Category Archives: International Trade

Vitamin C Not Made in China, Updated

Ok, so some people want an update on the Vitamin C post.  It’s a bit dated, so this will help update the list.  For those of you who do not know, China produces the bulk of vitamin C in the world.  They got that way by the government of China subsidizing the production cost of vitamin C, allowing them to undercut everyone else on the market until they drove everyone else out of the market.  For your information, that’s a violation of the WTO of which they are a member of and are not suppose to do such unfair trade practices. 

 

This is in an update, so go read the old post and the comments and then read this one.  Don’t expect a long list since almost ALL vitamin C sold in the US, comes from China.  In all honesty, get your vitamin C from natural sources!  The Chinese in a Wall Street Journal article defended their practices of price fixing, they don’t want to play fair and they have proven to not care about your health. 

 

My best advice, advocate at the local, state and federal level for country of origin labeling for all products sold in the US.  Then you will know what you are getting and can make a real informed choice.

 

Here’s what I have found:

 

Vitamin C foundation 

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Food, Globalization, International Trade

The Price of Goods is Up, Thanks to Globalization

Here’s one of those little facts the free traders and globalizationist forgot to mention. Last week, Wal Mart said that its cost for shipping goods to the US had doubled and if oil goes to $200, it will double again.

So last year, it cost about $3,000 to ship a container from China to the US. Today it is about $6,000 – $8,000 and if it oil goes to $200 a barrel it will be estimated to cost $15,000. Of course Wal Mart or anyone else is not going to eat that cost; they will pass it on to you the consumer.

So, lets say a container has 1,000 products that have a cost of $30 before shipping. So last year, the shipping cost was $3 per item. Today it is $6-8 per item, if oil goes to $200, it will be $15 per item. So something that might have cost $33 by the time it hit the shores of the US, now costs $37 and could cost $45, a $12 difference just in the shipping cost alone and that doesn’t include the cost to get it from the port in the US to your local store, that’s an additional cost as well! Now times that, by 80% of the products in Wal Mart or Target and you can just imagine how much bigger your bill is compared to two years ago. Add to it your cost to drive there and your ability to buy goods has gone down.

Then if you really want to have some fun, factor in the weaker dollar that makes everything more expensive that is not sourced from the US. So overall, you pay more for the very same thing, yet get no added value for that extra money you just paid. The globalization people never mentioned this when telling people how great globalization is, because they knew you wouldn’t support such a system if you knew.

There is a way to combat this, a four step buying guide that is very simple to follow. First, source locally as much as possible. Buy from farmer’s markets or local Community Supported Agriculture. Go for local as much as possible and demand those producers source locally as much as possible. This helps to minimize the swings in global commodity pricing as well as gas prices because the transportation factor is less.

Next, go national; again, demand the seller sources locally as much as possible. Where I live garlic doesn’t grow so well, but they do grow garlic in California, so that’s where I buy from. I will pay more but I will not have to pay the extra $3-15 for it to be shipped from China. If that doesn’t work, source from responsible companies that practice on the global scale. Good luck finding them, most do not open themselves up enough to really see how they get their goods to you. Last, buy from retailers that are more focused on supporting the local community than with some global agenda.

Yeah, I can hear it now; people will say that is protectionism. No, it is responsible shopping. When goods from afar cost more and use up our vital resource, that is not being responsible. It is better to buy local, save our gas, spend less on oil and have more money to go further. That’s sensible shopping.

If you don’t want to be impacted by the rise in global energy prices, you need to adjust and force businesses to adjust by spending your money in different ways, being conscious of how you get your resources and how they get theirs. Demand transparency, believe me, most will not want to be transparent because they know you will not do business with them if they are. They got us into this mess so they don’t want you knowing that. But if you prefer paying an extra $20 with no added value, do nothing, it will come. If you like to have your money go further, simple changes can make a huge difference.

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Energy, Gas, Globalization, International Trade

IMF says $100 Oil is OK

The IMF once again shows how out of touch with everyday people they really are.  $100 oil is not ok for the global economy; we saw it at $80 and even $60.  If you go to some developing nations, you will find many cars that run on non oil based fuels.  Why?  They can’t afford to buy oil.  And this is before oil hit $100, this was back when oil was at $80.  So already a large portion of the world is priced out of the market.  The US consumer can’t last another 5 years of such prices.  When gas eats up $70 a week that adds up!  That means less goes into the real economy the true engine that drives the global economy.

 

Too many analysts have forgotten what really makes the world go around.  Oil doesn’t, oil is a piece of it, but when oil prices are out of alignment as it is now, the real engine starts to shut down.  Consumers can’t consume because they don’t have money.  And things that rely on oil get priced higher and higher.  And unlike the developing nations, for some reason, the will to create real viable alternatives just doesn’t seem to be present in the US or Western Europe.  Why?  I really don’t know, how can small island nations transition to biofuel and natural gas to power cars and we can’t with all our technology, already have real working solutions on the road being used by everyday people; just like those developing nations have now?  It’s shocking and shameful we as the technology leaders do not have working solutions and better engines on the road.  We have the technology, I guess we just lack the will.

 

The IMF is just way out touch on this one, it’s going to spell trouble if they and Wall Street don’t put down the sparkling water and realize it is Main Street USA, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Kenya, Japan, etc… that is the driver of this world.  It’s time we move away from oil, there are plenty of ideas out there to do this; we should be putting our money into those ideas.  From a practical point of view, it only makes sense; the current system makes less and less sense everyday.

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Filed under Alternative Fuel, Business, Consumerism, Energy, Europe, Globalization, Government, International Trade, Renewable, The World

China Selling you Counterfeit Computers

It wasn’t enough to poison our kids and our pets, now Chinese companies want to sell you counterfeit parts for your computer too.  The US and EU are actually cracking down on this one, which is telling in itself, cracking down on computer parts but not food, but that’s another blog post. 

 

As a fair trade capitalist, I think it is about time we slap some real penalties on China, they obviously do not want to play by the rules so do like you do in anything, penalize those that break the rules.  In hockey if you do unsportsmanlike conduct, you get thrown out, do the same to China, throw them out of the WTO until they learn that safety and brand promises are important aspects to a business and it is not for them to make money at all costs, some costs are not worth it, like a consumers health and safety.

 

Article Link Here

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Filed under Business, China, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Globalization, International Trade, The World, Trade

A Weak Dollar is just Dumb

We currently are experiencing a very weak dollar, for many this is news, but really a weak dollar isn’t news, it’s been around for 30 years and the reasoning behind a weak dollar are as out dated as writing on clay tablets.  A strong dollar is what is needed, as strong a dollar as is possible and here’s why.

 

Back in the 70’s, when we actually had a manufacturing base in the US, people realized that a strong dollar made it hard for people in developing nations or what was called the third world back then, found it hard to buy US goods because their currency was so weak.  So instead of trying to improve the quality of life and value of the currency for these other people, the then new idea of globalization and free trade, came around and said “lets have a weak dollar so our stuff is cheap overseas.”  People went along with that idea, probably not realizing what a bad idea it was.

 

So since the mid 70’s the dollar has been weakened intentionally.  So when I hear conspiracy theories about the intentional weakening of the dollar by Bush, I kind of shake my head.  Yeah he is weakening it, but not like he is the only one who was doing it, so was Clinton and all the others before since 1975.  Now this doesn’t excuse anyone from knowing the facts on the issue.  The idea back then was to make our products competitive, back when manufacturing was king of the economy.  Fast forward to the present, manufacturing is not king, the consumer is.

 

So all those manufacturers who wanted to sell cheap stuff to people in the developing world, decided to go produce their goods there, leaving we the consumers as the king of the US economy.  Now the logic of that is another debate, which I am not discussing here so please refrain from debating this point.  70% of the economy is driven by consumer spending, about 10-15% by manufacturing, so we have a weak dollar to help 10% at the expense of 70%.  A strong dollar means everything is cheaper, gas, food, cheap junk from China at Wal Mart, etc…  A weak dollar means all those things cost more.  You spend more money to buy the same donut that was 63 cents last year, now is 67 cents, same donut, it doesn’t taste any better!  So as you spend more on the same thing you can’t spend enough on all the things you want and the consumer engine slows down and so does the economy.

 

It is unfortunate that the free traders fail to realize that their policies are failing.  First off, if they were so concerned about people in other countries being able to buy their products, they should have focused on quality of life, not price.  So the theory was flawed from the start.  Second, why are we the consumers paying the price for all this?  If you want to have a strong dollar and as a consumer, you do!  Fight to impose taxes on companies that outsource and are just branding companies trying to sell you junk that is probably tainted with lead anyway.  But first you need to ensure we vote in people who understand a weak dollar is just dumb and will fight to have the strongest dollar possible.  When the corporations complain about it, who cares, they are 10% and they will leave and have left us to produce overseas.  In fact it should be a law that a company can not lobby unless 70% of its manufacturing is based in the US.  That would solve a lot.

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Globalization, International Trade, Politics, The World

Mattel Lost in Translation

I was fairly neutral on the Mattel recalls, not really blaming Mattel but this was an interesting week, one that leaves me saying “hmmmm.”

 

First Mattel’s CEO apologized to the US congress for what he said were suppliers who went around Mattel’s safety measures and created bad products of lead and small parts.  Then the VP of International for Mattel just this week apologized to China for designing faulty products.  Wait, which is it, bad suppliers or bad design? 

 

This comes off as double speak in a big way and actually does more harm in the long run for Mattel because now you can’t trust them.  Which side of their mouth should you listen too?  They just shot their brand right in the head!  Lead paint is not bad design; Mattel should say that to the Chinese instead of bending over backwards.  If they designed things poorly, yes by all means apologize but is Mattel saying they designed their toys with lead paint being applied, in mind?  One could make that argument based on the apology given to the Chinese government.  Also doesn’t explain all the other bad products coming out of China so really this was just a bad move on Mattel’s part, really makes them look weak and more concerned with image rather than substance.

 

Then lets add in the 10% mark up on toys for “added safety.”  Wait a minute Mattel, if it was just a few rogue supplies or bad design, why are we paying more?

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Filed under Branding, Business, China, Consumerism, Globalization, International Trade, Marketing, Recalls

A Year Without WalMart

I’ve been reading this wonderful blog here on WordPress called That’s Swell by a fellow blogger and her experience with giving up WalMart.  I particularly liked part II of the series as it talks about Sam Walton and how he was a real believer in Buy American and how after his death, the company took a dramatic change. 

 

Remember back then, we had NAFTA to worry about.  We had some companies already producing in China but it was so small, nobody really noticed.  The reflections on how times have changed in the last 15 years is amazing.  And something as small as stock prices of a discount retailer from Arkansas having that much impact on globalization and daily life for, millions if not billions around the world.  Cheap tainted goods for Americans and pollution and tainted goods for Chinese.  Was the stock price of Wal Mart worth it? 

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Filed under Business, China, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Globalization, International Trade, Life, The World, Trade