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Two Good Economists’ Letters

Summary:
Greg Mankiw writes:Some sign a letter opposing tariffs. Others sign a letter supporting President Trump. You can guess which one I signed.Like Greg, I signed the first one and not the second one. However, had I been asked to sign the second--I wasn't--the only reason I would have refused is that it's billed as "Economists for Trump." I almost never sign a letter where the signers are taking a position in favor of a politician rather than in favor of some of a politician's policies and positions. But the author(s) of the Trump cleverly came out in favor of Trump's good policies while expressing their hope that certain things would or wouldn't happen. Here's the key section expressing hope:We believe that

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Greg Mankiw writes:

Some sign a letter opposing tariffs. Others sign a letter supporting President Trump. You can guess which one I signed.

Like Greg, I signed the first one and not the second one.

However, had I been asked to sign the second--I wasn't--the only reason I would have refused is that it's billed as "Economists for Trump." I almost never sign a letter where the signers are taking a position in favor of a politician rather than in favor of some of a politician's policies and positions. But the author(s) of the Trump cleverly came out in favor of Trump's good policies while expressing their hope that certain things would or wouldn't happen.

Here's the key section expressing hope:

We believe that reciprocal free trade with lower trade barriers on all sides produces higher overall economic growth and hope that the President's efforts to negotiate better trade deals, including willingness to re-enter the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), will bring about a stronger long-run free trade equilibrium by reducing trade barriers and opening markets that were previously closed to American businesses.

We hope that Chinese President Xi's stated willingness to reduce China's 25% auto tariff will be honored and is an early sign that President Trump's negotiations to promote trade are working.



David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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