Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Rand Corporation and America's Simpleton in Chief

There may be nothing Donald Trump likes better than to bash America's NATO partners as freeloaders who are feeding off the US economy, dragging America down.

A study conducted by the Rand Corporation, America's venerable military think tank, finds that Trump is talking crap.

The researchers started by building an entirely new database of thousands of U.S. treaties and security agreements, an effort that took six months. They also obtained 50 years of data on overseas troop assignments.

They then merged those data sets with U.S. and global trade numbers. They tracked changes in the number and nature of U.S. security commitments between 1955 and 2004, and then matched them to any subsequent bumps or dips in the trade numbers.

They found clear evidence that those overseas commitments do indeed strengthen trade between America and other countries, likely worth tens of billions of dollars every year. In fact, they estimated that doubling the number of treaties could expand U.S. trade, especially imports, by 34 percent. Doubling troop numbers would increase trade by up to 15 percent.

What about the group that claims that slashing America's overseas military presence by upwards of 80% could save Washington $126 billion a year?

The RAND researchers found that even a smaller 50 percent cut would cost the U.S. economy as much as $490 billion in lost wages and profits.

The study provides a solid foundation for debating the value of America's overseas commitments, the researchers wrote, but it's not likely to be the final word. For one thing, it did not capture the possible long-term economic benefits of freeing up money from overseas commitments and investing it elsewhere. But it also only looked at direct effects on trade, not on foreign investments or other international capital flows—meaning that its estimates may be, if anything, conservative.

Those limitations, however, are not likely to change the study's bottom-line conclusion, the researchers wrote. A wholesale cutback of overseas commitments would almost certainly cost the United States more than it saves, perhaps by as much as 3-to-1.

“Policymakers who reduce these commitments would face not only the immediate problems of how and where to make the reductions,” the researchers concluded, “but also the future problems of a poorer United States.”

But this is post-truth America where beliefs, fueled by suspicion, fear and anger, cannot be displaced by facts and logic.  As Joe Stiglitz notes, America under Trump is a rogue state and it is not at all reluctant to engage in self-harm.


Anonymous said...

He, he, he - at least they used word "almost."
"A wholesale cutback of overseas commitments would almost certainly cost the United States more than it saves"

This is for SURE certain and utter nonsense coming from group that promotes and benefits from militaristic policies and interventions.

Switching of 100,000+ of men into a productive workforce will be bad for the economy? Just Iraq costed USA more than trillion $ in borrowed money.
Looks like that in order to bash Drumpf, Mound fueled by suspicion, fear and anger (somewhat justified) is loosing his logic...

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, A..non, you can get your hands on the Rand research and their numbers or - wait a minute - your expertise is lightyears ahead of theirs anyway. What was I thinking?

Anonymous said...

Mound, in your pursuit of Drumpf you have lost your judgement.
If you believe in propaganda spewed by a financial-military-industrial complex, you have simply lost your mind.
I miss your pre-Trump blog. Hope that you will regain your senses.
For now, sayonara...
A..non I

The Mound of Sound said...

Don't let the door hit ya...

Anonymous said...

I too am disappointed by the Mounds conclusion.

Weakening alliances could well mean fewer arms deals; the backbone of the USA economy.
The Rand Corp is a mouth piece for arms sales and US hegemony.


The Mound of Sound said...

A..non and you too, TB, if you want to slag me at least get your facts straight. This is from SourceWatch, about as credible a source as you'll find.

"Two-thirds of Rand's research involves national security issues. This is divided into Project Air Force, the Arroyo Center (serving the needs of the Army), and the National Defense Research Institute (providing research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the defense agencies). The other third of Rand's research is devoted to issues involving health, education, civil and criminal justice, labor and population studies, and international economics."[4]

More recent sources such as RAND’s 2005 annual report show less than one-half of RAND's research involves national security issues with clients ranging from fortune 500 corporations to other non profit institutions.[5] Their research is frequently cited by the media and is ranked fifth in the latest survey of think tank media citations by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) which categorizes RAND as "Centrist".[6]

Now if you need to run your mouths, take it somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

The Rand Corp has a somewhat chequered past.


The Mound of Sound said...

Of course it has a chequered past, TB. So too did Robert McNamara. He's dead.

I have read a number of Rand research papers over the past decade which is why this dismissive attitude from those who plainly haven't but want to regress to Vietnam pisses me off.

Have you read this study or the research behind it? Have you got some better evidence or research? I know the answer and so do you. Don't rag my ass until you have something worthwhile to add.

Northern PoV said...

I've read your post Mound ... and the little dust-up with some of your regulars here...

I guess you read the Rand doc so the rest of us don't have to, thanks.

And Rand Corp. is defending the military-industrial complex and American supremacy? Quelle surprize.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPoV I have read a number of Rand papers over the years and rarely do I detect any obvious bias, especially industry-oriented.

Rand produced a withering analysis of the F-35 several years ago. That's right. It tore a huge strip off America's biggest ever defence project, its biggest defence contractor and this so-called superplane. It concluded the F-35 couldn't out-turn, out-climb or out run its predicted adversaries and, once its minimal stores of missiles were gone and it had to present its anything but stealthy rear quarter to the adversary while it egressed hostile airspace it would fare rather badly.

That's one of a number of credible, balanced studies that have come out of Rand. Hardly the outfit that A..non and TB imagine.

Northern PoV said...

"Rand produced a withering analysis of the F-35 several years ago."

OK but that's really just challenging a particular product not the whole edifice. "inside baseball" comes to mind