The Washington Post is heavily invested in NAFTA. At the time of the debate it abandoned any pretext of being an objective newspaper, allowing both its opinion and news pages to be overwhelmingly dominated by proponents of the agreement. Since its passage the Post has refused to acknowledge that the agreement has had the intended effect in the United States of lowering the wages of manufacturing workers. (This is textbook economics. By putting U.S. manufacturing workers into more direct competition with their low-paid counterparts in Mexico, the result is that wages of manufacturing workers in the United States fall.)
The Post also refuses to acknowledge that the deal has failed to improve Mexico’s growth. In fact, a lead Post editorial in December 2007 told readers that Mexico’s GDP had quadrupled since 1988, which it attributed to the benefits of NAFTA. The actual increase over this 19 year period was 83 percent, which put Mexico near the bottom in growth for Latin American countries.
The Post’s prohibition of honest discussion of Mexico’s economy is apparently continuing. In a piece on Mexico’s elections today, the Post told readers:
“But annual growth during Calderon’s six years has averaged a middling 2 percent.”
This statement gives a whole new meaning to word “middling.” If we turn to the IMF’s data and look at per capita GDP growth in the years 2006-2011, we find that on average Mexico’s per capital GDP shrank by 0.1 percent annually over this period. This is not middling; this performance places Mexico dead last among Latin American countries (several countries in the Caribbean did worse.)
For some reference points, per capita growth in Argentina averaged 5.8 percent, Bolivia 2.8 percent, Brazil 3.1 percent, Ecuador 2.6 percent, and Peru 5.6 percent. There is nothing middling about Mexico’s economic performance over this period; it was bad.
Economist Dean Baker is co-founder of Center for Economic Policy and Research and writes regularly on CEPR’s Beat the Press blog, where this post first appeared.