Colgate professor Ed Fogarty assesses debate from global economic perspective

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While President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney jockeyed to dominate Tuesday night’s town hall style debate, political science professor Ed Fogarty paid particular attention to their positions on the international political economy, a subject he studies and teaches at Colgate.

Fogarty noticed that while Obama and Romney both support free trade and globalization, they offered different strategies to “level the playing field — a time-tested phrase implying that others (especially China, a popular target) are cheating.

“Romney’s plan to label China a currency manipulator looks outward for someone to blame. It is either an empty threat or one that Romney would come to regret, as the Chinese government has tremendous leverage as the owner of much of American debt,” Fogarty said.

“Obama’s position is more inwardly focused, applying industrial policy to promote American manufacturing — industrial policy that may well be illegal under international trade law.”

As for jobs in the U.S., Fogarty said that each candidate ultimately offered a “vague strategy to create new, high-value production and employment, but only Obama, acknowledged a specific reality: that some of the jobs lost simply aren’t coming back.”

On the subject of the price of gasoline in the U.S., Fogarty found both candidates’ positions lacking.

“Neither Romney nor Obama gave the obvious, factual answer to the question — that the price of oil is set internationally, and responds to many other factors than supply and demand in the U.S., including the level of instability in the Middle East and economic activity (and downturns) in Europe, China, and the rest of the developing world,” Fogarty said.

“The U.S. president has little control over such things, and neither wanted to admit the limits of U.S. power over oil prices.”

Watch Fogarty’s September 2011 video interview regarding the European Union and international monetary issues, and click here for a playlist of other faculty interviews.