Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Andrew Selee's obituary for Sidney Weintraub in El Universal (Mexico City)

Sidney Weintraub
Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, has published an obituary of my father, Sidney Weintraub, in the Mexican newspaper El Universal.  You can read it here.

He also did an English-language translation of his piece and gave me permission to post it below.  (I would have liked to reproduce the Spanish-language original, too, but something about the newspaper's website seems to make doing that technically difficult.)

Selee's obituary in El Universal is titled "El abuelo"—i.e., "The Grandfather"—in recognition of my father's role as an intellectual progenitor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  As Selee puts it:
Después de que se negoció el tratado de libre comercio entre México, Canadá y EU, originalmente una iniciativa mexicana, muchos lo llamaron a Weintraub el "padre de TLCAN", aunque él siempre decía que más bien debía ser "el abuelo" por su edad.  [....]  Lo recordaremos como un gran ser humano y como el "abuelo" de la idea de ese experimento importante, incompleto y contradictorio, de la integración económica entre los tres países tan distintos pero hoy interconectados de América del Norte.
Or, in English translation:
After a free trade agreement was eventually negotiated between Mexico, Canada, and the US, something that was originally a Mexican initiative, many called Weintraub the "father of NAFTA," although he always joked that he should be called the "grandfather" instead because of his age.  [....]  We will remember him always as an outstanding human being and as the "grandfather" of this great, if incomplete and sometimes contradictory, experiment of integration between the three very distinct, yet today interconnected, countries of North America.
=> For some further discussion of my father's role as an early, persistent, and influential advocate of North American economic integration (a role that has made him "revered" in some circles, as someone once said to a friend of mine, and rather less revered in others), see:

Raymond Robertson's review of Sidney Weintraub's Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico.

=> Two previous obituaries, posted by institutions where my father worked after leaving the Foreign Service in 1976, can be found elsewhere on this memorial website:

Sidney Weintraub, Retired LBJ School Faculty Member, Dies at 91

CSIS mourns the loss of our colleague Sidney Weintraub

=> Again, the obituary published in El Universal is here; and Andrew Selee's English-language translation of his piece, posted with his permission, is below.

—Jeff Weintraub

P.S.  At the risk of seeming excessively fussy, I do feel moved to head off one possible misunderstanding.  Unlike Gabriel García Márquez, my father did not live primarily in Mexico during his final years.  His main residence was still the apartment in Washington DC that he shared with his wife Elizabeth Midgley.  But they also had a house in Cuernavaca where they stayed for extended periods several times a year.  It was during one of those visits that he developed his terminal illness.
    Still, that's a minor caveat.  Everything that Selee says about my father's affection, admiration, and concern for Mexico and its people is entirely correct.  He definitely felt at home in Mexico.

El Universal (Mexico City)
April 30, 2014
The Grandfather
By Andrew Selee
Andrew Selee is Executive Vice President of the Woodrow Wilson Center
During the last few weeks the world has paid homage to a great author of universal themes who made Mexico his home during several decades. Gabriel García Márquez was, without doubt, a writer who succeeded in addressing in his novels the great issues of humanity, of love, of politics, and of social inequality, with a prose so rich and yet accessible that he become an inspiration around the world.

Now it is time to say goodbye to another author, less known perhaps but also of immense impact, who also made Mexico his home during his final years. Sidney Weintraub, an American economist, diplomat, and scholar, was, during the 1970s and 80s, the intellectual author of greater integration between Mexico and the United States, whose books posited the idea of a free trade agreement between them almost two decades before that became a reality. He passed away a few weeks ago in Cuernavaca, Morelos at the age of 91.

After a career in the U.S. foreign service and as a public official in the economic arena, he was named a distinguished professor at the University of Texas, where he began to write about global economics. He had been deeply affected by three years spent in Mexico during the 1950s with his family, and he began to suggest in he books that America's economic future was rooted not in Europe or Asia, where everyone else was looking, but in relations with its neighbors, Mexico and Canada, a radical idea at the time. In particular, his 1984 book Free Trade between Mexico and the United States? was the first systematic treatment of of the idea of free trade between the two countries.

After a free trade agreement was eventually negotiated between Mexico, Canada, and the US, something that was originally a Mexican initiative, many called Weintraub the "father of NAFTA," although he always joked that he should be called the "grandfather" instead because of his age. In Washington, as the holder of the Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), he continued his studies on economic integration, and his critical instincts never failed. Although he was immensely pleased that the United States has finally understood the importance of placing greater attention on its neighbors, he knew that not all the results of greater integration were positive and that we lacked sensible policies in each country to take full advantage of free trade, including managing the greater movement of people across borders.

A few years ago, he wrote his last book, Unequal Partners, which explored the recent history of negotiations between Mexico and the United States, two countries which had integrated their economies very quickly despite great asymmetries in size, levels of development, and global influence.  [JW: Review & discussion here.]  In the book, he examines six specific negotiations between the two governments, and he concludes that the asymmetries have changed over time. Though it is true that this continues to be an unequal relationship, the fact that the United States now depends economically on Mexico and Canada to a degree inconceivable twenty years ago means that it has to pay much more sustained attention to its neighbors than ever before. And although the United States remains the economic heavyweight among the three, there are more than a few cases in which the Mexican government has been able to move its agenda forward with its neighboring country, not because of its economic size but because of its ability to position issues well within bilateral or trilateral discussions.

Weintraub returned to live in Mexico with his wife Elizabeth Midgley, fulfilling a dream to spend part of his final years in a country that he had always loved an admired. We will remember him always as an outstanding human being and as the "grandfather" of this great, if incomplete and sometimes contradictory, experiment of integration between the three very distinct, yet today interconnected, countries of North America.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sidney Weintraub, Retired LBJ School Faculty Member, Dies at 91

(LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin)

Sidney Weintraub, Retired LBJ School Faculty Member, Dies at 91

AUSTIN, Texas, April 11, 2014 – Sidney Weintraub, Dean Rusk Professor Emeritus of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, died on April 10 at the age of 91 in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Sidney WeintraubSidney Weintraub had a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of State before coming to the LBJ School in 1976 as the first holder of the endowed Dean Rusk Chair. Among his positions were Chief of Commercial Policy in the State Department, Economic Counselor and Director of the U.S. AID program in Chile, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development, and Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was also a tactical interrogator in Europe during World War II and spent a short time working as a journalist.

Professor Weintraub, who had a Ph.D. in economics from the American University, was the founding director of the LBJ School's Program in U.S.-Mexican Policy Studies.

“Sidney Weintraub was one of the giants in the field of international development,” said Dean Robert Hutchings. “Professor Weintraub was a trailblazer for the School, creating the LBJ School’s Program in U.S.-Mexican Policy Studies and leading the efforts to expand the School’s academic and research focus to encompass international affairs, international development and global economics.”

Professor Weintraub directed a number of policy research projects related to international affairs, including studies of the use of public services by undocumented workers in Texas, the operations of the U.S.-Canada automotive pact, the impact of tourism on Mexico's economy, and the impact on Texas of free trade with Mexico. In 2006, the Mexican government awarded him the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration granted by Mexico to foreigners.

International affairs, particularly issues regarding trade, the international monetary system, and relations between developed and developing nations, were his primary policy interests. He wrote over 100 articles, books, monographs, chapters, and commissioned papers. He was also the author of two mystery novels.

Professor Weintraub was the holder of the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. for 17 years from 1994 to 2011.

During the NAFTA+20 Conference held in February 2014, Professor Emeritus Sidney Weintraub was honored at a luncheon for his integral and profound role in research leading to the North American Free Trade Agreement. This video begins with an introduction by Associate Dean Chandler Stolp with a recognition and message from Mexico's Secretary of the Economy for Dr. Weintraub followed by a personal recognition from one of his former LBJ School students and ITAM professor, Dr Rafael Fernández de Castro. A standing ovation for Dr. Weintraub appears at 31:10 in this video.

CSIS mourns the loss of our colleague Sidney Weintraub

Sidney WeintraubThe Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) mourns the loss of our dear colleague Sidney Weintraub, 91, who died peacefully on April 10 at his vacation home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. From 1994-2011 Dr. Weintraub held the Simon Chair in Political Economy at CSIS.

After combat service as a tactical interrogator in Europe during World War II and a stint as a journalist, Dr. Weintraub pursued three related careers:  26 years as a Foreign Service Officer and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development; 18 years as a professor of economics and public policy at the LBJ School of the University of Texas at Austin (and founding director of the LBJ School's Program in U.S.-Mexican Policy Studies); and as previously mentioned 17 years at CSIS in Washington.

Dr. Weintraub was the author of many books and articles as well as two mystery novels; his work on U.S.-Mexican relations helped, among other things, to lay the intellectual foundations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  In 2006 the Mexican government awarded him the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration granted by Mexico to foreigners.

Born in Brooklyn in 1922, Dr. Weintraub attended P.S. 167 and Tilden High School and received his B.A. from CCNY, then later obtained an M.A. in economics from Yale University and, in 1966, a Ph.D. in economics from American University.

Dr. Weintraub was predeceased in 2001 by his wife of 55 years, Gladys Weintraub, and is survived by his wife of 10 years, Elizabeth Midgley; three children, Jeff Weintraub, Marcia Weintraub Plunkett, and Deborah Weintraub Chilewich; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Wikipedia entry for Sidney Weintraub

At some point, probably around 2000, someone put together a Wikipedia page for my father.  In the past few weeks I've done a few updates, additions, corrections, and other revisions—and I notice other people have done so , too—but they've been minimal, and that web-page still needs some fixing.  Nevertheless, it's a pretty good overview, fairly comprehensive and generally accurate.  So people interested in further information about my father and his career (including a list of books he wrote, edited, or co-edited) can get some of it here.

—Jeff Weintraub

Raymond Robertson's review of Sidney Weintraub's Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico

Raymond Robertson's review of Sidney Weintraub's 2010 book Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico offers, in the process, a compact and perceptive overview of my father's work on Mexico, US-Mexican relations, and North American economic integration;  it also conveys a good sense of the debates in which he was intervening.  I've posted the review below (with Prof. Robertson's kind permission).

One of the highlights of my father's career as an economist and public-policy advocate was his role as an influential proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994.  (For some further discussion of this point, see the video clip of the talk by Dr. Rafael Fernández de Castro of ITAM at the end of this post.)  This was a project to which he was strongly committed, not just as a political economist but also as someone who cared deeply about Mexico and its people.  He was convinced, rightly or wrongly, that a free trade agreement would greatly benefit both the US and Mexico.  (He also expected that, if the US and Mexico made visible progress toward a free-trade agreement, Canada would ask to be included—which, indeed, is what happened.)

My father is widely considered one of the intellectual fathers of NAFTA—a distinction that has made him "revered" in some circles (as someone once put it to a friend of mine) and rather less revered in others, depending on people's views regarding NAFTA and its overall consequences. Thus, it is not surprising that Robertson's review puts a considerable emphasis on NAFTA as "perhaps the most significant example of U.S.-Mexican partnership."

One of my father's key interventions into the debates that eventually led to the passage of NAFTA was his 1984 book Free Trade between Mexico and the United States?  The fact that the book's title ended in a question mark was no accident.  In 1984 its advocacy of a free-trade agreement between Mexico and the US ran very much against the prevailing consensus in both countries.  Analysts who have much more expertise in this area than I do share this retrospective impression.  Robertson's review, for example, includes this paragraph:
As a pillar of Mexican studies, Weintraub is in a perfect position to examine the evolution of Mexican political economy and the U.S.-Mexican relationship. His 1984 monograph "Free Trade between Mexico and the United States?" predated the North American Free Trade Agreement by nearly a decade and was written at a time when many experts were incredulous about the possibility of such an agreement, given Mexico's staunch tradition of resisting the powerful influence of the United States.
And a passage in the 2010 review of Unequal Partners by Jorge Dominguez made this point even more strongly:
With regard to US-Mexican trade, Weintraub has long been not just a perceptive analyst but also a visionary in the best sense of that word. In 1984, the Brookings Institution published his book, Free Trade between Mexico and the United States?, in which Weintraub analyzed the pathologies that existed then in the highly restricted bilateral trade between the two countries, examined the foregone opportunities that a trade opening would likely provide and, as the book’s title implied, recommended a bilateral trade agreement between them. At the time when he wrote that book, Weintraub’s well constructed work seemed like political lunacy because Mexico was strongly wedded to a highly protectionist set of policies in trade, investment, energy, and other sectoral policies, and adamant in resisting a closer association with the United States. Weintraub was, therefore, a scholarly pioneer who articulated the case for North American free trade and thus increased the likelihood that the idea would become a reality, as it would be through the ratification of the North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA) in late 1993.
A few months ago (at the suggestion of my stepmother Elizabeth Midgley) I went back and checked some of the reviews of the book written around the time it appeared. They all strike a similar note. For example, a brief notice in Foreign Affairs by William Diebold, Jr. began:  "'Impossible!' is the answer most informed people would give to the question in the title. But Professor Weintraub of the University of Texas [....]"  A 1985 review by Cathryn Thorup in the Political Science Review ( began:  "Sidney Weintraub challenges the prevailing wisdom that political obstacles and economic costs outweigh the potential benefits of free trade between the United States and Mexico with an extremely informative and accessible book certain to spur both academic and policy debate."  The 1985 review by Donald Rousslang in the Journal of Economic Literature, which endorsed the main thrust of the book's substantive argument, indicated that the book "is primarily concerned with refuting the accepted view in Mexico that the free trade area would cause Mexico to become an economic backwash, unable to develop or even sustain its industrial base in the face of competition from the United States."

And so on.  Everything I've read conveys the same picture regarding the academic, political, and ideological context into which my father's argument in his 1984 Free Trade book was launched. The consensus at the time seems to have been (and still seems to be, in retrospect) that my father's advocacy of a free-trade agreement challenged "the accepted view," "the prevailing wisdom," and so on to such a degree that many people were skeptical or even "incredulous" about whether this kind of agreement would be either beneficial or feasible. Therefore, it seems fair to describe my father's argument as "pioneering," "seminal," and perhaps even "decisive" (as Raymond Robertson put it in a conversation I had with him).  It does seem to have played a significant role in helping put the idea of a US-Mexico free trade agreement on the agenda of serious political and policy debates.

One other quotation from Cathryn Thorup's 1985 review is also interesting and thought-provoking in this connection. Her assessment of the book's argument was fairly skeptical, but she concluded by saying this:
Weintraub begins with the assumption that ideas matter and that greater understanding can lead to regime transformation. If not finally convincing in what is, in essence,a judgment call regarding the merits of the free trade option, Weintraub's thoughtful and lucid essay will certainly contribute to a less emotional and more informed debate.
Of course, that formulation about Weintraub's "assumption that ideas matter" reminds one of Keynes's famous remark that "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood."  My father's role in the long-term process leading up to the enactment of NAFTA seems to be one case that accords with Keynes's dictum.

—Jeff Weintraub

Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 49, No. 1 (March 2011), pp. 146-150
[ ]

Unequal Partners: The United States and Mexico. By Sidney Weintraub. Pitt Latin American Series. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010. Pp. xv, 172. $60.00, cloth; $24.95, paper. ISBN 978-0-8229-4387-7, cloth; 978 0-8229-6058-4, pbk.   JEL 2010-0463

    Every scholar who has studied Mexico is familiar with nineteenth century Mexican president Porfirio Diaz's comment: "Poor Mexico! So far from God and so close to the United States." In this pithy volume, Sidney Weintraub examines the often contentious relationship with a primary focus on Mexican political economy. The book contains eight chapters. After a brief introduction (chapter 1), the book contains six "issue" chapters. The first two directly address the issues at the core of the North American Free Trade Agreement: trade and finance. These are followed by chapters on narcotics, energy, migration, and the border. The last chapter summarizes the book and suggests several policy recommendations.

    One might get the impression from the title that the book is about the relationship between Mexico and the United States, but that is only partly true. It highlights several areas in which the two countries directly clash, such as over narcotics and the border, and others in which they cooperate, such as trade and foreign investment. But the book is really about Mexico and the title and text simply reflect the idea that it is very difficult to understand Mexico without understanding the influence of the United States.

    This monograph fits neatly into a progression of monographs that analyze the changes in Mexican economic policy, such as Daniel Levy and Gabriel Szekely's 1982 Mexico: Paradoxes of Stability and Change and Nora Lustig's 1998 Mexico: The Remaking of an Economy. Weintraub's book is similar to these in that it tells the story of recent economic reforms and changes in politics and economic policy that shape both Mexico's current economic situation and the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Both of these previous books, with their insightful analysis of key issues facing Mexico, became widely adopted and read by students of the Mexican economy. This book could become the next component of this sequence.

    The central thesis of the book has two parts: Mexico approaches the United States with diffidence and the United States approaches Mexico with dominance. The author's implicit message is that this imbalance creates suboptimal policies and his explicit goal is to advocate equalizing the relationship. Weintraub acknowledges, however, that the first step is to equalize their per capita income levels. While it is not clear that similar per capita incomes have mitigated the power dynamic between, say, the United States and Canada, Weintraub s suggestion goes to the very heart of development economics. If we knew how to move countries from middle to high income status, we might see more countries making the jump. What is novel about this book, however, is that it points out that Mexico has had essentially a decade of relatively good macroeconomic management: a floating peso, stable monetary growth, and relatively stable fiscal policies. On the other hand, the United States has done far less to help Mexico than the European Union did to assist, for example, Spain. Together Weintraub makes the argument that, in 2010, Mexico's poor economic policy choices deserve much less of the blame for its relative lack of development than in the past.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was perhaps the most significant example of U.S.-Mexican partnership. Since the goal of NAFTA was to increase both trade and investment, it makes sense that these issues are the first two discussed. The chapters on trade and investment are quite similar in spirit to previous books that describe Mexico's liberalization in that they start with "Import Substitution Industrialization" and discuss the path Mexico took to liberalization. The trade chapter focuses on the political economy of trade policy (such as the debate over NAFTA) more than the nature of the uniqueness of the trade relationship. There is little focus on the maquiladora sector and the fact that for much of the 1990s it was the primary driver of Mexican manufacturing growth. In addition, several academic studies suggest that the combination of foreign investment, migration, and trade polices effectively integrated Mexico into the North American production chain—for better or for worse (Raymond Robertson 2000, 2007).

    Weintraub addresses NAFTA critics by arguing that NAFTA was oversold in both the United States and Mexico and therefore the fact that NAFTA did not bring Mexico into the ranks of the high-income countries (and therefore did not solve immigration, inequality, and poverty) should not be held against the agreement per se. Weintraub argues that NAFTA was primarily designed to increase trade and investment and, although NAFTAs contribution might be debatable, it is clear that both trade and investment increased after the agreement went into effect.

    The finance chapter also covers banking, and Weintraub very effectively relays the problems involved with the 1982 nationalization and 1991 92 privatization of the banking system. It is also a chapter that skillfully weaves both positive and normative analysis in a way that presents reasoned and balanced positions. For example, he highlights the principle-agent problems that tainted both the U.S. bailout of Mexico during the peso crisis and the Mexican oversight of the domestic financial sector. Although he calls the privatization process, which he notes was mainly driven by the government's desire to maximize revenue, "sad" since it lacked sufficient regulatory oversight, he praises Mexican financial management during the early 2000s, arguing that the effects of the U.S. financial crash would have been much worse in Mexico if Mexico had not so effectively reformed the financial sector.

    One might argue that Mexico's 2010 was dominated by domestic drug-related violence. Weintraub's fourth chapter covers both U.S. and Mexican anti-drug polices, highlighting the problems and failures in both countries. As written, the chapter seems to present thinly veiled support for some form of drug legalization in the United States as an alternative to current policies, while at the same time acknowledging that such a policy lacks sufficient support to be a currently realistic option. The chapter is an extremely useful primer on the current situation and tension between the two countries because it blends the evolution of policies and relatively current political milestones. For example, he discusses the June 30, 2008, Merida agreement in which the United States agreed to support Mexico's anti-drug efforts, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's acknowledgement of U.S. drug demands role in Mexican drug violence on March 25, 2009.

    Chapter five focuses on energy or, more specifically, oil. As all students of Mexico are deeply aware, there are few, if any, issues that have deeper roots in Mexican nationalism than Mexico's constitutional control over its oil. Weintraub masterfully explains the history and recent policy developments that affect both Mexico's oil production and, consequently, the energy-related relationship with the United States. His discussion briefly touches on Mexico's dramatic nationalization of oil in 1938 but focuses mainly on current problems facing Mexico's national oil company, PEMEX. PEMEX, for example, devotes insufficient resources toward investment because PEMEX revenues are a significant component of Mexico's national budget. The lack of investment probably explains falling production, and, since the United States has relied on Mexican oil, has caused the United States to consider alternative relationships (such as Brazil).

    On the other hand, however, the oil chapter presents clear exceptions to the overarching thesis of the book—that Mexico defers to its more dominant northern neighbor. At the end of the chapter, Weintraub lists five ways in which Mexico said "no" to the United States in energy policy. But, instead of explaining what we learn about the overarching thesis of the book, the conclusion of the chapter presents frank assessments of options, mostly for Mexico, which are as sound as they are unpopular. For example, Weintraub argues that Mexico needs to relax its deeply held beliefs of national control over energy resources by allowing joint ventures with foreign companies or increase its domestic tax collection to save its domestic oil production.

    The sixth and seventh chapters focus on migration and the border region. These chapters deal with the daily manifestations of the deep integration between the two countries: border crossings. As Weintraub notes, there are more than one million crossings each day along the U.S.-Mexican border—more than across any other border in the world. Some of these involve migration of workers seeking higher wages in the United States, but also involve tourism, shopping, cargo transportation, and other motives. In both chapters, Weintraub mentions the controversy surrounding the U.S. decision to erect a fence along the border. He also discusses the widely inefficient cargo-transport system that involves three steps for every shipment crossing the border and the trucking dispute, which lingers as an example of the U.S. failing to comply with provisions in the NAFTA. The trucking dispute, in which the United States delayed allowing Mexican truckers from carrying freight in the United States as specified in NAFTA, is the result, according to Weintraub, of the political influence of the AFL CIO more than economic reasoning. Like the other chapters, these two are full of practical examples and rich with detail. At the same time, however, the lack of references to more academic sources is surprising and in several cases would have complemented the discussion. For example, the migration chapter focuses mainly on each administration s views on migration and the failure to achieve a migration agreement, but does not mention other relevant work, such as Gordon H. Hanson (2005), who reviews the foundation of the U.S. immigration debate, or the debate between George J. Borjas (2003) and Giovanni Peri and Chad Sparber (2009) about the effects of immigrants on wages in the United States.

    While the central thesis of asymmetry is carried throughout the book, the books value probably does not lie in the central thesis. Clearly there is an asymmetric relationship between the two countries. After all, there are few countries in the world that would not approach the United States with diffidence, and few countries the United States would not approach from a dominant position. But even in the Mexican-U.S. relationship, the presumed implications of the diffidence dominance relationship do not always hold. For example, Mexico successfully protects its oil production and has few explicit policies to reduce emigration to the United States. These exceptions are noted but not analyzed in depth, giving the impression that the diffidence-dominance paradigm is simply a frame on which to hang the discussion of the recent evolution of Mexican political economy.

    As a pillar of Mexican studies, Weintraub is in a perfect position to examine the evolution of Mexican political economy and the U.S.-Mexican relationship. His 1984 monograph "Free Trade between Mexico and the United States?" predated the North American Free Trade Agreement by nearly a decade and was written at a time when many experts were incredulous about the possibility of such an agreement, given Mexico's staunch tradition of resisting the powerful influence of the United States. The text is terse and pithy, but leaves out several other issues that are clearly relevant for the U.S.-Mexican partnership. The U.S. share of Mexican imports fell from nearly 80 percent in 2000 to about 48 percent in 2009, a gap that was partially made up of imports from China. North American production is increasingly integrated, as was discussed in Weintraub's own work on the automobile industry (Weintraub and Christopher Sands 1998). Many of the issues addressed in the book—such as the asymmetry of power—are certainly not unique to Mexico; they may arise in many U.S. relationships. Weintraub acknowledges this directly but attributes the peculiarity of the relationship to the fact that the United States and Mexico share a 2,000-mile border. That said, it would be interesting to follow up this volume with Unequal Partners: The United States and Canada as a way to possibly separate the issues that truly are unique to Mexico. Economic asymmetries and subsequent economic growth led to Ishihara and Morita's "The Japan that Can Say No" in 1989 and "China Can Say No" in 1996. According to Weintraub, Mexico has been able to say no on several issues—most notably on energy—but does not explain what threshold must be crossed in order for Mexico to assert its independence.

    One especially nice feature of the book is that the end of each chapter includes a timeline of the relevant developments for the chapters issue. These timelines are nicely researched and detailed and, thus, extremely useful for understanding the developments of the issue and providing leads for further study into the issue.

    As a concise yet relatively comprehensive overview of the primary issues driving both Mexican political economy and the U.S.-Mexican relationship, this book is highly recommended. This book serves as a useful reference for current economic and political changes in Mexico and, therefore, should have broad appeal. It would be especially valuable for undergraduates in a course on Latin American economics as a case study focusing on Mexico.


Borjas, George J. 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4): 1335-74.

Hanson, Gordon H. 2005. Why Does Immigration Divide America? Public Finance and Political Opposition to Open Borders. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics.

Levy, Daniel, and Gabriel Szekely. 1982. Mexico: Paradoxes of Stability and Change. Boulder: Westview Press.

Lustig, Nora. 1998. Mexico: The Remaking of an Economy, Second edition. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Peri, Giovanni, and Chad Sparber. 2009. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(3): 135-69.

Robertson, Raymond. 2000. "Wage Shocks and North American Labor-Market Integration." American Economic Review, 90(4): 742-64.

Robertson, Raymond. 2007. "Trade and Wages: Two Puzzles from Mexico." World Economy, 30(9): 1378-98.

Weintraub, Sidney. 1984. Free Trade between Mexico and the United States? Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Weintraub, Sidney, and Christopher Sands, eds. 1998. The North American Auto Industry under NAFTA. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategie and International Studies.

Macalester College

On-line review of Sidney Weintraub, The Siamese Coup Affair

In March 2013, by complete chance, I ran across an on-line piece about one of my father's two mystery novels, The Siamese Coup Affair ... on what looked like an interesting, albeit slightly quirky, website titled "Existential Ennui: The chronicle of a chronic book collector" [etc.]. For anyone who might be interested, see below.

—Jeff Weintraub

=========================================================================== Friday, 5 October 2012

Denis McLoughlin Designs: The Siamese Coup Affair by Sidney Weintraub (T. V. Boardman Bloodhound Mystery #447, 1963)

NB: Featured as one of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.


Speaking of which, let's have a look at the third Boardman Bloodhound I bought off book dealer Jamie Sturgeon:

The Siamese Coup Affair by Sidney Weintraub, published in the UK by T. V. Boardman in 1963, #447 in Boardman's American Bloodhound Mystery line. So far as I've been able to establish, this is one of only two novels Weintraub published, the other being Mexican Slay Ride, issued by Abelard-Schuman and Robert Hale the year before in 1962. But though Weintraub seems to have written just the two works of fiction, he has, I believe, and if I've got my facts right – so take the following with a pinch of salt – penned a hell of a lot of non-fiction. Indeed, it's for works like* his 1959 debut Price Theory (*like, but actually not; see comments) and a succession of other books on finance and free trade that he's rather better known, as well as for being a former William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and a former member of the US Foreign Service.

Of course, that could be an entirely different Weintraub – except for two things. 1) Weintraub the economist is evidently something of an expert on Mexico, so his having also written a thriller titled Mexican Slay Ride isn't entirely outside the realms of possibility; and 2) the 1964 Catalog of Copyright Entries lists both the novel The Siamese Coup Affair and the non-fiction work Intermediate Price Theory under Weintraub's name.

So, in attempt to discover if Sidney Weintraub the thriller writer and Sidney Weintraub the economist are one and the same, I've taken the fairly radical step of trying to contact Mr. Weintraub. I'm not overly confident that I'll hear anything back, but if I do, I'll be sure to update this post.

UPDATE, 19/3/13: Sidney Weintraub's son, Jeff, kindly emailed me the other day confirming that they are indeed one and the same – and not to be confused with the other Sidney Weintraub. Thanks, Jeff!

Perhaps even more intriguing and curious than all of that, however, is this: while The Siamese Coup Affair was published by T. V. Boardman (apparently its only printing), Weintraub's 1962 (presumed) debut novel, Mexican Slay Ride, was published, as mentioned above, by Abelard-Schuman in the States and Robert Hale in the UK. But in 1961, the year before that, Boardman itself published a novel titled Mexican Slayride (two words rather than three, note), by Boardman mainstay Thomas B. Dewey (actually retitled from its original US Dell appearance as The Golden Hooligan). Moreover, in 1962, the same year as the Weintraub Mexican Slay Ride, Gold Medal in the States published a novel titled – you guessed it – Mexican Slay Ride, this one by Neil MacNeil, alias W. T. Ballard.

Three different novels, all titled Mexican Slay Ride (or Slayride), all appearing in the space of two years: what the hell's that all about? What was the weird fascination with that title? I must admit I'm unfamiliar with either a Mexican slay ride or if it is, as it appears to be, a play on words, a Mexican sleigh ride, although I'm assuming in this context it's nothing to do with any of these practices. Furthermore, whether or not these three novels were an influence on either the American title of this film or the pilot of The A-Team is also beyond my ken, although given that A-Team co-creator and writer Frank Lupo is a keen collector of crime and spy fiction, one never knows. Answers to any of the above on a postcard, please.

Anyway, back to The Siamese Coup Affair. And while Denis McLoughlin's dust jacket for the book isn't one of his more striking efforts, for me it's possessed of a quiet appeal. Certainly it's good enough to join its brethren in the Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s gallery – and I've another couple of McLoughlins waiting to follow in its footsteps. Because while The Siamese Coup Affair is the last of the Boardmans I bought off Jamie Sturgeon, it's not the last of the Boardmans I've acquired of late...


faithful researcher said...
The Sidney Weintraub who wrote "Price Theory" appears to have died in 1983. I'm looking further into this. I appreciate a good challenge. I also hate these enigmatic authors who seemingly disappear without a trace. (J.A. Wood, anyone?)
Louis XIV, "The Sun King" (Nick Jones) said...
Ah, so we may be talking about two different Sidney Weintraubs then. Hmm. Let me know what you turn up, FR, and I'll update the post.
faithful researcher said...

"Sidney Weintraub." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Web.

PERSONAL INFORMATION:Family: Born May 18, 1922, in New York, NY; son of Reuben and Anna (Litwin) Weintraub; married Gladys Katz, August 11, 1946; children: Jeffrey, Marcia Weintraub Plunkett, Deborah. Education: City College (now City College of the City University of New York), B.B.A., 1943; University of Missouri, M.A. (journalism), 1948, Yale University, M.A. (economics), 1958; American University, Ph.D., 1966. Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Army, 1943-46. Memberships: Society for International Development, American Economic Association, American Foreign Service Association, Cosmos Club (Washington, DC). Addresses: Home: Washington, DC. Office: Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Drawer Y, University Station, Austin, Tex. 78712.

CAREER:U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, foreign service officer in Madagascar, Mexico, Japan, and Chile, beginning in 1949, deputy assistant secretary for international finance and development, 1969-74, interagency development coordination, assistant administrator, 1974-75, executive director of committee, 1974-75; University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Dean Rusk professor, 1976--. Senior fellow, Brookings Institution, 1978-79. Member of advisory board, Institute of Latin American Studies and Office of Mexican Studies. International economic consultant, 1981-82.


•Mexican Slay Ride (novel), Abelard, 1962.
•The Siamese Coup Affair (novel), T. V. Boardman, 1963.
•The Foreign Exchange Gap of the Developing Countries, Princeton University Press, 1965.
•Trade Preferences for Less-Developed Countries, Praeger, 1967.
•United States-Latin American Trade and Financial Relations: Some Policy Recommendations, CEPAL (Santiago, Chile), 1977.

I've snipped the rest of his bibliography, but you get the idea.
faithful researcher said...
The 2012 "The Writers Directory" (pub. St. James Press) and "Contemporary Authors" (2001) confirm that he wrote both novels.

Best of all the 1972 "Who's Who in Government" also identifies the fellow born in 1922 as the author. It lists his home and office. Therefore we may safely assume that Weintraub himself contributed the information.

1996 interview with Sidney Weintraub

I discovered an interesting interview with my father, conducted in 1996, that's available on-line.  It mostly covers his life and experiences up to 1976, when he left the Foreign Service to begin his career as an academic at the University of Texas in Austin.  Somehow, I'd never seen it before.  The link is below the title.

—Jeff Weintraub


The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
Foreign Affairs Oral History Project


Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: May 13, 1996
Copyright 1998 ADST TOCs/Weintraub, Sidney.toc.pdf


And here is a chronology of my father's different posts during his time in the Foreign Service, compiled by this interviewer.

1949-1951  Tananarive, Madagascar (now Antanarivo, Malagasy Republic)  |  Vice-Consul

    [JW:  My sister Marcy, now Marcia Weintraub Plunkett, was born in Tananarive in 1950.]

1951-1954  Mexico City, Mexico  |  Visa and Political Officer

    [JW:  My sister Debbi, now Deborah Weintraub Chilewich, was born in Mexico City
                  in 1953.]

1954-1957  Washington, DC  |  Worked on Japanese and Korean political &
                                                        economic affairs.

1957-1958  Sent to Yale University to get an M.A. in Economics.

1958-1959  Tokyo, Japan  |  Political Adviser

1959-1961  Bangkok, Thailand  |  Economic Officer

    [JW: In December 1960 I had my bar mitzvah in Bangkok.  Everything I've learned
       since then confirms what I was told at the time—i.e., that as far as anyone knows,
       my bar mitzvah was the first one ever recorded to have taken place in Bangkok.
       In fact, according to a history of Jews in Thailand (not a long book), this "was
       the first Bar Mitzvah to take place in Thailand." My small place in history ...]

1961-1965  Washington, DC  |   Worked on commercial policy, trade negotiations, etc.
                      in the Economic Bureau.  Became Chief of Commercial Policy in the
                      State Department.

1966-1969   Santiago, Chile  |   Simultaneously Economic Counselor of the Embassy and
                       Director of the US AID program (during the Christian Democratic
                       presidency of Eduardo Frei).

1969-1974  Washington, DC  |  Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International
                                                       Finance and Development.

1975  Washington, DC  |  Assistant Administrator for Inter-Agency Coordination, AID

1976      Left government service to become the Dean Rusk Professor of economics &
                 public policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas
                 in Austin.