Friday, September 02, 2011

Prejudice revealed

Frederic Bastiat famously noted that "If goods do not cross borders, armies will."  Make that supposedly, because there is an interesting controversy surrounding the provenance.

The story of borders involves the powers of any state vs the power of markets.  The U.S. southern border is famously porous and we know that labor will always seek to cross borders (and distances) in pursuit of greater rewards.

Huge movements of mobile capital illustrate a more recent phenomenon.  Some Americans fret that the U.S. is now a "debtor" nation while others celebrate the continued international popularity of U.S. assets, including U.S. Treasury debt.  The near panic over the purchase of iconic assets by Japanese interests in the 1980s has been succeeded by a similar panic over acquisition of favorites by Chinese interests.  Today's LA Times includes this op-ed: "Dodger Red: A Chinese government bid for the home team?  Say it ain't so."  The piece includes a red-background mock-up of the odious Mao-Tse Tung wearing a L.A. Dodgers cap.

Emotional attachments to sports teams are complex. When the current owner (Frank McCourt) bought the Dodgers some years ago, there were complaints that he was not a local native and, therefore, not qualified.  But as unpopular (and unsuccessful) as the McCourts are/were (Frank and Jamie McCourt are battling over team ownership in divorce court), "the Chinese" would be the last straw.

Market forces eventually prevail over politics and they will also conquer emotional sports team allegiances.  We are just seeing another minor skirmish on the path of globalization/cosmopolitanization.  How do I know?  If the new owners (from China or anywhere) field a winning team, they will be forgiven and (more importantly) one more prejudice will be revealed for what it is.