Best columns: Business
German cars are good for America
The Washington Post
If President Trump wants a trade fight, “Germany is about the worst target one can pick,” said Jennifer Rubin. On his recent trip to Europe, Trump reportedly decried the fact that Germany sells “millions of cars” in the U.S., vowing that “we’re going to stop that” and adding that “the Germans are bad, very bad” on trade. This is “ridiculous” for a number of reasons. For starters, Germany is our fifth-largest trading partner. The U.S. sold approximately $50 billion in goods and services to Germany over the past year, and our trade deficit with the country actually decreased by $10 billion in 2016. Germany also plows billions of dollars it receives from American consumers back into the American economy—in manufacturing, finance, and insurance, among other industries. German direct investment in the U.S. tripled between 2012 and 2014, and was worth $255 billion in 2015. U.S. direct investment in Germany, by contrast, was just $108 billion. German firms and their affiliates employ more than 670,000 Americans. And those German cars Trump wants to target? Most of them are built at factories in the U.S. by American workers, including BMWs in South Carolina, Mercedes- Benzes in Alabama, and Volkswagens in Tennessee. The Germans are efficient manufacturers, and they benefit from a cheap euro. But that doesn’t make them trade cheaters.
Air travel never had a ‘golden age’
The New York Times
Claustrophobic planes, endless security lines, and boarding snafus have people longing for the days “when people actually looked forward to flying,” said Patrick Smith. But while it’s true that air travel used to feel a little more special—I remember when men wore suits on the plane and cheesecake desserts were served in coach—you wouldn’t actually want to fly like people did in the 1960s. For one thing, flying “has become such a melee because so many people now have the means to partake in it.” The average cost of a ticket, adjusted for inflation, has declined 50 percent over the past 35 years, including add-on fees.
In the “good old days,” you may have had “more legroom and a hot meal,” but it also took three stops to go from Albany, N.Y., to St. Louis, and 14 hours to fly coast to coast. If you missed a flight, you didn’t wait an hour; you could be stranded for days. Nowadays, “pretty much any two major cities in the world are now connected through at most one stop.” As for safety, there hasn’t been a major crash involving a legacy American carrier in more than 15 years. During the 1960s, the U.S. had an average of four major crashes every year. “No, you don’t have to love flying. But you shouldn’t take it for granted, either.”