The World: "No deal, Mr. Obama."

free trade, South KoreaIt appears that Mr. Obama's recent trip to Asia was a lesson in getting used to rejection. The grand plan was to return home with two hefty victories in hand: a free trade agreement with South Korea and a unified approach among allies to spur global economic activity and shake the world out of the present doldrums it occupies. Alas, success slipped from his grasp; actually, it was never even close, as the American president whiffed and missed at a waist high fastball right down the middle, arriving back at the White House with nothing to show but an ever-growing collection of frequent flyer miles.

Let's break down what happened.

South Korea: Mr. Obama and South Korean president, Lee Myung Bak, both swore to the high heavens that the new free trade agreement would be signed and sealed by the time by the time they met in South Korea. The concept of a free trade between the two countries was first opened by the Bush administration and then reopened by our current president, desperate to accomplish something “statesmanlike” overseas to detract attention from the economy back home still lingering on life support. The sticking points turned out to be barriers placed upon US cars and beef, and Mr. Obama held out for more protections for American workers.

Global Economy: Straight from a sound thrashing at the hands of Mr. Bak, Mr. Obama fled, tail between his legs, to a meeting with Chinese president, Hu Jintao, which went just as badly as the South Korean debacle. Jintao refused to accept nonbinding numerical targets for limiting China's trade surplus and, while one US official claimed the United States and China “have gotten to a good place” on the issue of rebalancing trade, Chinese spokesmen weren't so eager to concur, claiming that America, as issuer of the global reserve currency, should consider the interest of the “global economy” and our own “national circumstances.”

Furthermore, Mr. Obama's message that “pump priming” economies with cheap credit and government stimulus is meeting with stiff resistance from other allies, Britain, Brazil, and Germany, to be precise. Perhaps German Chancellor Merkel summed up the sentiment best with an admonition that deficit laden countries (like the United States) should focus on improving their own competitiveness rather than trying to restrain other nations' from selling goods.

In other words, “No deal, Mr. Obama. Not a single, solitary deal to hang your miserable hat upon.”

The American Monetary Association Team

American Monetary Association

Flickr / SEIU International

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