Zandi on Trump Speech: NAFTA Was Good For Economy in General; "Dark Irony" If We Step Back From Trade

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Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi appears on CNN's 'Situation Room' with Wolf Blitzer to discuss Donald Trump's economic address Monday at the Detroit Economic Council. Zandi rejects Trump's claim that NAFTA led to the deindustrialization of the Rust Belt, saying that while there are "big losers" from the agreement, in general all trade agreements are good for the economy at large.

"I think it's been a significant net positive for the U.S. economy," he said about the 1994 free trade agreement. "Now, there are winners --big winners-- and there are losers, big losers-- and places like Upstate New York and they may have suffered as part of NAFTA. I haven't done the research but it's plausible."

"On net, when you add up who wins, who loses and add it all together, the U.S. economy is in a meaningfully better place today than it was 23 years ago, after NAFTA was signed than otherwise. And I think that trade in general, you know, smart trade, good trade deals are a significant plus with the U.S. economy. It makes our economy grow, makes our economy tick. It's to our comparative narrative and increasingly going forward, because the rest of the word, the Chinas, the Mexicos, they have deep middle classes that have grown out because of the trade we've engaged with them and now they are buying the kinds of things that we produce," he said.

"Going forward, if we step back from trade, it would be dark irony," he also said, echoing previous criticisms of Trump's policies. "We are poised to benefit across the board from our trade relationships with the rest of the world. That, in my view, is a mistake. That doesn't matter in any given year, it's not a big deal the next year or the year after but when you look back a decade, a generation or two, if we step back from trade in a meaningful way, our economy will be significantly diminished."

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