Katie doesn't understand economics? Episode 1.

[I'm regularly blindsided by capitalicious stories or other fundamental tenets of truth that are apparently so universally understood by all people that matter* except somehow me I momentarily doubt my capacity for reason. In this spirit, I present part one of a one-or-more part series
*This might be the problem.]

Yesterday, NPR ran a story about the Obama administration's push to stimulate the economy by encouraging the export of US-made goods.

Basically, there are a ton (several million tons, actually) of people outside the US that want to buy stuff. If the US, as a nation, could get these people to buy USian stuff, there'd potentially be more factory jobs in the US, ergo the US economy would improve. Got it.

The Obama administration (and friends) are interested in boosting exports by, among other things, signing new free trade agreements. Free trade agreements would make it easier for consumers in foreign countries to buy US-made products. Got it.

This is also where I apparently don't get it. Don't free trade agreements also open up US markets to goods made in other countries? In essence, just as a free trade agreement between the US and Columbia would make it easier to buy USian goods in Columbia, it would also make it easier to buy Columbian-made goods in the US, which could lower the domestic demand for US-made products.

With all the free trade agreements the United States has in place, I'm guessing there's some data out there on both the benefits and costs of free trade to the US economy, and also US workers (a tangential consideration, as always). Maybe this information is why Obama is was formerly so upset about NAFTA.

Free trade can't possibly be all good things to all people, can it? Or am I missing something?

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