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