Day: April 18, 2017

Frog Substance Shown to Kill Human Flu Viruses

A frog found in India secretes a substance that has been shown to be highly effective at killing influenza viruses.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta say the secreted peptide — a subunit of a protein chain — kills dozens of flu strains that plague humans. It is effective against H1 viruses, including ones that could cause pandemics.  

Unlike humans, frogs don’t have an immune system that is capable of protecting them against pathogens like viruses and bacteria. But they do produce a slimy mucus that does the job for them.  

Researchers at Emory screened 32 peptides derived from the mucus of the frog, called Bahuvistara, and found one that was effective against all H1 viruses. The frog is found in the southern Indian province of Kerala.

Joshy Jacob, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory’s vaccine center and senior author of the study, describing the peptide in the journal Immunity. He and his colleagues administered the peptide to mice and then exposed them to H1 viruses. He said it protected the animals from infection.

“The beauty of this peptide is that it directly kills the virus. It’s virucidal. So if you put the peptide and the virus together, it actually destroys the virus,” Jacob said.

The researchers named the peptide urumin, after a sword blade that snaps and bends like a whip.

Jacob said the mucus is collected from the frog after exposing it to a mild electric current, which makes the amphibians secrete the antiviral agent.

Three dozen peptides

After identifying the more than three dozen immune peptides in the mucus, the protein building blocks were made synthetically in the lab.

Four emerged as antiviral candidates. But one, urumin, killed all H1 viruses.

Jacob said an flu-fighting peptide could be especially useful when vaccines are not available or when circulating viral strains become resistant to current drugs.

He said one of the next challenges would be turning the effective peptide into a pill or injection to protect humans from viruses.

“It’s like when you get a headache, you take a Motrin [a painkiller]. [The peptide] doesn’t keep you from getting [the flu] again, but it kills the virus. It’s like taking an antibiotic for bacterial infection. You take this for a flu infection,” Jacob said.

Jacob said the peptide was not effective against seasonal flu viruses that mutate rapidly. But researchers plan on testing more of the frog-derived peptides to try to find others that work against other types of influenza virus.


Trump Executive Order Makes It Harder to Hire Foreign Workers

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at making it harder for companies to hire temporary foreign workers.

The order, called “Buy American — Hire American,” will take initial steps to reform the H1-B visa program.

H1-Bs allow employers — mostly high-tech firms — to hire skilled foreign workers to work in the U.S. for three years. There are 85,000 slots available each year, 65,000 for applicants with bachelor’s degrees and 20,000 for those with master’s degrees or higher.

“We are going to use a tool you all know very well. It’s called the sledgehammer,” Trump said Tuesday during a speech at Snap-on Tools, a company in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The administration will require companies to demonstrate that the visas are going only to the most highly skilled workers in their fields.

“They [H1-Bs] should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants and not be used to replace Americans,” Trump said.

WATCH: H1-B Visas Let US Firms Hire Foreigners for Specialized Jobs

Open to abuse

The administration says the visas, which can be renewed once, have contributed to a slide in American wages; 80 percent of H1-B visa holders are paid less than the median wage in their fields.

Howard University political science professor Ron Hira said the Trump administration is right: “The laws are loose, and so what happens is it’s become a way for employers to bring in cheaper, indentured workers as opposed to filling those skills gaps. As a result, the program is oversubscribed, and it’s actually undercutting Americans.”

When the application season opened for H1-Bs this month, federal offices were quickly flooded. As in recent years, there were so many applications that the U.S. government stopped accepting them within a week. Visa winners will be chosen by a computer-generated lottery.

Hira also said the intent of the program is good in serving as a guest worker program for when there are shortages of American workers. What got in the way? Politics.

Companies are making so much money, he said, that they are able to influence Congress to prevent changes in the H1-B program. And it’s all legal.

Fixing H1-Bs

Hira said that if the sledgehammer seemed to be velvet-coated, that’s because the executive order is not really intended to change policy so much as to guide policy changes. Federal agencies will have to implement it.

“The idea behind the executive order is to make it merit-based, that the really highly skilled people get preference over the cheap labor that goes on,” Hira said.

Overwhelmingly, India has been the biggest recipient of H1-B visas. The Department of Homeland Security reports that 71 percent of H1-Bs went to Indians in 2015. China was a distant second with 10 percent of the visas.

India’s success is attributed to its huge outsourcing firms that submit thousands of applications every year, increasing their chances of winning the visa lottery.  

Outsourcing firms, which supply services to other companies, are controversial because they are not subject to a federal requirement that they not displace American workers if they pay the H1-Bs at least $60,000 a year.

Hira said the new policy might help high-tech American companies at the expense of the outsourcing firms that abuse the system.

But “expect the Indian government to lobby against the changes,” he predicted.

The executive order also called on all federal agencies to buy American. It established a 220-day review on waivers and exemptions to government “Buy American” rules.

VOA’s Mil Arcega contributed to this report.


H1-B Visas Let US Firms Hire Foreigners for Specialized Jobs

Not a US citizen? Got skills? Need work? This might be the visa for you.


Silicon Valley Startups Turn to Chinese Backers for Funds

When Mark Pavlyukovskyy, founder of a do-it-yourself computer kit maker, was looking for investors last year, he wanted someone who knew the Chinese market.

Turns out, Pavlyukovskyy didn’t have to go to Beijing or Shanghai. Chinese venture capitalists are everywhere in Silicon Valley.

Last year, Pavlyukovskyy, a Ukrainian-born American entrepreneur working in San Francisco, raised $2.1 million from nine investors, including a Chinese firm based in the Valley.

“We’re looking not just for financial capital, but interpersonal capital with expertise and knowledge of the education market in China,” said Pavlyukovskyy. His company, Piper, sells a $299 augmented reality computer kit that children assemble themselves. Now, Piper is in schools in Hong Kong. Over 150,000 kits have been distributed around the world.

For the past decade, Silicon Valley money flowed to China as the communist country opened its markets and companies sought to expand there. That cross-border investing reversed as Chinese companies started to look outside their borders for investment opportunities. While Chinese investors have made their impact felt in the U.S. real estate, energy and transportation sectors, it was only in recent years they turned to tech.

Chasing U.S. innovation

Now, Chinese investors are pouring money into Silicon Valley deals, where it might take longer to see a return on an investment than in commercial real estate but where the potential to strike it big is higher.

“This is the very beginning,” said David Cao, who came from Singapore as a programmer before founding F50, a full-service investment firm, in 2014.

Fueling the Chinese capital is a perception that the majority of innovation is still coming out of the U.S., and that China is playing catch-up, said Chris Evdemon, who in 2014 opened Sinovation, the U.S. arm of Chuangxin, one of China’s leading early-stage venture firms. There are now 38 startups in his portfolio, which includes firms specializing in internet-of-things, robotics and education technology.

“We thought we should put some capital to work and see if we can be a great go-to market,” said Evdemon.

Chinese investors, particularly traditional media groups, are interested in firms specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, which might enhance digital entertainment. Other areas of interest for Chinese backers include robotics, artificial intelligence and technologies that focus on the financial, health and education markets. There are now more than 30 Chinese incubators in Silicon Valley.

Strategic U.S.-developed tech

But this wave of Chinese investment has called into question whether advanced technologies that are seen as critical to U.S. strategic interests are, instead, going to a competitor. A recent Pentagon report raised concerns about whether the Chinese government and Chinese investors in Silicon Valley were gaining access to key technologies through these investments.

Those concerns did not gain much attention at a recent cross-border investment summit held by F50 in Menlo Park. Instead, investors talked about how Chinese investors have become more savvy, with an emphasis on working with Silicon Valley companies to test their ideas in the U.S. first, before thinking about the Chinese market.

“I don’t see any barriers anymore between the two ecosystems,” said Evdemon. “I’m enjoying seeing wall gardens disappear.”


Scientists to March on Washington to Protest ‘Alternative Facts’

For nuclear physics graduate student Chelsea Bartram, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” were the last straw.

President Donald Trump had disputed photographic evidence of the size of his inauguration crowd. Reporters challenged him. Conway’s response — that the administration gave “alternative facts” — has become a widely used hashtag for anything demonstrably untrue.

“A lot of us do care about this notion of an objective reality,”said Bartram, who is pursuing a doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Many scientists I know, myself included, spend so many hours in the lab sacrificing enormous amounts of their life for this abstract idea” that understanding reality can benefit human civilization, she said. “And then to have someone say, ‘Well, that’s not important anymore,’ it’s so devastating.”

So on Saturday, Bartram plans to join the March for Science, a protest in Washington and more than 500 other cities around the world supporting science’s role in government decisions on health, safety, the economy and more.

The march has more than 200 co-sponsors, including many major scientific and professional societies, zoos, aquaria and advocacy groups. Organizers have not released crowd size estimates.

“This is pretty remarkable and unprecedented,” said geochemist Eric Davidson, president of the 60,000-member American Geophysical Union, one of the march co-sponsors. Many of the group’s members did the climate research that the Trump administration disavows.

“I can’t think of another example where scientists have organized themselves in as many cities with an event as big as this,” he said.

Tipping point

The dispute over crowd sizes was just one small example of what scientists see as a larger pattern. During the campaign, Trump dismissed the scientific consensus about the dangers of human-induced climate change. His appointee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, also does not accept climate science. He has repeatedly clashed with the agency he now heads.

But scientists say their frustration has been building for decades.

“We might have reached a tipping point now, but acting as though this is a new thing is giving too much credit to the current administration,” said march co-organizer and public health expert Caroline Weinberg. “It’s letting people who have been there for a very long time off the hook.”

And it goes far beyond climate change, Weinberg added. “It’s about not paying attention to the best research on things like food stamps. It’s about cutting things like Head Start and after-school programs,” to name a few. “And that all affects health, because that’s a time to set kids on the right path.”

Critics say a public protest risks further politicizing science, turning scientists into just another interest group.

Bartram sums up a widespread response: on hot-button issues like climate change, opponents have already done it. “I don’t think anything we do is going to further politicize it,” she said.


But if the goal is to get policymakers to listen, “a march isn’t going to change anything. That’s the problem,” said Rob Young, head of coastal research at Western Carolina University.

Young said much of the problem stems from the growing disconnect between scientists and voters, especially the rural and working-class people who voted for Trump. He said most probably have never met a scientist.

“It’s easy to demonize us if those folks don’t know who we are,” he added.

Scientists need to get out of the lab more, he said, and explain how their work affects people’s health and livelihoods.

“I hope that when they’re done marching in Washington, that they will come home and that they will march into their local planning board or local town council,” he concluded.

That’s what march organizers hope, too. Many scientists accept much of the blame for the disconnect with voters.

The American Geophysical Union’s Davidson said a major post-march goal is more public engagement. “I think the day is gone when scientists can stay in their ivory towers and assume that everyone is going to recognize their value,” he added.


Few From West Drawn by China’s One Belt, One Road Conference

China announced Tuesday that 28 countries will send their heads of government to an international conference on the One Belt, One Road (or OBOR) program to be held next month in Beijing. However, only six G-20 countries are on the list, and government heads in most of the developed world will not attend.

Italy is the only major western country sending its head of government to the conference on the development plan, despite China’s effort to give it an international flavor.

Four influential personalities will attend the event at the highest level. Those are Russian President Vladimir Putin; Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni; Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will inaugurate the conference.

“This is an economic initiative and it deals with economic cooperation, so we do not want it to be politicized,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in reply to a question about whether the Western world was not showing much interest because it had doubts about China’s motives.

France and Germany have major elections around the time of the Belt and Road Forum, to be held May 14-15. However, they have agreed to send senior officials.

“This is an economic cooperation forum, an international cooperation platform that everyone is paying attention to, supports and hopes to participate in,” Wang said. He said representatives of 110 countries, which include those that are not on the OBOR route, would attend.

A problem of plenty?

China has also signed documents with 56 countries to enlarge support for the program. It has allocated an initial amount of $40 billion for a Silk Road Fund to implement OBOR.

“The contours of OBOR are vast, and its ever-expanding nature has created plenty of discrepancies,” Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA. “For example, some infrastructure projects announced years earlier are now covered under the OBOR banner.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May was widely expected to attend as part of her efforts to strengthen Britain’s business and diplomatic links with China in the post-Brexit era. Instead, she is sending British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in her place.

For China, OBOR is an important model to expand political influence while enhancing its infrastructure construction business and exporting its industrial overcapacity. Beijing is also projecting the program as a “win-win solution” to the problem of inadequate infrastructure in developing countries, and economic slowdown in the developed ones.

Guest list

Most of the presidents and prime ministers attending the forum are from countries that have received or expect to obtain financial support from China. They include Greece, Belarus, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Ethiopia. Russia depends heavily on business deals, including a 30-year gas supply contract that it has entered with China.

China has done well in persuading most of the countries linked to the South China Sea dispute, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines, to send their leaders. Seven of the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations are sending the heads of their governments.

China did not distinguish between developed and developing countries, and regarded all as equal members of the international community, Wang said, as one of the goals of the Belt and Road program was to promote equitable development between rich and poor nations.

Recoining a name

Wang dropped the word “one” from the original name of the program, One Belt, One Road. Observers said China is trying to avoid the impression that it wants to control the increasingly international program, and make it a consultative process.

On the other hand, several countries in China’s neighborhood — including Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore — have not yet agreed to send their heads of government. Three of China’s colleagues on BRICS — Brazil, India and South Africa — are not sending their heads of governments, according to the list released by the Chinese foreign minister. The other two members of BRICS are Russia and China.

“Unsustainable debt is a real concern for certain countries,” Hillman said, referring to concerns that expensive infrastructure projects under OBOR can push economically weak countries deeper into debt.


Ivanka Trump’s Brand Prospers as Politics Mixes With Business

On April 6, Ivanka Trump’s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

The scenario underscores how difficult it is for Trump, who has tried to distance herself from the brand that bears her name, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House.

As the first daughter crafts a political career from her West Wing office, her brand is flourishing, despite boycotts and several stores limiting her merchandise. U.S. imports, almost all of them from China, shot up an estimated 166 percent last year, while sales hit record levels in 2017. The brand, which Trump still owns, says distribution is growing. It has launched new activewear and affordable jewelry lines and is working to expand its global intellectual property footprint. In addition to winning the approvals from China, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC applied for at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S. after the election.

‘Put business on hold,’ some say

The commercial currents of the Trump White House are unprecedented in modern American politics, ethics lawyers say. They have created an unfamiliar landscape riven with ethical pitfalls, and forced consumers and retailers to wrestle with the unlikely passions now inspired by Ivanka Trump’s mid-market collection of ruffled blouses, shifts and wedges.

Using the prestige of government service to build a brand is not illegal. But criminal conflict of interest law prohibits federal officials, like Trump and her husband, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouse. Some argue that the more her business broadens its scope, the more it threatens to encroach on the ability of two trusted advisers to deliver credible counsel to the president on core issues like trade, intellectual property, and the value of the Chinese currency.

“Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government,” advised Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush.

To address ethical concerns, Trump has shifted the brand’s assets to a family-run trust valued at more than $50 million and pledged to recuse herself from issues that present conflicts.

“Ivanka will not weigh in on business strategy, marketing issues, or the commercial terms of agreements,” her attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement. “She has retained authority to direct the trustees to terminate agreements that she determines create a conflict of interest or the appearance of one.”

In a recent interview with CBS News, Trump argued that her business would be doing even better if she hadn’t moved to Washington and placed restrictions on her team to ensure that “any growth is done with extreme caution.”

China ties

China, however, remains a nagging concern. “Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under Barack Obama. “For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”

Instead, the first daughter and her husband have emerged as prominent interlocutors with China, where they have both had significant business ties. Last year, Kushner pursued hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments from Anbang Insurance Group, a financial conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese state. After media reports about the deal, talks were called off.

Publicly, Ivanka Trump has taken a gracious, charming approach toward Beijing. During the Mar-a-Lago meetings, her daughter, 5-year-old Arabella, stood in a gilded room and sang a traditional Chinese song, in Mandarin, for China’s president, Xi Jinping. The video, which was lavishly praised by Chinese state media, played over 2.2 million times on China’s popular news portal

The week of the summit, 3.4 tons of Ivanka Trump handbags, wallets and blouses arrived in the U.S. from Hong Kong and Shanghai. U.S. imports of her merchandise grew an estimated 40 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to Panjiva Inc., which maintains and analyzes global shipping records.

Painter, the former Bush administration lawyer, recommended full recusal from issues related to trade with China. That is likely to be difficult because trade is so deeply embedded in the U.S.-China relationship and has been linked with other matters, like North Korea.

“The danger is that with any discussion with the Chinese, one party or the other may try to bring up trade,” he said. “That’s a slippery slope that may require her or Jared to step out of the room.”

Gorelick, Ivanka Trump’s attorney, said that Trump and her husband would steer clear of specific areas that could impact her business, or be seen as conflicts of interest, but are under no legal obligation to step back from huge swaths of policy, like trade with China.

Under the rules, Trump would recuse herself from conversations about duties on clothing imported from China, Gorelick said, but not broad foreign policy.

“In between, you have to assess it case-by-case,” she said.

Trademark questions

Trademarks can be signs of corporate ambition, though many countries — such as China, where trademark squatting is rampant — also allow for defensive filings to prevent copycats from using a brand.

Trademarks pose ethical, and possibly legal, implications for government employees because they are granted by foreign states and confer the monopoly right to sell branded product in a particular country — an entitlement that can be enormously valuable. Intellectual property lawyers say trademarks are also a crucial prerequisite for cutting licensing deals, which form the basis of both Ivanka Trump’s and Donald Trump’s global business strategy.

Today, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has 16 registered trademarks in China and 32 pending applications, along with a total of four marks granted preliminary approval since the inauguration, according to China’s Trademark Office. Altogether, they cover a wide range of goods and services, including cosmetics, jewelry, leather handbags, luggage, clothes, shoes, retail, spa and beauty services. There is no sign the recent approvals were particularly swift. China’s Trademark Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Globally, the company has more than 180 pending and registered trademarks in countries including Canada, India, Japan, Israel, Mexico, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the U.S. and Europe, public records show. In December, the company applied for five trademarks, covering handbags and wallets in Puerto Rico, and lingerie and other clothes in the U.S. After the inauguration, the company filed four more applications, for branded clothing and shoes in the Philippines, and perfume and other items in Canada.

Trump did not sign off on the new trademark applications, her brand said in a statement, adding that they are “not necessarily an indication that the brand is planning to launch a category or a store in a specific territory.”

Growing sales

Whatever the future plans, right now sales are growing — helped, some argue, by the glow of Ivanka Trump’s political rise.

The G-III Apparel Group Ltd., which makes Ivanka Trump clothes, said net sales for the collection increased by $17.9 million during the year that ended Jan. 31.

The brand itself claims revenues rose 21 percent last year, with early February seeing some of the “best performance ever,” according to a statement by Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand.  Because it is privately held, the brand does not have to declare its earnings or where revenues come from. The actual corporate structure of Trump’s retail business remains opaque. Kushner’s financial disclosure form lists two dozen corporate entities that appear directly related to his wife’s brand. Trump herself has yet to file a disclosure.

Data from Lyst, a massive fashion e-commerce platform, indicates some of this growth coincided with specific political events.

The number of Ivanka Trump items sold through Lyst was 46 percent higher the month her father was elected president than in November 2015. Sales spiked 771 percent in February over the same month last year, after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway exhorted Fox viewers to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Conway was later reprimanded. The bounce appears somewhat sustained. March sales on Lyst were up 262 percent over the same period last year.

“You can’t separate Ivanka from her role in life and from her business,” said Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting. “Her celebrity status is now not only being fueled by her wealth and her family connection, but by her huge role in the White House. All that buzz is hardwired to her products.” That, he added, is a competitive advantage other brands just can’t match — though it does come with risk.

Things could easily cut the other way for the first daughter. Ashley King, 28 of Calabasas, California, bought Ivanka Trump black flats and a cardigan several years ago. But King, who voted for Hillary Clinton, said she believes Trump’s role in the White House represents a conflict of interest.

“This is bothering me more and more,” she said. As for the Ivanka Trump items in her closet, she said, “I will be donating them.”


Mummies and Statues Part of Major New Find Near Luxor

Archeologists in Egypt have made a major discovery of statues, coffins and several mummies in a 3,500-year-old tomb.

According to the Antiquities Ministry, the tomb, which is on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor, was believed to have been built between 1,500 and 1,000 B.C., likely for a judge.

The tomb, which is located in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis not far from the Valley of the Kings, is made up of a courtyard that leads to two halls. One hallway had four colorful coffins, while the other had six.

The Associated Press reports that the head of the dig, Mostafa el-Waziri, said another area contains statues depicting royalty from previous ruling dynasties.

“It was a surprise how much was being displayed inside” the tomb, Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters outside the tomb, according to Al Jazeera.”We found a large number of Ushabti (small carved figurines), more than 1,000 of them. This is an important discovery.”

More discoveries, including more mummies, are expected.


Study: Rising Sea Levels a Challenge to Inland Cities as Well

Inland cities in the United States could face stress from migration caused by sea levels rising, says a new study.

According to models created by researchers at the University of Georgia, about 13.1 million people from low-lying cities such as Miami could be forced to relocate because of rising sea levels. Top destinations, researchers say, would be Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix.

“We typically think about sea level rise as a coastal issue, but if people are forced to move because their houses become inundated, the migration could affect many landlocked communities as well,” said the study’s lead author, Mathew Hauer, of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of geography.

The researchers say the study is a first to try to predict the impact of rising sea levels, taking into account populations at risk as well as likely migration patterns.

The study suggests that inland cities, as well as coastal areas, have to plan for the potential of higher sea levels.

“Some of the anticipated landlocked destinations, such as Las Vegas, Atlanta and Riverside, California, already struggle with water management or growth management challenges,” Hauer said. “Incorporating accommodation strategies in strategic long-range planning could help alleviate the potential future intensification of these challenges.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


IMF: Global Economic Growth Speeds Up a Bit

The International Monetary Fund says the global economic outlook is “brightening,” but warns that “protectionism” and geopolitical tensions could hurt economic growth.

The IMF published the report Tuesday, ahead of this week’s gathering of top economic officials from around the world for meetings of the World Bank and the IMF.

The IMF’s Maurice Obstfeld told journalists that global growth will probably accelerate from a 3.1 percent annual rate in 2016 to 3.6 percent in 2018. He says commodity prices have “firmed” since early last year, but at a relatively low level. That leaves commodity exporters in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America with challenges. He also says bad weather and civil unrest mean several low-income nations face mass starvation. 

In the report, economists say there are many “downside risks” including political pressure to restrict trade, which they argue will hurt rather than help growth. The report’s authors say slow and unequal income growth, meager growth in productivity, the financial crisis, and other problems have generated political support for “zero-sum” approaches to trade. Obstfeld says nations that pull out of the multilateral trading system could suffer a “self-inflicted wound.”

The IMF says in many cases, wages have not kept up with rising productivity, and labor’s share of national incomes has dropped. These experts urge policymakers to do more to ensure that the gains from growth and trade are shared more widely. What will help, they suggest, are tax changes, investments in skills, and efforts to make it easier for workers to move to find new opportunities.