January 22, 2013

Posted by orrinj at 7:33 PM


Exports Sagging? Try Some Free Trade : The president did little to open markets during his first term. Here's hoping for the second one. (MATTHEW J. SLAUGHTER, 1/22/13, WSJ)

Amid slow economic growth abroad and little movement in the American dollar, the key to spurring U.S. exports is aggressive policy liberalization. Yet how many new U.S. free-trade agreements were negotiated and ratified during President Obama's first term? Zero. How many new agreements look likely to be negotiated and ratified in 2013? Zero. For America to achieve the president's National Export Initiative goal, these zeros must soon be replaced with bold new trade agreements.

These agreements should carefully target countries and industries. That can make a real difference. No disrespect to our 20 current free-trade-agreement partner countries, but last year they collectively accounted for only 10.5% of global GDP. China alone accounts for about the same amount. Why not negotiate a China-U.S. free-trade agreement?

Most estimates peg the U.S. as the world's single-largest exporter of services. In 2011, American exports of services--in technology and entertainment and including tourism to this country--were worth $604.9 billion. Given that America's long-standing and growing trade surplus with the rest of the world ($179 billion in 2011) reflects a comparative advantage in strengths that should be cultivated at home, including skilled labor, information technology and organizational capital, why not negotiate a global free-trade agreement in major service industries like consulting, entertainment and software?

To work, such trade agreements cannot be mercantilist: They should open U.S. borders to foreign exports as well as foreign borders to U.S. exports. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


Snaps: Gronk effect with 4th option (Mike Reiss, 1/22/13, ESPNBoston.com)

Snaps played by Patriots skill-position players in the team's 28-13 AFC Championship Game loss to the Ravens, while analyzing what it means (small margin for error): 

QB Tom Brady -- 83 of 83 
TE Aaron Hernandez - 83 of 83 
WR Brandon Lloyd - 82 of 83 
WR Wes Welker - 80 of 83 
WR Deion Branch - 39 of 83 
RB Stevan Ridley - 35 of 83 
RB Danny Woodhead - 31 of 83 
TE Daniel Fells - 30 of 83 
RB Shane Vereen - 17 of 83 
TE Michael Hoomanawanui - 16 of 83 
TE Marcus Cannon - 1 of 83 
TE Donald Thomas - 1 of 83  [...]

Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd were each targeted 14 times, while Wes Welker was targeted 12 times. There was a big drop-off after that. Fells and Hoomanawanui weren't targeted at all, while Branch was targeted twice on his 39 snaps.

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 AM


Let elderly people 'hurry up and die', says Japanese minister (Justin McCurry, 1/22/13, guardian.co.uk)

Japan's new government is barely a month old, and already one of its most senior members has insulted tens of millions of voters by suggesting that the elderly are an unnecessary drain on the country's finances.

Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.

"Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government," he said during a meeting of the national council on social security reforms. "The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."

Aso's comments are likely to cause offence in Japan, where almost a quarter of the 128 million population is aged over 60. The proportion is forecast to rise to 40% over the next 50 years.

Ya think?