Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Where Global Efficiency Comes From


Sachiko Dohi, general manager of domestic Chinese operations for NYK Logistics, part of Japan’s largest shipping line, says the boxes – going to Tesco, a UK supermarket chain – would once have been sent loose in containers and unpacked box by box at a UK distribution centre. Now they are sorted into the quantities needed for each superstore, each shrink-wrapped and placed on its own pallet. Expensive handling in the UK will be sharply reduced.

The technique is only the least sophisticated of a series of methods spreading fast among logistics companies to allow rich-country customers to move all but the most unavoidable handling of goods made in east Asia away from their destinations. Companies from countries as far apart as Japan, Chile, Spain and the US now have goods sorted before they leave China into the right mixes for individual stores or distribution centres and labelled with the correct price. Many will even be ready-packed into a cardboard display stand.

Not only do they get to pack and unpack stuff over there, they also get to cause pollution that was once created over here. No wonder China is up in arms about its carbon quota.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Roubini Goes Ape-Shit on the Rentiers


Given the fallout and real, social and financial costs of this disaster the political blame game will soon start. So it is important to make sure that the self-serving spin game that accompanied the game of those who happily ignored since last summer the looming housing, mortgage and economic mess will not be repeated again. Powerful political and financial interests will spin their self-serving ideological spin on who is to blame for this mess. Specifically be ready for a cabal of supply side voodoo ideologues - from the Wall Street Journal editorial page (and its invited op-ed writers) to hacks (calling them economists would be an insult to my profession) such as Arthur Laffer, Steve Hanke and other assorted voodoo religion priests - to start spinning a tale blaming government regulation and interference for this disaster that has instead its core in the lack of sensible government regulation, not the existence of such regulation. In the meanwhile powerful financial interests that repeat the mantra – or better the proof-less dogma - of unregulated free markets and do not like any – even sensible – supervision and regulation of the financial system will happily blame government action – rather than their own reckless greed and stupidity - for this disaster while happily demanding and receiving billions in bailout funds from the same government that they so happily disdain. This will be the most appalling form of corporate welfare: privatize the profits in good times and socialize the losses in bad times.

Right on brother. Of course "good economists" should never say such things in public, lest lay people become disillusioned in the abilities of economic technocratic elites to run the show without interference and demand populist participaation in economic governance. Roubini is really off the reservation here. He could even lose his key to the club house for this one.

Monday, March 12, 2007


To my visitors from US Central Command, thanks for stopping by. Always a pleasure to have you. Hope you enjoyed the reading.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Globalization in Pictures

The nuns have it:

Nuns in the South Korean capital, Seoul, shout slogans to protests against talks on a free trade agreement with the US.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day. Find out what people are doing around the globe to fight for the equality of women.