Do you watch “The Americans” on F/X? John Tamny shares some thoughts on the economics revealed as part of the storylines.
Unknown, however, is whether the fifth season of the television thriller will measure up to the previous ones. It’s unknown simply because the producers of the show have chosen to make U.S. grain sales to the former Soviet Union an underlying theme. In doing so, they’ve managed to reveal a misunderstanding of basic economics. In fairness to the producers, President Trump’s chief trade adviser, Peter Navarro, shares their confusion.
Navarro believes, as do the Jennings (and by extension, the Soviet foreign policy establishment), that dependence on foreign producers represents a national security threat. The Jennings believe that the U.S., a seller of grain to the Soviets, could starve the U.S.S.R.’s people by virtue of its agricultural scientists creating a bug that would compromise its grain crop. In response, they’re spying on a Soviet defector who is working as a consultant to the U.S.D.A., plus they’ve murdered an American scientist who has helped produce the bug. Basic economics says they needed to do neither since grain, like oil, automobiles, t-shirts, and anything else, is produced globally, and can be sourced globally.