Saturday, August 16, 2003

De-Long on the trade deficit: US Insurance as a service industry

Semi-Daily Journal: "Some of America's trade deficit is not really there--the result of errors and omissions in the data, a 'statistical discrepancy.' Some of America's trade deficit is there, but is not 'unsustainable': the portion of America's trade deficit that is the result of its three 'exorbitant privileges' can continue until the age of the world changes
: American can keep selling international reserve and liquidity services, political risk insurance services, and future immigration options to the central banks and rich of the rest of the world for a long time to come.

Only that portion of the trade deficit that is neither (a) a statistical discrepancy, (b) the result of 'exorbitant privilege', nor (c) clearly a short-run and transitory cyclical phenomenon is cause for concern. How large is that worrisome component of the trade deficit? I don't know. It bothers me that I don't know--because I am supposed to."

Political life insurance options services and immigration options. Wow. Brilliant.

Clearly we could blow that by becoming a xenophobic intolerant culture, but even I think the US is among the least likely of all nations to become profoundly xenophobic. It could, however, develop immense religious intolerance. By implication that would blow away a foundation of our trade privileges.

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