A Game of No Rules

A Game of No Rules

2018, Economics  -   10 Comments
Ratings: 7.10/10 from 73 users.

Global trade has long been a hot button political issue, but it's reached a fever pitch in recent times. President Donald Trump has urged for free trade between nations, and imposed a series of controversial tariffs that have lead to immense economic insecurity. The promise of equal and reciprocal trade relations sounds appealing on its surface, but is there really such a thing as free trade? The DW Documentary series explores this complex question in A Game of No Rules.

In this modern age, we've been told that isolationism is the enemy of prosperity. But have we been sold a false premise? The film travels to the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Cameroon to test this elusive economic theory.

A cycling factory in Germany has benefited tremendously by flirting with protectionism. Punitive tariffs keep the Chinese from dominating the global bicycle market. Now, China, Taiwan and Germany share the construction and assembly duties on each bicycle sold from the German factory. In the United States, where protectionism is not yet an accepted practice, even the traditional American brands are manufactured entirely in China.

The filmmakers also explore construction and agricultural industries including flooring tiles, onions and chickens. They make visits to wealthy and poor communities alike to discover the disparities that arise from globalization. In addition to the real-world business owners, farmers and factory workers, the film also offers a panel of economic experts who provide valuable historical context to our current trade climate.

Of course, looming over every frame of the film is the threat of a global trade war. As detailed in the film, protectionist policies might serve a useful function at times, but they can also lead to disastrous consequences. After the Great Depression, the United States and Germany both shuttered themselves from global trade through exceedingly high tariffs. The volume of trade dropped by nearly two-thirds, and ultimately ended with the Second World War and the formation of the World Trade Organization.

By delving into identifiable industries and focusing on each affected player within them, A Game of No Rules provides a clear and instructive portrait of global trade.

Directed by: Tilman Achtnich

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Mike Ehrmantraut
10 months ago

Say what you will about the man and make as many slanderous documentaries you feel compelled to - life was much better under Donald J. Trump. And that's a fact.

4 years ago

@Cord Barnes: "we're from the govt and here to help you". More university learned exactly wrong thinking from a course of study that shouldn't need to exist except for the planned marxist/govt takeover of free enterprise.

The BEST thing you could ever learn is that GOVT IS THE PROBLEM and is the prime cause of all human suffering. Best thing you could ever do is to get out of the people's way of letting an unsubsidized free market enterprise do its thing.

A worthwhile govt job would be to keep a hawk's eye watch to prevent govt corruption. To prevent the big boys from corrupting the system. To prevent the globalist marxists from infecting the universities, schools, and govt agencies.

What do people need to keep them out of trouble and not thinking the world owes them a living because govt policy sent all their jobs overseas? A job, where they can earn self respect.

Your notions are exactly wrong:
"it is not realistic to assume that American manufacturers can produce at physical or affordable capacity to sustain the demand"
You must have been born after most of usa industry MOVED their factories to China. Where do you think most things were mass produced before our corrupt politicians allowed our industry to be moved overseas and the items imported at no penalty, ruining many communities and people's lives?
There is very little of significance that is mass produced in Asia that wasn't mass produced in the usa first. Not that difficult to move the factories back. One of the big reasons they left? Unions, another marxist mentality wherein the lame find it much easier to extort than to compete. Soviet Lenin said it best that unions were a great training ground for communism.
There is a reason the non-union Japanese car makers are doing well making cars in the usa while the usa manufacturers move to Canada and Mexico.

"For that to happen, the American economy would have to regress. Even if lawyers, doctors, and computer scientists decided to start working on assembling lines or milking cows"
Where do you come up with this nonsense? Have you not heard of milking machines? Do you think usa milk is imported? Further if you look at REAL numbers, see shadowstats, instead of fiction from govt, the unemployment rate is still above 20% which stands to reason, otherwise there wouldn't be all the homeless nor democrats having time to be screaming hate and cause disturbances where ever they can. We have more than enough people to work assembly lines AND pick our own fruit. Only those who choose to be uninformed believe otherwise.

"US employment standards, epa considerations (which contrary to some beliefs are actually useful for making sure Flint isn’t happening in every state), consumer protections would likely hike up the prices to unsustainable levels."
More made up BS which makes no sense. So then its okay to have horrible working conditions and to pollute somewhere else to keep prices low? And if that pollution travels back via air currents anyway (which it does and is happening now). And how much does that pollution cost later on in disease, expensive hospital bills, and quality of life? And so its fine to cripple or age people in other countries, most of which we would consider to be slave labor, since they cannot save enough to get ahead. Slave labor being the marxist globalist bankster plan, is good as long as its not you and you are dictating policy?

"Countries don’t go from financial and technology centered economies to agricultural and manufacturing ones. Not without some catastrophic impetus."
You need to take a trip outside your little know nothing world. The usa has ALWAYS been and continues to be a huge agricultural powerhouse. It is a major export. Before recent times we were the manufacturing powerhouse and major exporter of many items, we still have a fair bit of manufacturing, just not as much as we did. The only reason that changed was due to govt corruption; selling out the people for money in the politicians pocket.

The only catastrophe needed would to be so blind as to not see that any time you have another country make what you need, you are subservient to them. You are vulnerable to not only direct disputes but if some other country was ticked off at either one of you, they could cause disruptions of what you need. How brilliant would that be?

Did they not teach you anything worthwhile? One of the major ways Wealth is made, is on the factory floor. That is where value is added to raw materials. Until then they are just commodities of low value. The exception to that is when you or a cartel control most of the supply and can limit that, spew out tonnes of propaganda claiming how limited the supply is, such as with diamonds or energy, which in fact are abundant. Then you can gouge the heck out of most everyone for something that should be a cheap commodity.

The universities train most of its students to be good propagandees, to believe the learned experts and authorities without question. It took me a long time to unlearn the university and govt school farce. Question EVERYTHING.

4 years ago

Seems the video gave a fair assessment of international trade. Told some truths about the hypocrisy of the big exporters, claiming to want more free trade ...except in areas/items they want to protect their industry.

Unfortunately the filmmakers stayed away from Japan, one of the best examples of a huge exporter and fierce protectionist, long before China was encouraged and helped to follow their model by the marxist globalist banksters (Rothschild, Rockefeller, etc.)

Years ago, the wonderful usa politicians allowed the Japanese to dump product, below even their cost, to wipe out usa industries, getting rid of their competition. After the usa manufacturers were gone, such as the computer memory chip makers, the prices steadily rose back to where they were. No one would bother jumping back in knowing they would just do it to them again and our wonderful politicians would let them.

To me, countries that export and protect their essential industries are acting in their best interest, which all industrialized countries, except the usa have been doing. Clearly the filmmakers didn't want to get into why that is. There are only two reasons: Corrupt usa politicians and those that agree with subverting the usa to attain a one world govt as the marxist globalists desire.

Why did the Cameroon politicians sign some EU agreement that screwed its own people? Payola is the obvious answer.

If it is expensive to curtail pollution from many industries ...and if China or another country chooses to forego that expense to make their products cheaper, then pollutes even more to transport the products, that certainly doesn't achieve the anti pollution policies and goals of the govt which drove those industries to China. So it would seem such an anti pollution country would then impose tariffs, at least until China stopped polluting.

Yet prior to Trump the usa of the past 70+ years doesn't really consider tariffs, showing that it cared not about pollution nor its industry nor jobs nor its people.

The majority of usa politicians only cared about payola or their bankster overlord's globalist agenda. Yet the marxist globalist bankster owned media, hammer on Trump at every moment for trying to prevent the demise of the usa, which should be no surprise since that is what they desire. As Obama put it: To fundamentally transform the usa. Turn it into a marxist peasant land that his overlord's desire. And so many people fall for the marxist media propaganda, wanting to sell their votes so cheaply for free stuff; getting the govt to steal from someone else to give to them. These people, top to bottom, are simply greedy weasels.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers must have learned not to expose the real reasons why the politicians allow their country's industry and people to be ruined by supposedly lower cost outsiders ...or the filmmakers might not be welcome anywhere. What is the cost of all that pollution? Are subsidized products actually lower cost or just made lower to open additional markets, not caring what happens to the locals, although they almost brushed up against that with the Cameroon onions.

Me thinks it would have been more demonstrative to people had they shown more definitively how the usa in its early days, not just during depressions, also implemented tariffs in order to protect ifs fledgling industries. It would seem wise for all countries to do so, up until the point those industries are gouging the consumer. An easy enough thing to measure, summing all the inputs including a reasonable profit.

The Swiss farmer was doing his countrymen a favor, any country that was fully dependent on other countries for its food (and heat) would be insane, let some dispute get them cut off. Yet Germany's Merkel signed a deal with Russia to make them dependent on Russia for their Natural Gas.

Finally the Germans got rid of that marxist globalist minion Merkel. Way too late though. The damage of her allowing in the middle eastern hordes already done. Where was the protectionism for the people of Germany? Of Sweden? Zero. The globalists had no interest in helping to create jobs and an economy in the middle east, only to ruin their countries so they could be fundamentally transformed into a one world govt.

4 years ago

I like how those two soccer moms hate Trump, but shopping for an American made products, totally ignorant. He is the one who is trying to bring production back to the USA!

Cord Barnes
4 years ago

As someone preparing to do graduate work in public economics, and who engages with policy issues in one of my current positions, I watched this with an open mind but with a critical eye. This documentary makes some good points, however by definition, manufacturing and agriculture are front line casualties of free trade. It does make sense in the case of many of these countries’ markets to impose punitive tariffs or to have a degree of protectionist policies in place. But those countries don’t necessarily have the economic, financial, or socioeconomic infrastructure in place to have booming financial, construction, service, administration, educational, etc etc sectors. In a country like the USA, where daily life tends to draw culturally on so many things (electronics, cars, tables, cabinets, stoves, smartphones, computers) it is not realistic to assume that American manufacturers can produce at physical or affordable capacity to sustain the demand. For that to happen, the American economy would have to regress. Even if lawyers, doctors, and computer scientists decided to start working on assembling lines or milking cows, US employment standards, epa considerations (which contrary to some beliefs are actually useful for making sure Flint isn’t happening in every state), consumer protections would likely hike up the prices to unsustainable levels. 19th and 20th century Americans went that route and it allowed the economy to develop into what it is today. But they did that in the middle of depressions, before there was indoor plumbing, and when the alternative was to sit at home with crumbs to eat every day. In those times, I’m not convinced that an 18 hour workday, with only two bathroom breaks and a 15 minute lunch was a raw deal in exchange for not sleeping out in the wilderness. Countries don’t go from financial and technology centered economies to agricultural and manufacturing ones. Not without some catastrophic impetus.

Devil Travels
4 years ago

Free trade only works for commodities of limited local supply. But it is foolish for someone to voice the promotion of free trade while imposing restrictions to such freedom. Why people keep falling for that political oxymoron is baffling.

Aashish Rai
4 years ago

Very insightful.

4 years ago

And when Donald Trump brings up these same exact points and takes similar protective steps as Germany and other countries, in an attempt to regain lost American jobs and domestic manufacturing industries, he is universally lambasted as a protectionist villain steering the world to another Great Depression.

4 years ago

Great doc. But the leave out an important point regarding the US. Why is it that US is such an important marked for all European anc Chinese companies? The answer is of cause that you can sell a lot in the US. But then the next question becomes: where does the US get all its purchasing power from? And the answer is: By lending money from China. So the rest of the world is now "hooked" on the US being able to keep borrowing money so it can buy more stuff from the rest of world.