Category Archives: Trade

Russian President Medvedev on Economics

The new Russian president is blaming the US for the financial melt down we are experiencing. I am not surprised by his rhetoric, after all, the Russians love claiming how bad the US is and how they have a great system (like the part about not allowing opposition voices). Although the Russian president may think he is being smart in his attacks, he is showing us a great misunderstanding of just how the markets are suppose to be working and frankly, shows us why we should not bother investing in Russia.

Here’s what he said “Failure by the biggest financial firms in the world to adequately take risk into account, coupled with the aggressive financial policies of the biggest economy in the world, have led not only to corporate losses.”

Ok, so the biggest firms in the world, yes that’s right, the world, meaning not US, so how is it the US that is to blame when these companies are allowed to do their business globally, in such places as Russia? Fact is, financial firms blew off the US a long time ago, they are “global.” Meaning, they go where the money is with no regard for national interests. The one thing I will say is that the US Fed is acting like it is in control when it is not, we should have let Bear Sterns fail, that’s called capitalism, what we are seeing is corporate welfare which I do not agree with. At the same time, we have an economy based on 70% consumer spending and we let our dollar get weak, which is about as dumb a move as you can make. But that’s impacting the domestic US market, not so much globally.

Here’s another gem from Medvedev “”No matter how big the American market and no matter how strong the American financial system, they are incapable of substituting for global commodity and financial markets.” I’d like to know what this guy is on, because even my basic finance 101 class back in high school, we learned this fact. The US is one market and one market only. Granted, I know quite a few Wall Streeters who don’t always remember this, but I don’t believe this is endemic.

So we know the new president of Russia really doesn’t have a grasp of economics, lets see what else he says. “Russia is now a global player and understands its role in supporting the global community.” I wonder if he means the part about over priced oil and causing the developing world to remain in poverty as a result while Russia becomes flush with cash at the same time. How is that supporting the global community by causing people to fall further into poverty?

Or is Russia helping us by showing us the Neo-Stalinism with their anti opposition practices and limits on investment by foreign companies in Russia? How is that being a global player? Being a global player means competing on equal terms, we invest in your country and you can invest in ours, if we can’t invest in your country meaning buying entire companies without restrictions, then you are not a global player, just a wannabe player.

So, I guess this is the new face of Russia, flush with cash and ego-economics. Yawn, forget the Russian market, with guys like this in charge they will nationalize your assets at a whim. You are better off investing in Canada, at least they play fair and they have oil too.

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Filed under Censorship, Economics, Globalization, Politics, Trade

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

Monsanto Strikes at Ben and Jerry’s

I don’t eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, just not my thing, so I don’t have a dog in this race.  I do however applaud them for informing consumers about the quality of their products and the quality of their ingredients particularly if the milk comes from cows with hormones and antibiotics.  I like that and wish more companies would do that.  But then along comes Monsanto that for some reason feels that informing consumers is a bad thing.

 

A “farmers group” backed by Monsanto (that’s spin for, Monsanto partner farmers who would lose money if you knew which was which milk) say it unfair that you know what is in your milk, that it creates a bias.  Well, if Monsanto and these farmers feel their product is so safe, why not show us the studies?  Why not open up their farms and show us how safe their milk is?  But they don’t.  They don’t have independent labs test either.  So if their milk is so safe, why are they not doing what is expected in a capitalist system and show us why their products is better?  Maybe because they know we know better than to fall for it and ignorance is the only way they can sell their chemical soup they label as milk.

 

I wouldn’t buy from Monsanto because they don’t’ know what capitalism is all about.  The best product wins and that means informing consumers so the market can decide what is best.  Monsanto knows it has a bad product and doesn’t want to play by the rules; they don’t want you the consumer to be able to make up your own mind.  Of course if you don’t follow Monsanto’s made up rules, they sue the day lights out of you.  Be a good consumer, don’t buy their products. 

 

If these hormones are so safe, why are they banned in Canada, Japan and the EU?  Monsanto hasn’t answered that question and until they do, you have no reason to trust them. Use your consumer voice and demand more labeling and more choice.  We are told free trade and globalization is good for consumers because it gives us more choice, so why doesn’t that hold true for milk labels? 

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Filed under Business, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Food, Health, Trade

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

The Wall Street Journal Gets it Wrong on China

The Wall Street Journal in its article Watch Out for the China Bashers, demonstrates it is completely out of touch with the average consumer.  It states that the recent concern over China has nothing do with recalls, it’s because China is an economic competitor.  Wrong!  The pet owners don’t really care, they care that their pet was sick or is still sick or dead.  The families of 500 people killed or made seriously ill by the poisonous cough syrup from China sent to Panama, don’t care about the competitiveness issue, the see their family members seriously ill or dead.  The parents who bought toys for their kids are not concerned about competitiveness they are concerned about the safety and well being of their child being compromised by a toy!  

 The WSJ totally dropped the ball on this one, it is not about competition, the average person on the street doesn’t care, they want a safe environment that allows them to pursue their goals with products that are safe.  If it was a competitive issue, nobody would by China made products except those in China!  People would make their purchasing decisions based on location and only buy local products that ensure their economy is always on top!  Companies wouldn’t go to China because nobody outside of China would buy the products and it would be a money loser.  The WSJ should know better, perhaps the writer of the article should get out on main street a bit more before writing.  It looks more like a theory piece than one grounded in the realities of on the ground conditions.  Which are, people are concerned with safety and global competitiveness rarely if ever gets in the mind of the consumer when making a purchase.  With real wages falling in the US, the question most consumers think about when making a purchase is on price, not global competitiveness.    

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

Recall Conspiracy?

I have been hearing a lot of talk now that there must be a conspiracy going on against China goods, why all the recalls?  Well it is quite simple and easy to explain without the need to rely on conspiracy theories of any kind.  This isn’t anything new, we have known about it for a while, the problem with China goods.  Just look at the FDA’s own records, the fish problems have been going on for years. Nobody paid attention to it, until some pets got sick and people started looking around at other products.  This is natural.

 

Never underestimate the anger of pet owners whose beloved family member got sick from bad pet food.  China was the problem and the source.  It actually took some time for this to get rolling, very little in March or April.  Some news in May and then an explosion this summer in the form of massive recalls.  If you look at the way most trends, products or information gets spread, this follows a natural pattern.  A few early adopters notice, the trend setters catch on and then the masses. 

 

So we had a few people who caught on, then the trend setters and finally everyone is looking around every corner wondering if their product from China is safe.  Add to that, the products in question are for kids, that gets people’s attention!  When you mess with someone’s kids, you are asking for more trouble and people are now questioning anything from China, where as before they just believed the brand promise without question.  The alarm is sounded, this is going to get wider.  Which is a good thing because if it had gone unchecked, imagine if people became ill or worse from these products on a wide scale.  Remember the spinach scare last year?  I know a lot of people who do not eat spinach anymore.  The ball is rolling so this is here to stay, and with the Christmas season coming, you can be assured more testing is going to bring up more recalls.

 

I don’t have any sympathy for the producers or China; they failed in their brand promise to deliver us quality goods, which does imply a safe good.  They will have to work hard to earn the trust of consumers.  Which is a good thing, consumers should question their manufacturers about the products they sell.  That’s how consumers stay informed and keep producers focused on quality.

 

Why some people want to claim the recalls are a conspiracy are because they don’t fully understand how people as a group react to alarming information.  I’ve been watching this since the first story on pet food hit the media and this is not a conspiracy, it’s not even a fad, it moves too slow.  We haven’t even hit the peak yet.  The great thing is, companies are taking advantage of this and new channels for businesses are cropping up.  In fact I just read how a local supermarket is going locally grown for produce as a result of concerns about where produce come from and they are doing great.  This is great, consumer demands are being met.  It goes to show that when given a chance, consumers will pick quality over cheap goods. 

 If anything the above example probably shows if there is a conspiracy, it was on the part of big multinationals who claimed we were getting inexpensive goods by moving production to China.  Not really, just their profit margins got better, the prices didn’t get that much lower. 

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Filed under Branding, Business, China, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Customer Satisfaction, Food, Globalization, International Trade, Recalls, The World, Trade

Chocolate, Flip Flops and Toys

Well a busy day for recalls, also a rather gross day. 

Now I never think of China when I think of chocolates but then that’s just me.  But for some unlucky shoppers in South Korea, they found a little something extra in their chocolates and it wasn’t a caramel center.  It was worms.

  

This is just breaking so it is hard to say where the worms entered into the chocolates, but it is still raising questions and the manufacture’s less than up front stand, only raised more questions.

  

A woman bought some flip flops from Wal Mart, only to experience what she says is basically a chemical rash burn on her feet.  According to some news sources, Wal Mart is finally pulling these off the shelves.  You can view the woman’s site, but I’ll warn you, it’s kind of gross at times.  

And finally, paint sets and crayons are being recalled, again, made in China.  I’ve lost count of how many children’s items have been recalled but the fact that it is in the millions already, is shocking enough.  And the fact most of the Christmas toys are already on their way, means we can probably expect a lot more.    

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Filed under Branding, Business, China, Consumer Activism, Consumerism, Customer Satisfaction, Food, Globalization, Health, International Trade, Marketing, Recalls, The World, Trade