04/15/2017

Peter Navarro: Trump’s Nutty Economics Professor

Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

The president would do well to ignore his adviser’s advice on China.

In the collected works of Peter Navarro, there is a peculiar paradox: Some of the dullest prose imaginable challenges the sharp edge of Hanlon’s razor, the aphorism that advises us: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Professor Navarro of the University of California at Irvine has hanging on the wall of an office or a den somewhere a doctorate in economics from Harvard; barring some Forrest Gump–level chain of coincidence, it does not seem likely that anything as innocent as stupidity explains his literary output, which consists of a few how-to-make-money-in-the-stock-market books (an actual title: “If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks”) from earlier in his career and a half dozen or so low-minded books about China with such talk-radio-ready names as “Death by China” and “The Coming China Wars,” two books that contain 80 exclamation points between them, as well as several pamphlets summarizing the main points of his books.

He is President Donald Trump’s house China intellectual, the only one of his close advisers who is a credentialed academic economist, albeit one whose area of specialty is utility companies, not international trade. (Our most famous scholar of trade economics, Paul Krugman, apparently was not available for service in the Trump administration. Pity.) Navarro has been named head of the newly created National Trade Council, a position in which he is well positioned to do a great deal of damage to the Trump administration, to the United States and its economic interests, and, possibly, to the world. That’s quite a step up for a man who was teaching undergraduate econ to business students until a few months ago.

It will not escape your notice that his career bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Elizabeth Warren. Both entered public life as academics; both attempted to build fortunes and reputations on popular financial self-help books (Elizabeth Warren offered the Dave Ramsey–ish Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan); Warren, possibly owing to her being a woman of color (Pantone code 11-0602 TPX), secured a more prestigious academic appointment than he did, but UC Irvine isn’t nothing; both individuals were instrumental in the creation of federal agencies, though Warren ultimately was prevented from leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she dreamt up; both sought public office, with Warren coming to serve in the Senate and Navarro running for office four times as a Democrat, losing races for mayor of San Diego, San Diego city council, county supervisor, and California’s 49th congressional district; both have a taste for populist arguments against international trade, and both have made environmental concerns a prominent part of their anti-trade positions: “Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore has been transformed by an avalanche of scientific facts from a left-wing crazy to the planet’s most authoritative political voice on the subject,” writes Navarro.

And both are battier than Bruce Wayne’s basement.

Professor Navarro, among other things, makes economics errors that would be obvious to an undergraduate. This has been commented on at some length elsewhere, most prominently after he published a review of the Trump economic plan (a review co-authored with Wilbur Ross, who is not an economist but is now secretary of commerce) in which he proffered the schoolboy argument that, because GDP is defined as the sum of consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports, eliminating our trade deficit with China would add substantially to GDP. In economics terms, he has mistaken an accounting identity for real-world causality; in layman’s terms, this is horsepucky, “a mistake that an econ professor like him really shouldn’t be making,” as Noah Smith of Bloomberg put it.

“Net exports” means “exports minus imports,” and, because the United States currently runs a trade deficit, that figure is negative. And it is not a trivial figure: Our trade deficit with China in 2016 equaled about 2 percent of GDP. But eliminating that trade deficit would not add 2 percent to GDP; imports are subtracted from the GDP model because they already are counted in other consumption and we don’t want to double-count them. As Cato’s Dan Ikenson puts it in his savage write-up of Navarro’s “economic illiteracy” — his words — in The Hill: “Imports have nothing to do with GDP — other than the fact that they increase when the economy is growing and they tend to decrease when the economy is contracting. . . . There is no inverse relationship between imports and GDP, as Navarro asserts.” He calls Navarro’s appointment an “assault on the fundamental premise that public policy should be rooted in fact and reason.”

Read full article



You May Also Like:

Why Single Payer Health Care Is A Terrible Option Scott W. Atlas, CNN

The Politicization Of Everything The Wall Street Journal

Trump Vs. Tattooed Millionaires Steve Malanga, City Journal

Why Trump Shouldn't Add North Korea To Travel Ban List Tom Knighton, PJ Media

End The NFL’s Anti-Trust Exemption Daniel Greenfield, FrontPage Magazine

I Was 'A Very Sick Man': Tearful Anthony Weiner Gets 21 Months In Sexting Case [Watch] John Bacon, USA Today

Former Army Ranger Is Only Steelers Player To Stand For National Anthem [Watch] Peter Hasson, Daily Caller

Steelers Coach Rips Afghan War Vet Villanueva For Standing For The Anthem Dylan Gwinn, Breitbart News

NASCAR Just Joined In On The National Anthem Drama, But They're Taking A Totally Different Approach Caleb Hull, Independent Journal Review

Health Care Costs Are The Reason You're Not Getting A Raise Veronique de Rugy, Reason

Privatization: Puerto Rico’s Best Hope For Keeping The Lights On Henry Grabar, Slate

Hillary Clinton Cashes In On Failure Sumantra Maitra, Acculturated

The Age Of Corporate Welfare Is Upon Us Andrew Wilford, American Spectator

Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins WILL Visit The White House Emily Zanotti, Daily Wire

Target's Pay Raise Is Proof That 'Fight For $15' Is Unnecessary Michael Saltsman, Forbes.com

I’m A Conservative College Student. The First Amendment Is Dying On Campuses Like Mine. Bradley Polumbo, Daily Signal

Private Enterprise Is Securing Freedom For Women In Kenya Rahimat Emozozo, Foundation for Economic Education

The Future Will Be Decentralized Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg

For More go to the Home Page >>>

Search

SIGN OUR PETITION

FreeMarket Central

TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE POLITICS.

PASS A HEALTH CARE BILL THAT PUTS PATIENTS FIRST



Americans need a health care bill that serves needs of individuals—not those of Washington and big corporations.

 

Read more

Bookshelf

FreeMarket Central

Some titles recent, all recommended -

Special Video Feature

FreeMarket Central

Voices From The 2017 International Students For Liberty Conference

In Search Of History

When America Was Truly The Land Of Opportunity

For [early immigrants] America was truly the land of opportunity. For the first time in their lives, many were truly free to pursue their own objectives. That freedom released the human energies which created the United States. There were few government programs to turn to and nobody expected them. But also there were few rules and regulations. There were no licenses, no permits, no red tape to restrict them. They found, in fact, a free market, and most of them thrived on it. 

-- Milton Friedman,

Shadow Stats Snapshot


FreeMarket Central

ShadowStats alternate economic indicators are based on the methodology of noted economist John Williams, specialist in government economic reporting.

  • Unemployment:
    FreeMarket Central BLS: 4.44%
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 22.2%
  • Inflation:
    FreeMarket Central August Year-to-Year: 1.73% (CPI-U*)
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 9.4%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]