Economist gets around to cover some manufacturing

This week's Economist magazine finally covered my favorite topic, manufacturing. The leader article is all about it, though of course its from the global perspective. Which if you think about it, makes sense for them. Anyways, read it, basically its "demand falls, too much production capacity" meme.

$0.00, not counting fuel and handling: that is the cheapest quote right now if you want to ship a container from southern China to Europe. Back in the summer of 2007 the shipper would have charged $1,400. Half-empty freighters are just one sign of a worldwide collapse in manufacturing. In Germany December’s machine-tool orders were 40% lower than a year earlier. Half of China’s 9,000 or so toy exporters have gone bust. Taiwan’s shipments of notebook computers fell by a third in the month of January. The number of cars being assembled in America was 60% below January 2008.

The destructive global power of the financial crisis became clear last year. The immensity of the manufacturing crisis is still sinking in, largely because it is seen in national terms—indeed, often nationalistic ones. In fact manufacturing is also caught up in a global whirlwind.

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manufacturing is like a dirty word

They can spew protectionist trying to apply it to things that are not even being talked about...but mention a production economy or manufacturing and it's like a bunch of rats suddenly exposed to a cat. They flurry off to their holes waiting it out until that nasty cat is gone.

Manufacturing what? Production economy eh? Exports are who?

Does it bother you that something as obvious of a consumer economy eventually going broke because the consumer ain't got no mo' money doesn't seem to cross these people's lips?

I have to wonder

If it wasn't for planned obsolescence, at what point do we simply have "enough" of durable items like notebook computers and phones?

I suspect that there will one day be a business that mines landfills for 'naughties (2000-2010) tech to rebuild into netbook phones....and even that business will one day face complete market saturation.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.


There's a brisk business in recycling various industrial goods and some consumer goods. This is especially true in regards to computers. Now in China they do this the hazardous way with no respect to pollution and possible contamination. Many years ago, I was in California, and I think it was near San Mateo where they had this computer recycling firm. You should have seen it.