Killing the TPP was easy—though I suspect it will make a comeback after Donald Trump renegotiates a few bits and pieces and then loudly announces that he's made it into the greatest trade deal in the history of the republic. But what about NAFTA? What exactly does Trump want to do? Zeeshan Aleem writes that a transition team memo makes it clear that NAFTA is at the top of Trump's to-do list:

Suppose Trump wants to keep the US in the pact but put his self-professed negotiating skills to work in crafting what he insists would be a better version of the deal....There are a number of ways to pursue that end goal, but Trump’s rhetoric suggests he wants to do it by raising tariffs on imports from Mexico. That’s something he’d have difficulty getting Mexico to agree to, so he’d have more latitude to do it if he were to actually withdraw from NAFTA. But withdrawal is a tricky business, given how deeply the countries’ economies rely on each other.

....It would require loads of American businesses bringing existing components of their supply chains and outsourced services back onshore to avoid tariffs or other penalties — a process that takes time and money. It would also potentially increase costs for those businesses going forward.

If that’s [not] enough, the move could set off a trade war by prompting Mexico to raise tariffs on American goods in response. That could cause a downturn in the US economy and a spike in the unemployment employment rate that would undermine the very reason Trump is considering withdrawing from NAFTA.

....The upshot? Trump’s departure from the decades-long bipartisan consensus was politically brilliant....But following through on his promise is going to be difficult. The murky future of NAFTA may be one of the first places where Trump disappoints his followers; it won’t be the last.

Well, we'll see. Trump almost has to do something, considering how central NAFTA was to his campaign. But in the real world, there's not much upside. The OECD estimates that NAFTA had essentially no effect on employment, and the International Trade Commission estimates that it had essentially no effect on wages. So withdrawing wouldn't do any good for all those working-class folks Trump appealed to, but it would cause plenty of upheaval for businesses that are tightly integrated with their Mexican supply chains.1

Of course, NAFTA's impact hasn't been the same everywhere. There are a few industries where employment has been negatively affected. So Trump could focus on those and boast about how he's bringing jobs back to America. Prices of Mexican imports would go up too, but that's a pretty diffuse effect and most people probably wouldn't notice it.

So...who knows? As with many other things, I suspect that Trump will get agreement on a few smallish things and then take to his Twitter account to declare that he's just done more for the American worker than any president ever. At least, I'm kind of hoping that's what he does. The alternative is almost certainly worse.

1Needless to say, there are lots of estimates of the impact of NAFTA, and some of them suggest large employment effects—like this one from EPI. The general consensus, however, seems to be that it's had a pretty small impact.

After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, gun shops did a land office business selling firearms to folks who were convinced that Obama was going to take their guns away. Now the shoe is on the other foot:

Since Donald Trump became president-elect, many women in California say they’ve started looking into long-acting, reversible birth control methods, in case access to contraception or abortions is rolled back. Trump has not said he wants to restrict birth control, but he has spoken often of repealing Obamacare, which could have that effect.

Collins said 45 people were ahead of her in line when she called the clinic. “So I was not the only person with that idea,” she said.

Doctors and Planned Parenthood offices across the state report that in the last week an increased number of women have asked about IUDs. The devices are inserted once and some types could even outlast a two-term Trump presidency. Google Trends shows more searches for “IUD” on Nov. 10 than in the previous 90 days.

I suppose there's no harm in this. Long-acting birth control is generally a good idea, and IUDs are an excellent choice for many women. Still, don't be like the gun nuts. It's possible that Trump could take executive action that rolls back birth control to the dark ages of 2013, but that's about it. And he hasn't given any indication that he even wants to do that.

Still, IUDs are great! And there's a chance that a year from now you might have to pay more for them. Might as well get one now, I suppose. Especially if you work for Hobby Lobby.

I suppose this is about 157th on the list of things to worry about from a Trump presidency, but I still have to wonder: Are we going to continue giving Trump's tweets the same banner treatment that we gave to the Hindenburg disaster? Shouldn't the press have a little more self-respect than that? If the guy won't talk to them, and instead relies on tweets that sound like they were written by a fourth grader ("The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition. It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders.")—well, maybe they should be given no more than the attention they deserve. Which is to say, about the amount that the press gave to Barack Obama's tweets. Which is to say, none.

UPDATE: Here's an idea. Instead of going crazy over every Trump tweet, maybe the Washington Post should inaugurate a regular feature: Today's Presidential Tweets. Every day, on page A14, they could have a box that reprints all of Trump's tweets for the previous day, along with a fact check for each of them. Something like this:

Pretty good idea, huh?

Donald Trump—or someone speaking for him, anyway—says that he plans to label China a currency manipulator on "day one" of his presidency. Fair enough. China does intervene in currency markets to manipulate the value of the yuan. Unfortunately, Trump might not like what would happen if China decides to call his bluff:

The simple act of calling out China for manipulating the value of its currency to gain an export advantage shouldn’t roil Beijing to the point of retaliation, said Derek Scissors, a China economy expert at the American Enterprise Institute....But slapping retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods would be more difficult because it would require congressional approval — a problem given that Republican leaders have been opposed to legislation to punish Chinese currency devaluation with duties, Scissors said.

There’s also the question of whether China is actually devaluing its currency. Most economists agree Beijing intervenes heavily in its currency markets, but in recent years has actually been propping up the value of the renminbi rather than lowering it.

Hmmm. Here is Brad Setser:

The monthly data suggest China has not bought foreign exchange in the market to keep the yuan from appreciating in the past 6 quarters or so, only sold. Its intervention in the market has worked to prevent exchange rate moves that would have the effect of widening China’s current account surplus over time. Every indicator of intervention that I track is telling the same story.

....If China stopped all management (“e.g. manipulation”) and let the yuan float against the dollar, China’s currency would drop. Possibly precipitously. China’s export machine would get a new boost. And rising exports would take pressure off China’s governments to make the difficult reforms needed to create a stronger domestic consumer base.

In other words, right now China's currency is overvalued. If they weren't manipulating it, it would most likely have fallen even more than it has—something along the lines of the chart on the right. This would mean Chinese imports get even cheaper, American exports get more expensive, and the trade deficit increases. This is exactly the opposite of what Trump wants.

Demonizing foreigners as the cause of all our problems is apparently a good campaign tactic. Dealing with the real world is a little different. Hopefully Trump will talk to a few actual economists and trade experts before he makes good on this particular promise.

Andrew Prokop provides us with a brief timeline of the Trump transition team's bumbling effort on Tuesday. It's not going so well.

The filibuster is suddenly the Democratic Party's new best friend. But it can't be used on everything:

The Congressional Review Act....allows Congress to repeal any regulations — that were issued within the final 60 legislative days of the previous session — by a simple majority vote....Next year, Republicans will have 45 legislative days to repeal the 180 regulations that took effect between May 17 and last week. The party is highly unlikely to tackle all of those. But Republican lawmakers do have their sights set on an EPA rule that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from commercial trucks and buses, and on a Labor Department rule that gave millions of new workers eligibility for overtime pay, according to USA Today.

It's worth noting that there are lots of ways to slow things down in the Senate that don't depend on the filibuster. Mitch McConnell was pretty good at using them, and I imagine Chuck Schumer is too. This is why Republicans have to pick and choose their battles. Every bill, every confirmation, every motion takes up floor time. The more Schumer slows things down, the fewer things the Senate can do. There are lots of people who are under the impression that President Trump can demolish American society in his first hundred days, and they're going to be disappointed to find out that's not true. They're going to have to prioritize.

Via Nancy LeTourneau, I came across a Bloomberg article reporting that wage growth is on fire: "The median U.S. worker saw pay rise by 3.9 percent year-over-year in October, the fastest rate of growth since November 2008." This was based on the Atlanta Fed's Wage Growth Tracker, which was new to me. It's an interesting measure because it compares actual individuals 12 months apart to see how fast their wages are growing. The chart on the right shows the cheery news.

That got me curious about how this compares to other, more conventional measures. My favorite is hourly wages of production and nonsupervisory employees, which gives a good sense of how working-class and middle class folks are doing. I was also curious about what these numbers would look like after adjusting for inflation, since raw wage growth figures don't really tell you anything. Here's the answer:

Real wages did rise at a pretty good clip during 2014 and early 2015, but the growth rate tapered off after that. There hasn't been the nonstop upward growth that the raw Bloomberg chart shows. What's more, in 2014 the two series began to diverge. Overall wages have risen at a rate of 2-3 percent over the past year, but blue-collar wages have grown at only 1-2 percent. That's not too bad, but it still means that working-class folks aren't seeing as much improvement as everyone else. That might be pertinent to our recent election results.

Jared Kushner, son-in-law of of President-elect Donald Trump, walks from Trump Tower on November 14, 2016, in New York. As Trump and President Barack Obama met privately at the White House, Kushner strolled the mansion's South Lawn, deep in conversation with Obama's chief of staff.

Chris Christie was fired as the head of Donald Trump's transition team last week. This week, two members of Trump's transition team for national security have also been fired. What's going on? The Washington Post says this:

A former U.S. official with ties to the Trump team described the ousters of Rogers and others as a "bloodletting of anybody that associated in any way on the transition with Christie," and said that the departures were engineered by two Trump loyalists who have taken control of who will get national security posts in the administration: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Rogers had no prior significant ties to Christie but had been recruited to join the Trump team as an adviser by the former New Jersey governor. At least three other Christie associates were also pushed aside, former officials said, apparently in retaliation for Christie’s role as a U.S. prosecutor in sending Kushner’s father to prison.

Smoldering vengeance is about what we'd expect from Trump and his extended family, so I'm provisionally ready to believe this is what's going on. Remember this?

Aboard his gold-plated jumbo jet, the Republican nominee does not like to rest or be alone with his thoughts, insisting that aides stay up and keep talking to him. He prefers the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law.

Kushner is Trump's very own Grima Wormtongue! And he really, really, doesn't like Christie. This is from July:

Sources close to Jared Kushner, who is Ivanka Trump’s husband, say that Kushner has been telling them that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be Vice-President over his dead body. Kushner, who is playing an increasingly active role in the campaign, has a bitter history with Christie. Christie, when he was the US attorney of New Jersey, prosecuted his father, Charles Kushner, in a case that grabbed national headlines. The elder Kushner, pled guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering in 2005. He received a 2 year prison sentence.

Wait. Kushner's father engaged in witness tampering? Oh yes:

The federal witnesses he had attempted to retaliate against were his sister and brother-in-law, who were cooperating with that same investigation. Kushner paid a prostitute $10,000 to lure his brother-in-law to a motel room at the Red Bull Inn in Bridgewater to have sex with him. A hidden camera recorded the activity, and Kushner sent the lurid tape to his sister, making sure the tape arrived on the day of a family party.

Maybe we should be less worried about Steve Bannon and more worried about Jared Kushner. No, scratch that. We should be worried about both. But Bannon is already getting plenty of attention. I have a feeling maybe Kushner should too.

So how's the economy doing? Getting better, getting worse, or what? Gallup asked people this question twice in November and it turns out that Republicans have had a huge change of heart over the past week. The number who think the economy is on the mend has skyrocketed from 16 percent to 49 percent.

The point of this is not to make fun of Republicans.1 Democrats responded the same way, though not by nearly as much. The point is that we shouldn't pay too much attention to poll questions like this. I'd put the beloved "right-track-wrong-track" question in this category too. Very often, people view these things as proxies for "what do you think of the current president?" They don't really have any idea whether the economy is getting better or worse, but they don't like that Obama guy, so they give a negative answer.

This tendency appears to be more pronounced among conservatives than liberals, but both sides do it. As an objective measure of what people really think about the economy, poll questions like this don't tell us much.

1OK, maybe a little bit.

In the past week, I've seen hundreds of pieces about why Donald Trump won and why Hillary Clinton lost. In the next few months, I'll see thousands more. So do we have an answer yet?

Ha ha. Of course not. For the most part, people are just blaming all the stuff they already believed in. I recommend skipping those pieces entirely. I haven't entirely made up my mind yet, but for the record, here's how I'm currently feeling about all the usual suspects:

James Comey. Yeah, I think he made a big difference. Pretty much everyone on both sides agrees that support for Clinton shifted in response to Comey's first letter and then again in response to his second letter. My guess is that his last minute intervention swayed the vote by about 2 percent. That's not a lot, but in this election it was the difference between winning and losing.

Whitelash. In general, I'm unconvinced. White voters made up 72 percent of the electorate in 2012 and 70 percent in 2016. This doesn't suggest that Trump motivated white voters to turn out in unprecedented numbers. Nor did white voters support Trump at a higher rate than they supported Romney. However, there's more to this....

The white working class. Maybe. They did vote for Trump in greater numbers than they voted for Romney, but that merely extended a trend that's decades old. The white working class has been getting steadily more Republican since Nixon, so it's not clear if Trump accelerated this trend or merely benefited from it. It's also possible that rural blue-collar whites had a substantial effect in a few key swing states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) even if they didn't have a big effect nationally. We need more data here.

Racism. This one is tricky. Obviously Trump appealed to white racism, but it's not as if racism suddenly spiked in 2016. It's about the same as it's always been, and it's hard to see in the data that it made a big difference compared to previous years. However, we did learn something new and disheartening: it didn't make a difference. In 2012, 93 percent of Republicans voted for Romney. This year, 90 percent voted for Trump. It turns out that Republicans just don't care about explicit appeals to racism and misogyny. You can be as openly bigoted as you want, and you'll only lose 3 percent of the Republican vote.

Third parties. This doesn't explain anything. Third-party candidates did double their vote share compared to 2012, but so what? Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were candidates in 2012 too. If they got more votes this year, it's because the two major party candidates were less appealing than Obama and Romney—which is what we're trying to explain in the first place.

The fundamentals. This probably had a bigger effect than it's getting credit for. There are lots of models out there, but generally speaking they mostly suggested that 2016 was a very winnable year for Republicans. The economy was OK but not great; Democrats had been in office for eight years; and Obama's approval rating was mediocre. Clinton was fighting a modestly uphill battle the whole way.

The media. I think the press played a significant role in Trump's victory, though the evidence is all anecdotal. Two things were in play. First, Trump hacked cable news. He figured out that they're basically in the entertainment business and will provide endless coverage to anyone who drives ratings. The more outrageous he was, the more coverage he got. Second, the media's gullible willingness to cover Clinton's email woes so relentlessly hurt her badly. It's easy to say that Clinton has no one but herself to blame for this, and there's something to that. Still, even long after they should have known better, the press reported every new development in breathless tones and 60-point headlines—even though, time after time, it turned out there was nothing there. They got played—and what's worse, they got played by the same wide-ranging cast of Hillary haters that's played them before.

Sexism. I don't know. It obviously seems likely that it played a role, but I haven't seen any real data to back it up.

Lousy turnout from Democrats. Maybe. It appears that voter turnout in general was down from 2012, but only slightly—and once all the votes are counted it might be dead even. In any case, turnout seems to have affected Democrats and Republicans about equally. We need more data before we can say much about this.

Millennials. This clearly had an effect. Young voters abandoned Clinton in much greater numbers than older voters (about 5 percent vs. 1 percent, by my calculation). Likewise, third parties got about 9 percent of the millennial vote, compared to 3 percent of the older vote. There's not much question that Clinton did poorly among millennials, and this reduced her overall vote total by 1-2 percentage points. The question is why this happened. The options are (a) Clinton was a corrupt, neoliberal sellout that young voters were never likely to warm up to, or (b) Bernie Sanders convinced millions of millennials that Clinton was a corrupt, neoliberal sellout who didn't deserve their vote. Take your pick.

Voter suppression. This had, at most, a small effect. Among the key "firewall" states that Clinton lost, Pennsylvania has no voter ID law; Michigan has a loose ID law that allows you to vote without ID if you sign an affadavit; and Wisconsin has a strict photo ID law. Wisconsin was very close, and voter ID might have made the difference there. But Clinton still would have lost.

The electoral college. Yeah, there was that.

Once again: this is my best take on all of these theories right now. But the actual evidence is still weak. CPS data won't be available for years, and in the meantime we have exit poll data—which is suggestive but not much more—and a lot of people looking at county and precinct level data, trying to tease out who voted for whom. We'll eventually know more, but it will take a while. Until then, it's probably best not to be too sure of whatever your own pet theory is.

Except for James Comey, of course. That guy sucks.