Loonie Might Be An Appropriate Term

"Canadians cheered Friday for their beloved loonie, reaching parity this week with the US greenback for the first time in 31 years, but consumers are not yet benefiting, and manufacturers are reeling."

Kind of makes me wonder what the hell they are celebrating, the exchange rate is leading to inflation for Canadian consumers and depressed export conditions for Canadian manufacturers, which like in Europe, are beginning to see this play out on the jobs front.

The irony is that the recent credit crunch led to a strengthening of the dollar, but the credit crunch caused the Fed to cut rates 50 basis points which then hammered the dollar. I’m not smart enough to appreciate the complete dynamic of currency movements, but I do like the fact that the Bush administration departed from previous administrations by not maintaining a floor for the Dollar. The reason why I like this is that it has helped U.S. manufacturers export more goods, and I am also not prone to nationalism about the dollar. To me, currency is nothing to get prideful about.

BTW, we were at Bloomingdale’s in SF on Friday before meeting friends for dinner and I was struck by how many Europeans were here, so if the Euro’s high exchange rate against the Dollar is bringing more tourists here, then that’s just one more thing to like about it.

More on this topic (What's this?)
Holiday Road and Back Again
20 Loonie Years
Forex – USD/CAD little changed after U.S. housing data
Read more on Loonie (USD/CAD) at Wikinvest

Mattel Comes Clean in China, Not Here

"Now that Debrowski has apologized to China, it seems only fair for Mattel’s conniver-in-chief, Robert Eckert, to explain to American consumers why his company chose to scapegoat Chinese subcontractors while keeping the true death-peddlers on Mattel’s payroll."

Yeah, at a minimum I expect Eckert to do something more than kick the dirt around and say "gee, we’re sorry". I wrote about this last month, saying at the time that Eckert was guilty of at least too much corporate doublespeak. Here we are a mere 5 weeks later and Mattel, having recalled 20 million toys in just the last year, is admitting they don’t in fact have adequate quality standards, despite Eckert’s insistence to the contrary.

Around the Nolan house we have cleared out any suspect toys, and I’m a heck of a lot more conscious about checking where things are manufactured before buying anything for my child now. I still have a number of questions, including:

1) What is the estimate for how many toys Mattel has manufactured over the years that would be suspect for lead paint?

2) Scientists have known for over 50 years that lead is dangerous for children, and the U.S. banned lead in paint almost 35 years ago. Fast forward to today and someone is still making paint with lead in it? If it’s not safe for U.S. children then it is not safe for any children and lead in paint should be universally banned. No child anywhere in the world should ever be exposed to lead in paint.

Ever wonder why lead was added to paint in the first place? It makes the pigments brighter and less susceptible to fading… something titanium dioxide does equally well. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is abundant (a lot of it comes from swamps in Florida, I saw a really cool History Channel program on it) so it can’t be suggested that it is a cost or availability issue for manufacturers. TiO2 is also safe, used in common products like latex house paint, toothepaste, dry coffee creamer, and sunscreen.

No, the reason lead is still used in paint is because some asshole sits back and knows that lead is a few cents cheaper and they can pawn it off somewhere in the world, and they really don’t give a crap about whether or not some faceless child has behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, or dies.

Look at ME!

"By early next year, 100 Silicon Valley business executives will be driving high-mileage plug-in hybrids, a testament to the seriousness of global warming and the earnestness of local leaders to help fight it."

It would be far more impactful and I’d be far more impressed if the "Plug-in Hundred" gave up private jets. I think Carl is intellectually honest about this effort, but it still strikes me as shamefully self-congratulatory considering the power and ability to make real change that these business leaders have. The cost of buying a batch of electric cars represents a rounding error on a rounding error for these companies.