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Snowden and Obama Slow Down Globalization

12:00 AM, Nov 9, 2013 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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Then there is energy. Prospective foreign investors, attracted in part by our abundant supply of cheap energy, have to wonder just when the President will decide to move against fracking, reducing the supply of low-priced natural gas, and by how much his war on coal, which fuels about half of the electricity generators in the country, will drive up electricity prices. Or whether he will appease his environmental supporters by cutting us off from Canadian oil supplies. Or what other cost-raising measures the administration will concoct in its campaign against global warming.

They also have to worry about future labor costs. For one thing, meeting the requirements of Obamacare will surely drive costs up, although by how much is difficult or impossible to tell. For another, the president’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board seem intent on giving the trade unions a toe-hold in right-to-work states that have until now been the location of choice for foreign investors, and for American firms seeking relief from uneconomic work rules and wage rates.

“It’s time for folks to focus on doing everything we can to spur growth and create new high-quality jobs,” says a White House spokesman in an appeal to foreign investors to give us your euros, your yen, your yuan, your investments yearning for a decent return. The decline in FDI suggests that foreigners are insufficiently credulous to ignore the risks of which oft-burned home-grown businessmen, sitting on their cash piles, are all too aware. “We can do better,” the president told foreign audiences last week. Indeed.

But he will have to appease critics of NSA’s data-gathering efforts to get trade deals back on track, and reassure foreign investors that America is not a tax and regulatory trap to persuade them to step up their presence here. So far, he seems more willing to rein in NSA surveillance than to rein in the growth of the regulatory state.

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