EU Schizophrenia

Here’s the thing I never quite grasp about the EU, they want the economic upside and mobility of a unified trading nation but wish to preserve the protectionism of a nation-state… something about having one’s cake and eating it too?

I am quite positive that if Nokia was closing a plant in France to open one in Germany, the various ministers and pundits would not be complaining about about “caravan capitalism”. Why should anyone be surprised that Nokia is moving to where the labor is less costly? If Germany wants to do something positive as a reaction to this move, make the necessary changes to attract large manufacturers to Germany, where by all accounts there remains an excellent manufacturing workforce and all of the necessary infrastructure.

Automobile manufacturing has surged in the U.S. as most major German, Korean, and Japanese manufacturer have opened plants in the U.S., or is planning to do so. Will German politicians ban Volkswagens from their fleets now that the company has confirmed they will be opening a major plant in the U.S.? VW features a significant state ownership component, so while Frau Merkel’s ministers lambaste Nokia for leaving Germany they are conspicuously silent on VW’s move to open a 250k unit facility outside of Germany.

BTW, Intel is closing down their D2 fab in Santa Clara, the last of the larger fabs and the only plant in Silicon Valley that Intel has operated for two decades.

Anti-Nokia anger in Germany for closing a factory is growing with politicians publicly ditching the firm’s phones and joining calls for a national boycott in Europe’s largest economy.

The Finnish mobile phone giant said on Tuesday it plans to close the factory in Bochum in the Ruhr industrial heartland and shift production to Romania where labour costs are lower. The closure will result in 2,300 job losses.

[From Anti-Nokia backlash grows in Germany – Yahoo! News]

Wal-Mart Gets Tough On RFID

This piece in InformationWeek makes it sound like Wal-Mart sprung this on their suppliers. This technology initiative has been underway for several years past the pilot phase and every WM supplier knew this was coming. The thing that is surprising, if anything at all, is that WM kept cutting the suppliers a break with regard to the date, and even with that concession the top suppliers (if memory serves me correctly, it was around 138 originally, now all 15k) still dragged their collective feet. Any one of these suppliers that suggests the pallet fee came out of the blue is not being fully honest.

Check out a company I invested in that is at the center RFID in consumer packaged goods, originally named T3Ci, now Retail Solutions.

The retailer says that beginning Jan. 30, it will charge suppliers a $2 fee for each pallet they ship to its Sam’s Club distribution center in Texas that doesn’t have an RFID tag.

[From Wal-Mart Gets Tough On RFID — RFID — InformationWeek]

Stupid Polls on SFGate

When I see polls like the one I clipped below (in SFGate, here’s the story) I really wonder if people pay attention to news and/or understand basic economics. But mostly I just wonder about the IQ of people writing these polls. First of all, tax actions are intended to stimulate economic activity that results in job creation, and food stamps are less about food and more about income maintenance (longer discussion), so any move to stimulate the economy is essentially and effort to stimulate job growth or stem job loss.

Unemployment remains on the low end of the worry spectrum so “funding job creation” alone simply isn’t going to stimulate this economy. Full employment is considered to be 3.7-4%, which means that at that level of employment all the people who want to and are able to work have jobs. Simply put, lack of jobs is not a problem in this economy. We could debate “good jobs” or “high paying” jobs for the middle and low income classes, but that different than just “jobs”.

Also what about stimulating investment by reducing the capital gains tax (as Germany did a decade ago), or putting a rational energy policy in place that addresses production AND consumption, or imposing federal budget discipline, or reducing healthcare costs for employers and individuals, or tort reform or any number of really compelling policy initiatives that this (and prior) Congress has failed to address.