Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Rabbit Season, It's Duck Season, It's Circus Season.

Today the Department of Commerce (DOC) came out with their preliminary decision in a trade case against China. This trade case was filed by a group of Bozos who were so out of touch they named their organization the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). First off... I have nothing against American manufacturing but this acronym is hilarious. You'd think that during the brainstorming stages of this organization there would have been one guy at the table with the balls and/or sense to point out this name made them look like an evil organization from a James Bond movie. What do you think happened to this guy? Rumor has it he fell through a trapdoor that led to a shark tank.

Anyways, CASM accused China of cheating and today the DOC kinda-sorta agreed with them. To fix things the DOC set tariffs against the import of Chinese photoelectric modules:

Trina, 4.73 percent
Suntech, 2.9 percent
All others, 3.59 percent

When I saw these tariffs it was a huge relief. These tariffs are much lower than anything anyone expected. Finally, the Obama administration has done something good for solar.

Here's what I think happens next.

May 17 DOC preliminary anti-dumping decision
June DOC final countervailing duty decision
July 19 ITC final decision

Here's what also happens. The Republicans are going to say Obama is soft on China. And they're going to start saying we shouldn't be supporting solar if all the tax dollars end up going to China. After that they're going to focus in on the biggest incentive that solar currently gets - the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The usual suspects should get their talking points shortly.

Romney: The ITC sends American Tax dollars to China.
Rush: The ITC sends American Tax dollars to China.
Fox News: The ITC sends American Tax dollars to China.
WSJ: The ITC sends American Tax dollars to China.
Heritage Foundation: The ITC sends American Tax dollars to China.

The ITC will become a Pinata for the Right. They'll stick and stone it during this election cycle. The Left will defend the ITC with farcical studies from the Center for American Progress.

What's strange here is that both the Left and the Right are wrong. If the Left were smart they'd realize the ITC is indeed a poor policy mechanism. If the Right were smart they'd realize that rescinding the ITC will fix the perverse incentives in the market which will in turn lead to lower costs which will drive up demand. So in the end if the Republicans get their way there will be more demand for the Chinese products the Rebulicans say they don't want to support. Both sides are effectively fighting for what the other side should want. This is an absurd state of affairs which is terribly funny and sickeningly sad.

Screw sad... Today is a happy day so here's a happy thought: Imagine trying to choreograph the show Cats with actual cats. OK Whiskers, now I want you to stand here and look surprised - remember, use your jazz hands for effect. OK Felix and Mitzy, you guys are... wait... Stop that! Your costume is not a toy!

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