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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT Endorses Imaginary TPP Deal

NYT Endorses Imaginary TPP Deal

Wednesday, 06 November 2013 05:57

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal that is being negotiated completely in secret. The main actors at the table are large corporate interests like Wall Street banks, multinational drug companies, and oil and gas companies. This might lead one to think that the end product will be an agreement that furthers the upward redistribution of income rather than benefits the bulk of the population. That seems especially likely since this is a "next generation" trade agreement that is primarily about regulations, not reducing traditional trade barriers like tariffs and quotas.

The result is likely to be a deal where corporations will use the trade agreement to block restrictions on their behavior that might otherwise be imposed by democratically elected governments. For example, the financial industry might use the deal to prohibit Dodd-Frank type restrictions that prevent the sort of abuses that led to the financial crisis. The oil and gas industries might use the deal to prohibit environmental restrictions on fracking. And the pharmaceutical industry might push for stronger patent-type protections. These will raise the price of drugs (like a tax) and slow economic growth.

Bizarrely, the NYT editorialized in favor of the TPP, concluding its piece:

"A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks."

Yes, boys and girls, Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil and Pfizer will put together a deal that does all these things. This is serious? 

Comments (18)Add Comment
But Secrecy is Essential to Free Market Competition
written by Last Mover, November 06, 2013 5:46

Any economist knows secrecy is essential to competitive success. What would happen if economic transactions were forced out into the open to be transparent so potential buyers and sellers could see them?

Imagine the damage to free markets. It would be like forcing football players on offense to broadcast their plays called in the huddle to the other side. It would be like the baseball pitcher forced to signal to the batter what the next pitch will be. Either one would destroy the game built on the capitalist apple pie and motherhood of America itself.

Wake up America. Dean Baker is preaching socialism here as one more government invasion of trade secrets essential to the survival of struggling capitalists.

How can the parties negotiating the TPP expect to undermine free market competition if they are forced to play by the rules of ... free market competition? Of which a mainstay is transparency?

Let them huddle in secrecy like respectable football and baseball players as they compete with each other. No one will notice that the referees were bought off long ago so the game is rigged anyway.
written by Nick, November 06, 2013 6:59
Because secrecy has worked so well for this administration lately, right? There is more to capitalism than just "capitalists", Last Mover. The kind of catch-all phrasing excludes workers, small-business owners, and other sections of population from these multiple countries who depend on certain protections from their country to survive. Emerging markets need a certain level of protectionism to be able to reach a position to compete on the global market. I'm sure you know this already though, right? And to think the U.S. is becoming *GASP* dare I say the word...SOCIALIST is to ignore the basic difference between a state and private capitalist system.
written by dax, November 06, 2013 7:29
Bravo Dean, keep up the good work.
written by dax, November 06, 2013 7:34
In the NYT's editorial I read: "A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property." Yes, all true. But the NYT never explains why it thinks that's the kind of agreement we will actually get.
written by dax, November 06, 2013 7:39
Bad hair day. My previous comment was just a more inelegant way of saying what Dean already had said. Sorry...
Bill Moyers show with Dean
written by Mike B., November 06, 2013 7:44
Bill Moyers show last weekend had a lot about TPP. Dean Baker and Yves Smith were on it:

of course it's not serious
written by Jennifer, November 06, 2013 7:53
I don't think any person wrote that piece, I think it was some kind of NYT bot.

"strengthen labor and environmental protections" please anybody when has the US signed an international agreements to do either of these? EVER?

"balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property."
LOL the quite explict purpose of this agreement, as evidenced by the people who have read it and are supporting it is quite the opposite.
This is from recent a congress hearing on the TIIP (the European trade agreement)
Senator Orrin Hatch:
"It is absolutely essential that TTIP reflect the highest standard of intellectual property rights protection of any prior agreement.
It's worth noting that the Eli Lilly case mentioned in this hearing is being held up as an example of the need for a strong Investor-State Dispute Settlement System-that is a special court for companies to sue countries for . . . POTENIAL, not actual, but POTENTIAL losses.
But, balance!
written by JDM, November 06, 2013 8:06
Yes, boys and girls, Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil and Pfizer will put together a deal that does all these things. This is serious?

Well, if we'd just leave them alone and stop criticizing them they would!
Yves & Dean on Paul Moyers
written by bailey, November 06, 2013 8:14
Been waiting for a post to reference it, it's an absolutely must see. WONDERFUL job Dean, thanks.
written by Bloix, November 06, 2013 8:17
This is the classic Times editorial, dictating from on high what "should" happen or "must" happen instead of explaining what is likely to happen.
written by Kat, November 06, 2013 8:31
I find it suspicious that CBS is airing this story about an Indian maker of generic drugs: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18...-approval/ They're devoting two days to it! I can't recall them giving that much air time to discussion of any of the whistleblower lawsuits aimed at American drugmakers.
Not quite "like a tax."
written by Perplexed, November 06, 2013 8:45
-"These will raise the price of drugs (like a tax) and slow economic growth."

Yes they are "like a tax" in that they increase the costs of everyone using these drugs, but, unlike a tax, instead of the revenue being generated going to support the public interest, the revenue goes directly to a private company to be spent any way they choose. The public has no say at all in how these "taxes" are spent. And, unlike a tax, there is no measurement and reporting of how much revenue is collected and redistributed to these private interests, and what these additional "tax dollars" are spent on.

This concealment couldn't happen without the cooperation of economists. If economists would insist that these rents be measured and reported on like other critical economic statistics, the public would have some idea of the magnitude and destination of these "tax revenues." If economists told the public how important this was, and what the magnitude of it was, the public might insist that it be changed. They CHOOSE not to. Should the public really be relying on a "science" that makes these kinds of choices?
written by Kat, November 06, 2013 8:46
Also, thanks for trying to keep this issue and the actual specifics (from the limited info available) on the radar.
Tweedle Dee etc
written by John Parks, November 06, 2013 6:18
and Tweedle Dum

The net difference between "state owned firms" and "corporate owned states" is w-a-y too nuanced for me to understand. I think the promoters of the TPP use the former term because they know that using the latter, while perhaps more accurate, is "bad form."

There will be few limits.
blogger at In the (K)now
written by warren swil, November 06, 2013 6:44
For those of us in journalism, The New York Times editorial is “mysterious.”
It’s mysterious because it comes out of nowhere. I searched the NYT database and they have done virtually NO reporting on the topic in the past year.
This is extraordinary.
Where did they get the facts from?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I am blogging this at 0111 GMT, 0300 PST.
Thank you for the fascinating discussion of the TPP on the Moyers show. It is invaluable.

NYTimes editorial writers have to make their pay.
written by John Wright, November 06, 2013 8:35
Note editorial did state, in a very concerned fashion:

"Because of the broad scope of these talks, negotiators are grappling with many difficult issues."

But as the talks are in secret, the NYTimes actually doesn't know what they are endorsing or concerned about.

The real editorial should have been "Why is this TPP agreement so secret and purposely hidden from most of the affected populations?"

Maybe the New York Times outsourced this editorial to the WSJ?

It was probably not accidental that readers' comments were not allowed.

Thank you Dean
written by Robert Sadin, November 06, 2013 10:54
Amazing that Dean, Yves Smith and Bill Moyers are so lonely in the fight against this monstrosity.
Where is Paul Krugman? Not one word on the subject! not a word.
written by liberal, November 07, 2013 8:34
Robert Sadin wrote,
Where is Paul Krugman?

Yes, it would be good if Krugman raised these issues. OTOH, he can't talk about everything, and for what he did re the invasion of Iraq, he's going to heaven for sure.

And while he's probably to the right of a lot of us, he really has reassessed is view of things. I think he's even mentioned or alluded to the concept of the "shock doctrine."

So for an establishment guy, he ain't bad.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.