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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT: Making Up Numbers to Push Trade Agreements

NYT: Making Up Numbers to Push Trade Agreements

Thursday, 11 November 2010 20:56

The New York Times seems to be following in the footsteps of the Washington Post in terms of making up nutty numbers to promote trade deals. The NYT told readers that if Japan did not join in a pan-Asian trade agreement it would "eliminate eight million jobs."

According to the OECD, employment in Japan is just over 62 million. This means that the estimates in the NYT imply that not taking part in this trade agreement would cost Japan a number of jobs approximately equal to 13 percent of its current employment the equivalent of roughly 18 million jobs in the United States. Given that Japan already trades with these countries and this deal would simply expand trade, it is implausible that the agreement would increase its employment by even one-tenth this amount. 

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, November 11, 2010 9:41
The claimed job loss of eight million was by Japan's Trade Ministry. Another estimate cited in the NYT article was by Japan's Argricultural Ministry in the opposite direction, 3.4 million jobs lost if Japan joins the trade agreement, either reducing the first estimate to 4.6 million net jobs for not joining, or if already counted in the first estimate would mean there were 11.4 million non-agricultural jobs gross lost for not joining.

Apparently they're using American economists who were fired for missing the housing bubble and offered to make either prediction for a steep discount to salvage their reputation.
Two Numbers That Don't Work Together
written by Cujo359, November 11, 2010 11:59
The $128 billion and the alleged effect of 8 million jobs lost doesn't make sense to me. That translates to about $16k per job, which must be way less than the amount of GDP required to employ one Japanese worker.
Re: Two Numbers That Don't Work Together
written by Cujo359, November 12, 2010 12:11
I tried to provide a link in the last comment, so here is the executive summary: take Japan's 2009 GDP, divide it by the number of workers, and you get a number of $63,000, which would be the sum needed to employ an average worker in Japan. That's four times the amount implied by dividing the two numbers allegedly offered up by Japan's Trade Ministry.

One would think that reporters who cover economics would be alert to this sort of thing.
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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.