corporate Canada’s liabilities, again…

    • Is NZ signing a Kinder & less punishing Agreement for harmless taxpayers with China versus the U.S. lead TPPartnership?

    • Why not make Global Corporate Partners pay for ‘Privilege’ of joining TPP, et al?

    • Has Canadian PM Trudeau Read & Understood the TPP, et al? When will he be prepared to answer the Questions re; TPP & its relationship to The WAD Accord's Compensation & the Corporations of the TPP's Contribution to it?

    • Trade Treaty/’Arrangements’ Paid off from top of citizens taxes & not added to Deficits; services shrink & privatized to US corporations.

    • Much More Taxpayer (non-Corporate America/Canada) paid for Litigation on the Way as Native Canadians, et al, look to Courts for Certainty (see; ‘Nexen’) re; Global Corporate ’Arrangements’ (treaties). Liberals (Canada) swear that they may not have had part of the Planning & Cover-up of The Residential Schools’ Native Canadian Cultural Genocide & Ordained Pedophile Rings?

    • New PM Trudeau denies depriving Global Corporate Associates, et al, of Due Diligence info & questions in The WAD Accord’s Compensation? Contributions to WAD Compensation by Global Corporate Associates & citizens of TPP, China & EU nations with ‘informed consent’?

    • Why are Corporate Canada’s Liberals 'forgetting' to tell its Global Corporate associates; promoters of TPP, CETA, C-CIT, et al, that they cannot & will not be able to supersede Native Human rights, consultations, et al? Proof of Good intentions in Prior, During & Follow-up Discussions Needed for ‘Foreign’ Treaties/’Arrangements’ with Vast Modifications prior to Implementation, or, Rejection. Anything besides Schedule of Tariff Reductions needs Native Approval.

    • But, which international stockbrokers have not protected their clients from ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada? Another ‘unregulated’, designed, Wall St. ‘meltdown’, but, global via Treaties/’Arrangements’? And, who will protect the ‘harmless’ taxpayers?

    ***
    PRESIDENT OBAMA, PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU (CAN.), the leaders of the other political parties operating in Canada, the executives of the parties, Leaders & citizens of the EU, China, the Trans-Pacific nations, et al;
    After serving you with; "NOTIFICATION of Pre-existing CHALLENGE(s) to the C-CITreaty (FIPPA), the CETAgrement, the TPPartnership, et al" on, or, about, 2015,
    do you think that it would prudent for both; Canadians & non-Canadian who are the potential shareholders & non-shareholders of the businesses, industries & enterprises that will be generated by, or, effected by, the aforementioned agreements, treaties, &/or, partnerships, to wait for the findings regarding:

    'The Submission' to The SUPREME COURT of CANADA:
    ‘The SHAREHOLDERS & Corporations of AMERICA, China, Canada, the EU, the Trans Pacific nations, et al
    v.
    the (harmless) Canadian NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native, et al’
    (Excerpts of ‘The Submission’, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com)
    including
    'The MERKEL (Chancellor of Germany) Letter; To Sue, or, Be Sued?'
    (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com)?

    And, what, if anything, have you & the other leaders done that will ensure that those voters that have not been privy to the aforementioned agreements, treaties, &/or, partnerships, have the same, or, more time (ie. 10 years for non-lawyers) to read, consider, discuss, improve upon, &/or, reject, or, accept (with funding by corporate Canada to pay the requisite contingent of lawyers to work out; a) the dollar impact for the harmless taxpayers & the designers of the ‘original’ draft; corporate Canada and b) alternatives.

    Furthermore, what is the schedule of punitive penalties that the voters will receive from Corporate Canada & the federal government if/when the TPP, et al, Tribunals try to take trade penalties from the top of the taxpayers budgets in order that the Tribunals’ penalties don’t interfere with expanding our spending for health care, education, CPP & other services. That is to say; the TPP penalties need to be at the bottom of the ‘balanced’ federal, et al, budgets; after all other payments, compensations & suits by the provinces/municipalities against corporate Canada & the federal government as per ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com) & ‘The MERKEL (Chancellor of Germany) Letter’ (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com)?

    And, ‘finally’, Canadian provinces, such as, Alberta, that allow Canadian corporations to pollute, frack for LNG, etc., do not set precedents for all of Canada, it merely allows foreign/global signatories to do pollute, frack for LNG, etc. in the jurisdiction of Alberta, but, these foreign corporations must maintain rigorous environmental standards that will not challenge the neighboring provinces, &/or, the other effected jurisdictions. Under these & other circumstances the corporations are deemed liable & fit to be sued by all of the effected jurisdictions of Canada.

    Please also remember Mr. Trudeau, et al, that if all of the harmless voters/taxpayers demand shares in the aforementioned businesses, industries& enterprises as a consequence of the encumbrances of their rights,& /or, the future marginalizing of their rights, the entire TPP & the other Global Corporate Treaties/'Arrangements' come tumbling down as the cross-suing global corporations will be placed in the situation that we've discussed before whereby, the corporations will be in fact suing themselves without being able to totally pass along their liabilities, such as the secret Tribunals' punitive penalties, to the harmless, voters/taxpayers.

    And, as the need to compensate Canadian; dairy farmers, auto manufacturers, fishermen, et al, has been created by corporation Canada in order for it & its shareholders to benefit directly from their secret 'arrangements', do you understand the need for the compensations to be taken from the gross earnings (trillions of dollars over the life time of the secretly growing scope of the TPP, et al) of the businesses, industries & enterprises that will be generated by, or, positively affected by, the aforementioned agreements, treaties, &/or, partnerships,
    and thus, the compensations will absolutely not be paid for in any part by the harmless voters/taxpayers, &/or, any of the potentially 'indirect' beneficiaries?

    As always, I look forward to reading about your thoughts, your questions, your feelings, your improvements, etc., & those of your fellow party leaders, the executives of the parties, et al, regarding the enclosed.

    If you should have any questions, or, problems with this issue, &/or, any other, I can be contacted at the numbers & addresses that I’ve previously provided you with.

    David E.H. Smith
    - Researcher
    - 'Qui tam...'

    OR,
    your signature

    ***
    For the FULL Letter with various sub-titles, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com ***
    FULL ‘Submission’, see; The Supreme Court of Canada’,
    Or, Contact DEHSmith at davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    For FULL Article; 'Well, You should have known', see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com ***
    For more Information & Questions re; The Relationship between Human (Nature) Rights & Economics by way of the TTIP, the CET Agreement, TPP, C-CI Treaty, et al, and The WAD Accord & List of RECENT ARTICLES, LETTERS & NOTIFICATIONS by DEHS, 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 chronology ]


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