Saturday, February 21, 2004

THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF TRADE DEFICITS

Huge container ships steam into this port every day loaded with clothes and shoes, furniture and video games, electronics and aircraft parts made in Asia.

On their return trip, those same ships often cross the Pacific half empty, bearing chemicals, meat, grain and engines and routinely stuffed with hay or scrap paper.

"This is what the nation's trade imbalance really looks like," said Mark Knudsen, the deputy director of the Port of Seattle. "We've got so much empty cargo space, it pays to ship over hay for Chinese animals, or scrap paper to be recycled into packaging for Barbie dolls."


John MacArthur interviewed stevedores for his seminal book, The Selling of Free Trade and found much the same thing.

America may no longer be a manufacturing dynamo, but that scrap paper recycling promises to be a real growth industry.

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