Update on the changing U.S. Presidential primary calendar

August 22, 2007

After my recent blog post on the U.S. Presidential primary calendar, I was very interested to read an article in this week’s Economist on Republicans in South Carolina moving their primary date earlier, potentially leading New Hampshire to move its primary earlier (apparently by state law, its primary has to be earlier than other states’) and possibly causing Iowa to move its caucuses earlier to 2007 (which its Governor doesn’t agree with). 

According to a graphic in the Economist’s story, a number of states or state parties are considering moving their primaries forward. If the states agreed amongst themselves, a more organised primary calendar could be agreed to that didn’t systematically advantage or disadvantage any state. Read the rest of this entry »

Pick your U.S. Presidential candidate

August 15, 2007

Thanks to Jason Soon over at Catallaxy, here is a fun test to rate the U.S. Presidential candidates against your views. The test doesn’t have many questions on economics, which would no doubt change the results. Read the rest of this entry »

On the U.S. Presidential primaries timetables

August 14, 2007

Many people have commented in the last few years on the apparent oddness of the situation that voters in two small U.S. States, New Hampshire and Iowa, have had a seemingly disproportionate influence on the U.S. Presidential primaries compared to much more populous states.

Recently, some states (e.g. California) have wanted to have a greater impact on the results of the Presidential primaries by moving the dates of their primary elections closer to the start of the year. The date of each State’s primary is determined (I think) by state legislation, and here is the current calendar of state primaries. 

Many states will have held their primaries by Tuesday 5 February 2008, barely 9 months before the actual election – and by the end of that day a cumulative majority of delegates to both the Republican Party’s and Democratic Party’s conventions will have been elected. By the end of Tuesday 4 March 2008, 83.6% of delegates to the Democratic Party convention and 76.4% of delegates to the Republican Party convention will have been elected (source), by which time the it seems quite likely the Presidential Democratic and Republican candidates will be known.

I can understand each U.S. state wanting to have a greater impact on the course of the Presidential nomination. But the cumulative effect of each state moving the date of its primary earlier in the year is that the primary elections may end up being held a very long time before the election proper and the states may compete with each other to have earlier and earlier primaries. It is conceivable that a state could move its primary to the year before the election (this was discussed in a recent edition of the Economist). A question then arises as to when it is desirable to hold the primaries and what format the primaries take. Read the rest of this entry »

The US Department of Commerce ensuring “Fair Trade”

February 20, 2007

The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Office (ITA) has the following web page on “Ensuring Fair Trade”, a reading of which shows that “fair trade” means quite a different thing in the US than it does in Australia.

I particularly like the phrase “Unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies distort the free flow of goods and adversely affect American business in the global marketplace.” in the third para below – are they opposed only to “unfair” government subsidies or to government subsidies per se, and I wonder what they think non-US countries’ attitudes to the US Farm Bill.

Ah – questions, questions…

Ensuring Fair Trade

ITA monitors industry access to overseas markets and works to remove costly barriers to product and service exports. According to a University of Michigan study, the average U.S. family of four still stands to gain an estimated $7,800 per year if there was total elimination of global barriers to trade in goods and services. The World Bank has reported that the elimination of global trade barriers could lift 300-500 million of the world’s poor out of poverty over the next 15 years. Read the rest of this entry »

The US trade deficit and currency revaluations

February 20, 2007

From this weeks Economist:

America’s trade deficit in goods reached $836 billion in 2006. Congressional Democrats seized on the figures to lambast the Bush administration and called for “actions to stand up for America” by ending the “unfair trade practices” of the countries and regions that account for most of the deficit: China ($233 billion), the European Union ($117 billion) and Japan ($88 billion).

I wonder if these “unfair trade practices” include more efficiently produced and/or more attractive goods from China, the EU and Japan, as well as the current valuations of the respective currencies (witness the recent pressure from the US for China to revalue its currency, and the repegging of the yuan to appreciate against the US dollar) ?

Now I don’t know if the currencies are “reasonably” valued (however this may be assessed), but it does seem odd (although understandable in terms of US domestic politics) for the US to appear to attempt to protect its industries by increasing the costs of imports through revalued currencies. But maybe there are unfair trade practices. I don’t know.

Maybe any currency revaluations will constitute a form of protectionism. If the US dollar continues its general downwards trend, it may discourage US consumers buying imports and reduce the trade deficit, which seems  a strategy of some US politicians. It’ll be interesting to watch US trade politics given that there is a stronger current of protectionism in Congress and the weakened President’s trade negotiating authority runs out in July this year.

Electoral redistricting in California and the US

January 12, 2007

It truly seems bizarre to Australian commentators that US state legislatures can draw their own electoral boundaries; the boundaries for State Senate districts in the Los Angeles area are very unusual to Australian eyes indeed! Read the rest of this entry »

A vote-swap web-site for the Democrats/Greens in the US?

November 10, 2006

Something that struck me about the recent US mid-term elections was the closeness of many results – indeed, to voters in a preferential system it would seem that different results may well have emerged in the Virginia senate election if a preferential system was in force. Of course, there’s the famous case of the probable effect of Nader running in the 2000 Presidential election, taking votes from Gore.

Given the closeness of many races, I wonder if it would be electorally strategic for the Democratic Party to set up a vote-swap web-site or other system, where Green voters in a close race (say were the opinion polls give the different at 10% or less) could swap their votes with Democrat voters in races where the Democrats are thought to be romping it in (say in the NY senate race). A similar system operates in the UK for Labour and Liberal Democrats.