The TPP is a really bad deal – Part 5, What part of getting kicked in the face do you not understand?

Dean Baker, Getting It Wrong on Trade: TPP Is Not Good for Workers (emphasis mine):

The big money is sweating big time since it seems large segments of the American public have caught wind of the Obama administration’s plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After several decades in which trade has been a major factor depressing the wages and living standards of the country’s workers, the Obama administration is going back to the well to push for more….

Many prominent economists, including many strongly pro-trade economists… have argued the TPP should include rules on currency manipulation… According to calculations by Bergsten and others, actions of foreign central banks to raise the value of the dollar have added several hundred billions of dollars to our trade deficit and cost us millions of manufacturing jobs.

We have no easy mechanism for replacing the $500 billion in lost annual demand (@ 3.0 percent of GDP) due to the trade deficit. We could do it by running large budget deficits, but that is not politically viable. The other mechanism that has been used to fill this demand gaps is asset bubbles, as in stock and housing bubbles. That does not seem like a promising path going forward either. In other words, if we want to see a full employment economy we should be very concerned about the trade deficit and the TPP

[It] is important to note that the deal will also bind the U.S. Congress and every state and local government in the United States…. Once the deal is written it is out of the hands of the negotiators, who do not know how it will be interpreted by the judges in the extra-judicial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism established by the TPP.

[The] argument about the benefits to U.S. corporations is even more interesting. U.S. corporations like Apple, GE, and Merck have been telling us for decades in every way they can they are not in any meaningful sense “U.S.” corporations. They are corporations. They are interested in making profits. If this means shifting jobs overseas to take advantage of low cost labor, they will do that in a second. The same applies to environmental regulations. And, when it comes to paying taxes, if they can find a legal or semi-legal way to have their profits appear in an Irish or Cayman Islands subsidiary, they will do it, end of story.  What part of getting kicked in the face do you not understand? …

By getting more money for their drug patents and copyrights from foreigners, [international corporations] will effectively be crowding out net exports of U.S. manufacturing goods. The increased patent fees and royalties will increase the demand for the dollar, raising its value, thereby making U.S. manufactured goods less competitive.

To put this in more practical terms, imagine that you are selling fruit and vegetables at an outdoor market. Suppose that the people at the next two stalls are clever hucksters, we’ll call them Bill Gates and Pfizer. Because of their cleverness, they can sell worthless junk at very high prices to almost everyone who passes their stalls. Since most people pass their stalls before they get to yours, the odds are that you won’t sell much fruit and vegetables. Most of your potential customers will have given most of their money away to Bill Gates and Pfizer before they got to your stall. For this reason, it is not just a matter of indifference to U.S. workers that the TPP will suck more money away from foreigners in the form of higher patent fees and royalties, it is actually harmful.