The Mercantilist

Veronique de Rugy contends that one should take Trump at his word on trade.  It’s doubtful that anyone should take Trump’s word for anything, but that’s too literal a reading of her claim.  She’s right that, in effect, Trump truly opposes free trade no matter what he says: As we embark on a trade war, let’s […]

Promising Gain, Delivering Loss

Here in the Midwest, in America’s Dairyland, in a small college town surrounded by farms, Trumpism’s economic promises, never likely to do a body good, now slowly curdle: U.S. business groups say hundreds of thousands of American jobs are at stake as newly imposed trade barriers cause an abrupt slowdown of cross-border trade. The fallout is […]

A Metaphor for Trump’s Trade Policy

Wisconsin businesses are bracing themselves for European Union retaliation against Trump’s trade tariffs (“Harley-Davidson motorcycles, dairy products, ginseng, cranberries and other Wisconsin goods are likely to feel the sting of retaliation from steep tariffs announced Thursday by the White House on foreign metals”). Meanwhile, there’s no better visual metaphor for the difference between Trump’s trade […]

Another Pig at the Trough

Jason Stein and Rick Romell report Foxconn: Glass maker could want hundreds of millions of dollars to locate alongside massive Wisconsin factory: To locate in Wisconsin, a key glass supplier to Foxconn wants financial help from the Taiwanese electronics giant or state taxpayers that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. … Corning […]

The Price of Trumpism is Ruin

Craig Gilbert looks at the careers of Priebus, Ryan, and Walker: They led the “Cheesehead Revolution,” the GOP’s audacious conquest of Wisconsin. They offered a model for bridging Republican frictions between establishment and base. They became national figures. They ran into Donald Trump. They suffered. They bent to his rise. Now one (Priebus) has left […]

A Sham News Story on Foxconn

About a month ago, a local business lobbying group in Whitewater invited an operative of the Walker Administration to the city to talk about Foxconn. The nearby Jefferson County Daily Union sent a stringer to cover the presentation. See Foxconn impact outlined in Whitewater. In the 38-paragraph story, the paper simply reproduces – without the […]

Foxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers

The Foxconn plant isn’t even built yet, but the Walker Admin and its allies (including a few local apologists for corporate welfare in Whitewater) now resort to fantastic, magical claims about how much economic development will come from nearly four billion in taxpayer subsidies. So magical, so fantastic, that they now claim an 18-1 multiplier […]

A Telling Comparison

People in small towns, nearly everywhere in this country, have access to national programming & news on television and online. As easily as one could subscribe online to something like the Janesville Gazette, one could subscribe to the Chicago Tribune or Washington Post. Imagine, then, a choice between editorials in the Gazette and the Post […]

Anti-Immigration Measures, Wrong Yet Again

Embed from Getty Images An anti-immigration position is for economics something like a flat-earth position would be for natural science: one may hold it only through either ignorance or disorder. (The ignorance would have  to be profound, as even the weakest grasp of economics would incline a rational person to acknowledge the benefits of a […]

Reading and Reviewing

There are two books I’m eager to review here at FW: Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (2016) and Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story (4.18.17).  Like many others, I’ve been awaiting Goldstein’s book for some time, knowing that significant works take time. For both books, […]

Plain-Spoken in a Small Town? Not Most Leaders

There’s a quaint – but false – notion that people in small towns are uncommonly plain-spoken, even blunt.  One sometimes sees examples of this in films or books, where residents are depicted as folksy straight-talkers (“shucks, I don’t cotton to no one abusing nobody,” etc.).  I’ve never heard anyone in Whitewater speak so colorfully, and I’ve […]

Rapid Over Gradual 

There’s a policy study out from Cato entitled, 25 Years of Reforms in Ex-Communist Countries: Fast and Extensive Reforms Led to Higher Growth and More Political Freedom (via pdf Oleh Havrylyshyn, Xiaofan Meng, and Marian L. Tupy, Cato Policy Analysis 795, 7.12.16). I finished it last night (the paper’s well-written, relatively brief, and persuasive). There’s […]