What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Chinese Import Tariffs are a Bad Idea

October 24, 2011, 2:16 PM
Shutterstock_8209264

I just got back from a vacation and during that time I got to do something I love - read all sorts of intellectually stimulating stuff. It re-affirmed some simple knowledge: I love the Economist...

One of the most interesting stories I read was one I hadn't been following at all prior to my trip. Covered in both The Economist and The Atlantic the issue of Chinese import tariffs grabbed my attention.

Basically, there is popular support in the US for protectionism that would tax Chinese imports, and hopefully restore some American manufacturing jobs. A bill has been created suggesting that we tax imports based on the Chinese currency being artificially undervalued to give Chinese imports unfair advantage (which is very true, but probably not as egregiously as proponents of this bill claim).

At the heart of this issue is whether global competition is good or bad. The Economist killed it with their coverage; Who's afraid of the dragon?

What's most interesting, is that there's finally some data about the benefits of global competition, which previously has been pretty rare.

In a more standard exploration, economists tried to study the costs associated with foreign competition. What they found was meaningful; 0.77% lower employment per $1000 of import exposure per worker. That's big, especially in the most affected areas (several percentage points lower employment).

However, Nicholas Bloom, Mirko Draka, and John Van Reenen tried to study the benefit that countries got from foreign competition and came up with some fascinating stats. For every 10% rise in Chinese imports in a firms industry, there was: a 3.2% increase in patent filing, a 3.6% increase in IT spending, and a 12% increase in R&D. 

While competition is eating the low end of the market, it's forcing innovation from incumbents (read: a good thing).

As a nation, we should be accepting this challenge, and fighting to innovate more and shift more of our workforce to knowledge work.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

Chinese Import Tariffs are ...

Newsletter: Share: