And you wonder why we are unpopular

Bloomberg has an article on the growing unpopularity of the US:

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned of “troubling” signs that the US is losing global influence as other powers align together and win favor among nations not yet aligned. . . .

“Somebody from a developing country said to me, ‘what we get from China is an airport. What we get from the United States is a lecture,’” said Summers, a Harvard University professor and paid contributor to Bloomberg TV.

Obviously, lecturing other countries is not the best way to win friends and influence people. Better to lead by example. But it’s actually far worse than Summers suggests.

Over the past 4 decades, many if not most of our “lectures” have been US officials arrogantly telling less developed nations (and even developed places) that they needed to follow the “Washington Consensus”. You remember the Washington Consensus, the idea that countries should refrain from protectionism and industrial policies.

Now the US has abandoned the Washington Consensus and decided to go all in with protectionism and industrial policy. And that’s because we supposedly need to do this to keep from falling behind. But weren’t we told that these policies slow economic development?

It’s annoying when you get lectured to by more successful countries. It’s especially annoying then the lecture comes from self righteous societies that don’t follow their own advice. Is it any wonder that developing countries have lost respect for the US government.

I have too.



20 Responses to “And you wonder why we are unpopular”

  1. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    18. April 2023 at 22:15

    While not perfect we still run gigantic trade deficits necessary to give the rest of the world a reserve currency.

    And some of the recent break down on free trade is coming from disputes with companies threatening military action. Geopolitical concerns with an active threat trumps economics. Semiconductors are a big one now and having our number one military adversary threatening our supply of the most important ingredient for military weapons is a big deal.

  2. Gravatar of Solon of the East Solon of the East
    19. April 2023 at 00:10

    Verily, there is a globalist mindset in Washington, and that can lead to hubris. A new buzz expression is “global engagement.” Heady stuff.

    No one blushes anymore when discussing the US military obligation to “global security.” Merely defending borders is for hicks.

    At the risk of sounding like a nativist (which is synonymous with being a Putin stooge) one can wonder if this is the result of multinationals coopting the US military-foreign policy establishment into being a global guard service.

    In the old days, a multinational might be a resource extraction giant or banana plantation. And they influenced policy.

    Today the multinationals dwarf the old globalists. Apple, Disney, BlackRock, GM, Microsoft et al have operations and investments everywhere. And trillion-dollar market caps.

    Worth noting is the globalist commercial giants have fiduciary obligations to shareholders that trump any concerns for the welfare of a particular nation. Patriots they are not (also not rabid nationalists—so it is a mix of good and bad, in some ways).

    It is interesting to ponder that such nations as Mexico or Thailand do not seem to have foreign policies, and certainly do not deploy troops globally.

    So…who is Washington representing when they hector other nations about the right way to operate—but in reality, the hectoring always seems to say, “open you markets up, and human rights is not on the front burner.”

    The topic of Russia may be an exception. Putin really does seem like an old-fashioned despot. I hope for his quick passage to a new life.

    A more troubling question is the direction of Beijing. If you believe in human rights….

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. April 2023 at 07:23

    Sean , You said:

    “And some of the recent break down on free trade is coming from disputes with companies threatening military action.”

    Very little of the trend is based on military factors, it’s mostly old-fashioned mercantilism (under both Trump and Biden.)

  4. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    19. April 2023 at 16:46

    Again, Sumner tries to paint a rosy picture of China with his “anonymous source”. The facts, however, tell us otherwise. China is not well liked. They have the same reputational problem as the United States, in fact, it’s even worse.

    1. They harvest organs from the falun gong.
    2. They imprison uighers over religion and the color of their skin (not han).
    3. Their prisoners are slaves, forced to work for nothing, and the products they create are sold by CCP owned companies.
    4. People go missing daily over religion, political views, refusing to permit CCP ownership of their companies, their international transactions, their travel records, or whatever else the CCP deems suspicious and malicious. The CCP surveillance program not only flags misbehavior, it also flags those who travel abroad for significant periods of time in an effort to curtail freedom of movement and prevent and isolate dissenting views. They even setup police stations abroad to go after Chinese dissidents, and anyone else deemed a threat to China.
    5. Their wolf warrior strategy to diplomacy has isolated them in the same way that America is isolating itself. Businesses are fleeing due to economic coercion (Australia, Japan), and other states are preparing for their constant military advances (India, Taiwan, PH, VN, etc).
    6. China is the most corrupt, disgusting, totalitarian regime on the face of the earth, and everyone around the world knows it.

    And since Sumner relies on his anonymous sources, let me throw an anonymous source in here too: I also have a Chinese friend who just happens to be a Jehovah’s witness, and who happens to reside abroad, and who lo and behold had her bank accounts in China frozen at the whim of an apparatchik. Her family was arrested because of her religious beliefs.

    Sumner loves to paint a rosy picture of China, and their Nazi Germany 2.0, but there is nothing rosy about it.

    Of course, we all know that Sumner supports this type of thuggery because he believes in a one world totalitarian state (one world nato). In Sumner’s mind, you are not an individual, but a group. He hates JW just as much as he hates southern Christian conservatives who support Trump. He doesn’t believe in self determination; he believes in domination. It’s his way or the highway. And if you disagree, then you are anti-science (R. Malone or P. McCullough), a nationalist (just patriots) or a terrorist (unarmed buffoons trespassing)

  5. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    19. April 2023 at 21:10

    “But weren’t we told that these policies slow economic development?”

    They don’t slow development; the country had significant tariffs for almost all of the nation’s history. Tariffs certainly didnt stop us during the victorian era, where America was probably growing at its fastest rate.

    It doesn’t make sense to give China our intellectual property, then feed their propaganda machine with real time data, which is what they require to do business in their country. You realize they force companies to provide this data right? It doesn’t make sense to permit TikTok to use camera’s and microphones to gather information whenever it feels like it, even when you are not using it, or collect every letter you type on your phone, which is precisely what it does. That’s spyware. The Indians already banned it, and rightfully so.

    You are wrong. You are just totally wrong. You’ve been wrong for the past forty years. If the whole world traded freely, then yes that would be great. But the world doesn’t work like that. You are not living in reality, and your delusion is destroying the wealth of a country because you believe in Ricardo’s theoretically presupposition. Ricardo’s world doesn’t exist anywhere but on a blackboard. He was wrong about trade, just like he was wrong about the labor theory of value. There is more than one variable involved. You need to learn the difference between single variate and multi variate analysis. You are research is too simplified.

  6. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    19. April 2023 at 21:36

    Scott is just freaking out because he knows that Robert F. Kennedy jr and Donald John Trump will be the candidates, and that both of them are liberty loving patriots and not elite globalists.

  7. Gravatar of TMC TMC
    20. April 2023 at 06:52

    The protectionism and industrial policy have been mostly directed at China, so it would make sense for the Chinese to feel this way.

    Other countries have benefitted from this as production is (more quickly) transferring to their countries. They do have good reason to dislike us for our constant hectoring on social issues though. Often on ideals we do not live up to ourselves. And frankly they see us from the lense of the social media and Hollywood content, which is basically the worst of us.

  8. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    20. April 2023 at 08:27

    ‘And some of the recent break down on free trade is coming from disputes with companies threatening military action.’

    What companies are threatening military action? Against the US?

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    20. April 2023 at 08:50


    Sounds like a bettable proposition. I’m in.

  10. Gravatar of sean sean
    20. April 2023 at 10:51

    Sorry that was a mistype…..meant countries. Which on semiconductors is the big one since Taiwan has war risks with China.

    I didn’t agree with Trumps tariffs but they were relatively small. Now that China has turned bellicose it makes a lot of sense to move production out of the country and either inshoring, mexico, or more friendly countries.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. April 2023 at 12:24

    TMC, The protectionism is also aimed at our allies (Europe, South Korea, Canada, etc.)

    Sean, You said:

    “Now that China has turned bellicose it makes a lot of sense to move production out of the country and either inshoring, mexico, or more friendly countries.”

    Actually, that makes war more likely.

  12. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    21. April 2023 at 21:30

    Sean, you make it sound like the trade deficit is a problem, or even a sacrifice tha the US makes.

    In reality, the US creates dollars without any effort, and gets washing machines in return. What’s not to like?

    (If the Fed does a halfway decent job of targeting almost anything, even inflation, you won’t notice the missing dollars.)

  13. Gravatar of kangaroo kangaroo
    22. April 2023 at 05:17

    Much of the production that’s moving out of China is doing so for more prosaic economic reasons, init? For one, I thought part of the story is that China’s lock downs and resulting production shutdowns drove a move to diversify production – so some production is leaving China, but it’s hardly all. For two, I understood that rising costs in China are making production in other countries more competitive (e.g., Mexico).

    Regarding economic protectionism: Clinton embraced, and Obama reluctantly followed, the (correct) idea that everyone is be better off with free trade. But the classic Democrat has always hated free trade – classic Democrats even hate free trade within the US. 🙂 that’s why all the new semi-conductor money has all kinds of commie strings attached to it like providing “quality day care”. Biden openly admires the massive government regulation system instituted by Roosevelt. What else would you expect but more regulations, more government employees (e.g., IRS), more trade restrictions and more just generally Democrats introducing ways that they can take a cut of any cash that’s changing hands.

    Trump’s protectionism was an exception for Repubs. But my understanding was that much of it was rolled back for the obvious reason that it didn’t work very well.

  14. Gravatar of kangaroo kangaroo
    22. April 2023 at 07:15

    Also regarding 1945-1970 American prosperity: seems like it would have been hard for the US to *not* be prosperous during that time, with the industrial infrastructure of every other major power completely destroyed and male populations decimated. IMO during that period rising wages weren’t a function of pro-labor policy or union activism, but rather pro-labor policy and union activism were possible and successful because of a massive world wide labor shortage caused by the war. By the early 1960s, industrial capacity was ramping up in other countries, hence more competition and a more competitive wage environment internationally resulting in the long steady decline of union bargaining power and employment in the US.

    Dems like Biden want to replay the storybook 1950s by reimposing the regulatory environment of that period. But without the same international labor (and industrial capacity) shortage, how can this possibly succeed? It can’t, but one way to try to save the system is to build walls that dam-up the natural force of labor supply and demand at the border.

    It’s really amazing though how powerful the storybook belief is. If you just browse Reddit for a few minutes, you’ll see these ridculous claims everywhere about the storybook past – “my aunt (grandma or whatever) raised three kids and sent them all to college and bought a house and paid for medical care on minimum wage in 1960s!”

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. April 2023 at 07:13

    Matthias, That’s right.

    kangaroo, You said:

    “But the classic Democrat has always hated free trade”

    Actually, the Dems are traditionally the free trade party.

    “But my understanding was that much of it was rolled back for the obvious reason that it didn’t work very well.”

    Biden has kept most of it in place, and even gone further in a few areas. But you are right that it didn’t work very well.

    I agree with your second comment.

  16. Gravatar of Kangaroo Kangaroo
    24. April 2023 at 17:01

    ssumner “Actually, the Dems are traditionally the free trade party.”

    Seems like in my lifetime – the NAFTA period – the Dems and their unions have always been about protectionism. It was a big deal when Clinton supported NAFTA, I remember a news spot with Clinton and a bunch of former presidents pushing it.

    I understood that Biden kept most of what survived the Trump admin, but I thought that Trump was forced to pull back some of his own agenda because allies were very irked, and because it wound up hurting many US companies and workers.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. April 2023 at 04:28

    Kangaroo, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama? Which one’s were protectionists?

  18. Gravatar of Michael F. Michael F.
    25. April 2023 at 16:34

    The reputation is lost because of Sumner’s neocon and neolib globalists.

    * They want no voter ID’s. The republicans, particularly in places like Georgia and South Carolina, have submitted bills that would offer to provide these ID’s for free, yet Scott’s social justice warriors say it’s too difficult for poor people to visit a government office to get something for free. The rest of the world doesn’t consider that good policy.

    * They use lawfare as intimidation tactics. Whether it’s global sanctions threats, or suing Alex Jones for a billion, or sending the Feds to harass small time farmers like the Bundy’s in Idaho, or threats to remove journalists they disagree with: the globalists make a mockery of freedom of expression and viciously attack anyone who stands up to them. Is it surprising that the rest of the world would seek to distance themselves from this behavior.

    * Trans drag shows where men grind on seven year olds doesn’t reveal a positive image abroad. Outside of Europe and the U.S., grinding on seven year olds is not considered hip or progressive. Most countries call that grooming.

    * The democrats now refuse to have debates in the primary, presumably because their preferred corrupt globalist candidate Joseph “bought and paid for” Biden is afraid to stand on the same stage as Robert F. Kennedy jr, who would absolutely destroy him. Democratic countries have debates; they don’t hide in a basement.

    * The globalists want to pack the court, because they don’t like the courts rulings. And folks, that is not just a U.S. proposal, but proposal set forth by globalist actors in a number of countries, including Israel, as a way to gain control over constitutional legislation which would permit the merger of corporation and government, presumably, to pave the way for GLOBAL stakeholderism. Sumner supports this proposal, as does the weirdo Klaus Schwab.

    * Democrat run cities are failing: we can see that in Baltimore, Chicago, SFO, Philadelphia, and most parts of NYC, where everyone is afraid to leave their homes after dusk. The rest of the world sees this and doesn’t think it’s a very good idea to follow those “progressive” policies. People in Moscow, for example, don’t think it’s hip to smoke crack on a street corner, yell profanities, then pass out in pajamas. That’s not something smart people seek to emulate.

    In short, the woke cultural globalists have made the west look less appealing. That means less investment, less growth, less opportunity.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. April 2023 at 14:24

    Michael, Does Trump want to debate?

    I do agree that Moscow is less tolerant of gay rights. Heck, Moscow is less tolerant of all human rights.

  20. Gravatar of c1ue c1ue
    1. May 2023 at 07:31

    The problem with the Triffin nonsense is that foreign countries, overall, have completely sat out the massive increase in US debt since 2012.
    While the US national debt has basically doubled from $16T to $31T – foreign holders of US treasuries have, in total, been under $8T the entire 11 years since 2012. So the extra issuance was not for the benefit of foreign countries use of US dollars (ouch that was hard to even type in sarcasm) but for the US’ own purposes.

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