"How one U.S. company is trying to surf the tides of foreign trade" PBS NewsHour 9/8/2016
SUMMARY: Trade has become a major theme of this year's presidential race -- how it affects jobs, wages and manufacturing in the United States. Economics correspondent Paul Solman takes a look at one California-based surfboard company that has been bruised by its Chinese competition, and how the effects of foreign trade have impacted politics.
PAUL SOLMAN (NewsHour): In San Clemente, California, Brad Parks and Shad Eischen, confined to wheelchairs since their teens, about to shred the surf.
SHAD EISCHEN, Surfer: I figured, if I'm still alive now, you know, this is the least thing that's going to worry me.
PAUL SOLMAN: OK, sit-down surfing on a waveski, but plenty of challenge if you're paraplegic.
BRAD PARKS, Surfer: I'm having just a blast out here just meeting new guys and being down here and surfing.
PAUL SOLMAN: The man who designed and shaped their Waveskis is surfing legend Steve Boehne, who regular viewers might recall complaining about unfair trade here on the “NewsHour” three years ago.
STEVE BOEHNE, Founder, Infinity Surfboards: Ninety-five percent of the boards being sold in the world weren't made by us in California, who started the surfboard industry. They're being made in other countries. And so my workers are competing for a job against a guy in another country who's making a 10th of his wages.
PAUL SOLMAN: This has become a main theme of this year's presidential campaign. But it turns out Steve Boehne was ahead of the curve, or at least ahead of most economists, who have argued since Adam Smith that trade is the key to economic growth by spurring competition and thus lowering prices, and arguing that, in our era, technology replaces jobs, not cheap foreign labor.
GORDON HANSON, Economist, University of California, San Diego: But as we went into the 2000s, with the rise of China, the situation changed.
PAUL SOLMAN: It's what economist Gordon Hanson learned from a soon-to-be published academic study he co-authored, that Chinese imports really did hurt U.S. wages and employment, but selectively.
GORDON HANSON: What we were surprised by was that those effects were not distributed kind of broadly and evenly across blue-collar workers in the United States, but really concentrated on industries and workers and communities that produce goods that compete in the same arenas that China does.