U.S.-China Trade killing jobs

Quelques études récentes viennent de donner corps à ce qui n’était jusqu’à présent qu’une thèse. Comme le décrit le Wall Street Journal dans « China trade takes a toll in U.S.” du 27/9/2011, l’un des credo des économistes jusqu’à présent était que le commerce international assure une répartition optimale des avantages comparatifs.


Certes, les importations détruisent certains emplois mais en diminuant le coût pour le consommateur des produits ou services importés, elles lui procurent des économies qui peuvent se reporter sur d’autres consommations de produits ou services plus évolués, et si l’offre de tels produits ou services ont bien lieu dans le pays, contribuent ainsi à créer des emplois à plus haute valeur ajoutée.


Trois économistes américains dont Michael Spence, un prix Nobel, viennent de montrer que cette théorie ne s’applique plus en raison du fait


« que le monde n’a jamais connu d’aussi grands pays [que la Chine, NDLR] se développant si rapidement  ».


Leur démonstration s’appuie sur l’examen de 722 agrégats de comtés, certains avec des produits comme de la mécanique lourde peu exposés à la concurrence chinoise, d’autres avec des productions plus légères plus facilement déplaçables.


Les secondes ont vu une chute plus importante de l’emploi manufacturier accompagné par une réduction parallèle des services à la production. L’étude note incidemment que la production chinoise a simultanément déplacé des importations de pays à bas salaires (nous pensons notamment aux pays du printemps arabe…).


Extrait de : Faut-il avoir peur de la main-d’oeuvre asiatique ?

Extrait de: Tallying the Toll of U.S.-China Trade, By Justin Lahart, The Wall Street Journal, September 2011

Study Sees Americans Bearing High Economic Cost of Imports as Labor Market Struggles to Adapt

For years, economists have told Americans worried that cheap Chinese imports will kill jobs that the benefits of trade with China far outweigh its costs.

WSJ's Justin Lahart reports that counties throughout the U.S. have seen employment declines thst can be attributed to the importing of inexpensive goods from China.

Sept. 27, 2011

New research suggests the damage to the U.S. has been deeper
than these economists have supposed.

The study, conducted by a team of three economists, doesn't challenge the traditional view that trade is ultimately good for the economy. Workers who lose jobs do eventually find new work or retire, while the benefits from trade, such as lower prices, remain. The problem is the speed at which China has surged as an exporter, overwhelming the normal process of adaptation.

The study rated every U.S. county for its manufacturers' exposure to competition from China, and found that regions:

·         Most exposed to China tended not only to lose more manufacturing jobs, but also to see overall employment decline.

·         Areas with higher exposure also had larger increases in workers receiving unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability payments.

China - toys

Competition from China's imports in sectors such as toys is taking more of an economic toll in the U.S. than thought.

The authors calculate that the cost to the economy from the increased government payments amounts to one- to two-thirds of the gains from trade with China.

In other words, a big portion of the ways trade with China has helped the U.S.—such as by providing inexpensive Chinese goods to consumers—has been wiped out.

·         And that estimate doesn't include any economic losses experienced by people who lost their jobs.

"There are really huge adjustment costs to local communities that were far worse than people had appreciated," said David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who conducted the study with Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, and David Dorn of the Center for Monetary and Financial Studies in Madrid. While Mr. Autor, who specializes in labor markets, receives some funding from the National Science Foundation, this research was conducted independently of any interest group.

The theory of comparative advantage, framed two centuries ago by British economist David Ricardo, says nations prosper by focusing on what they do best and trading with other countries that have different strengths. But amid the surge in inexpensive imports over the past decade, some prominent economists have challenged that view.

In a 2004 article, the late Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson argued that while trade may benefit some Americans, it does so by "decimating" the wages of blue-collar factory workers.

Exact, on fait quoi, avec tous les employés qui ne sont pas assez qualifiés, on les oublie ? Ah oui, il faut allez à l'école, mais s'il n'aime pas l'école ? On leurs donnent un chèque de BS ? et l'école ne veut plus dire grand-chose, car les Chinois sont aussi qualifiés que nos meilleurs ingénieurs !

J'attends de sérieuses réponses, pas des théories économiques qui sont sérieusement dépassées.

Princeton University economist and former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman Alan Blinder, once a champion of free trade, in recent years has argued that U.S. firms' increased outsourcing to low-wage countries puts millions of American jobs at risk.

Michael Spence, a Nobel Laureate economist at New York University, said the new finding reflected how prevailing theories of trade aren't up to the task of dealing with the breakneck pace of China and other developing economies. Since the world has never seen such large countries grow so quickly, history isn't much of a guide.

"It's not like we can look to the past and ask ourselves what happened last time this happened, because there wasn't a last time,"

he said.

Because the surge in goods from China has swamped import growth from other low-wage countries, the researchers focused on Chinese imports. They studied 722 clusters of interrelated counties covering the entire U.S. Some communities were more exposed to China, because they produced goods such as small appliances where Chinese imports have surged. Other regions were concentrated in industries like heavy machinery where Chinese competition has been slower to build.

A pattern emerged, with areas where factories were most exposed to Chinese import growth faring worse than the less exposed. Between 2000 and 2007, a community at the 75th percentile—one with a greater exposure to Chinese import growth than 75% of all communities—saw a manufacturing employment decline of roughly one-third more than communities at the 25th percentile.

Factory job losses were just the beginning.

·         High-exposure areas tended to see employment outside manufacturing fare worse than in low-exposure areas.

·         With fewer high-paying factory jobs supporting the local economy, and a growing pool of former factory workers entering the labor market, nonmanufacturing wages in the high-exposure areas were depressed.

The economists also found that higher exposure to Chinese imports:

·         Led to larger increases in unemployment insurance, food stamps, disability payments and other government benefits.

Those add up to big losses, they said, because the higher taxes the government must collect to pay for benefits, and the way benefits reduce people's incentive to work, makes the economy less efficient.

Dartmouth College economist Douglas Irwin said the new research painted too bleak a picture. There are important benefits of trade that aren't captured, he said, because nobody has figured out how to measure them. For example, commodity-producing countries the U.S. exports to have been boosted by China's growth, creating greater demand in those nations for U.S. goods. "But if we had more exports of (Caterpillar) heavy equipment to Australia, that's not being measured" as a gain from trade with China, he says.

It's also worth noting that many U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to factors such as the recession, outsourcing and technology, not Chinese imports.

The economists themselves were surprised by the results. Research Mr. Hanson conducted in the 1990s, based on data from before China became such a global player, suggested trade's effect on the U.S. labor market was small. "With the China study, I did not anticipate that a dozen years could make such a large difference in terms of the greater quantitative impact of trade," Mr. Hanson said.

The research is still awaiting peer review, but the economists have been presenting it at conferences.In earlier versions, they calculated gains from trade with China were completely wiped out by the losses from the increased use of government benefits. Some conference participants objected that the economists didn't weight appropriately how much of the rise in imports from China was due to growing American demand rather than low-cost Chinese goods winning out over higher-priced U.S. ones. The three economists adopted a more conservative approach.

Si c'était juste les États-Unis, on pourrait comprendre, mais c'est valable pour l'ensemble des pays industriels, même pour l'Allemagne, on estime que son PIB va s'accroître que 0.8% pour l'année prochaine.

Il faut sérieusement se réveiller, soyez assurés tous les groupes de pression qui profitent de la mondialisation, vont tout faire pour dénigrer une telle évidence, entre temps vous allez devenir plus pauvre.