Monday, October 11, 2010

Food for Thought

We worry about the prices of Gold and Silver yet John Clemmow of UBS made this statement a few weeks back "Rice is the new iron ore, and corn the new gold." Why?
He explained that as the global population swells to 9 billion by mid-century,  that food supply shocks IS hitting us now and while food shortages have been around as long as time immemorial never has there been such a demand for basic foods. Consider what has happened in the last few months.   We experienced the droughts in Australia that did not impact us much in North America, then the floods in Pakistan that in days destroyed staple foods; consecutively there were the heat waves around the Black Sea where Russia an exporter of grain put the breaks on exports sending prices souring.
Wheat, prices rose to some 75% since June in a matter of days,as the Black Sea region suffered through the most severe heat wave in nearly half a century. Did Gold or Silver or even oil perform at that rate?
The affected area ordinarily produces roughly one quarter of the entire global output. Consequently, experts forecast Russia's harvest well shy of the 75 million tonnes consumed domestically. Moscow has since implemented a ban on grain exports until late 2011.

Then there is Corn, that is up more than 40% since June as global stock levels, with a "stock to usage ratio" of a paltry 12%, dipped to their lowest levels in almost four decades. Unfavorable weather patterns in the US kicked the rally off, but it was the revelation that China, feeding the fastest growing middle class on the planet, imported a record 432,000 tonnes in August that really kicked it into overdrive.
Now the US diverts just a little over one third of its entire crop production to ethanol for fuel, which lead one commentator to declare the program a blatant act of "unsustainable, government-sponsored food burning."

To add to this we have heard about the rising cost of Coffee.  Prices have risen by over 40% since September, 2010.
What is all this about.  Maybe our attention should be watching the commodity markets and look for growth and potential there instead of Gold and Silver.   Remember the story of King Midas that every thing he touched turned to gold, but also remember that he could not eat  gold so where do our priorities lie?   Maybe the lesson is that we need to literally watch  our “food” supply chain more and how to better our environment through real ‘sustainable supply chain’ methodology that just giving lip service to it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is China still the place to be in?

A report by Credit Suisse said the vast majority of U.S. and European companies in China are expecting a "margin hit" over the next 12 months and fear they will not be able to pass on the costs to consumers, with the biggest worries in electronics, clothing and retail. Why?

Rising wage and production costs in China are eating into the profits of Western companies and may soon set off an exodus of multinational companies to cheaper locations.

In May General Electric, said it had plans to shift production of its hybrid water heater from China back to Kentucky next year after securing lower wages from U.S. workers. The company cited the narrowing pay gap, lower transport costs and shorter delivery times.
Pay in the industrial hubs of the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas are much higher and likely to rise further after a wave of industrial disputes at Foxconn, Honda, Toyota and Omron.

Does/ it mean that manufacturing will return to North America? Maybe

Credit Suisse's survey of executives found that 55% of foreign firms in China could relocate plants to Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia or other low-cost regions relatively easily, though it would be costly.

I guess only time will tell. If we can last long enough.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The State of the US Economy

The Bloomberg report:

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.'s business barometer rose to 62.3 this month, exceeding the forecast of economists surveyed which anticipated the measure would drop to 56. The June reading was 59.1 and figures greater than 50 signal expansion.

The worst US recession since the 1930s was even deeper than previously estimated, reflecting bigger slumps in consumer spending and housing, according to the Commerce Department's annual revisions also issued today.

The world's largest economy shrank 4.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2009, compared with the 3.7 percent drop previously. Household spending fell 1.2 percent in 2009, twice as much as previously projected and the biggest decline since 1942.

Consumer Slowdown

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, rose at a 1.6 percent last quarter, compared with a 1.9 percent the previous three months that was smaller than previously estimated. Job gains have been slow to take hold, curbing household purchases.

The economy lost 8.4 million jobs during the recession that began in December 2007, the biggest employment slump in the post-World War II era. So far this year, company payrolls grew by 593,000 workers, according to Labor Department figures earlier this month.

Americans are torn about whether the federal government should focus on curbing spending or creating jobs, the poll conducted July 9-12 shows. Seven of 10 Americans say reducing unemployment is the priority. With more than half saying the deficit is "dangerously out of control."

The US government owes more than it can pay. When a debt cannot be paid by the borrower, someone else must pay. Typically, it's the lender who pays when the borrower defaults. But the US government doesn't have to default. It has another alternative, the aforementioned quantitative easing - monetary inflation, in other words. Instead of defaulting on its debts directly, the federal government can inflate them away.

Do you think Canada is immune? We too are struggling to survive. Our biggest trading partner is sick and we don't have the medicine to help.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Story of STUFF!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So Your thought that China was your outsourcing solution? Think Again!

Excerpt from the Toronto Star of June 8, 2010.

Suddenly, strikes are surging across China as poorly paid workers — the engine of China’s economic miracle — are demanding a bigger share of the enormous wealth the country is earning from its booming export-driven economy.

Last week much of the country’s attention focused on a strike at a Japanese-owned Honda factory in southern China — for which Chinese authorities allowed rare and open reporting. Workers there won a 24 per cent pay hike.

Foxconn responded with a 30 per cent wage increase – and announced a further 70 per cent Monday. But few in China heard about the clash in Pingdingshan — or more than 15 other strikes that spilled into the streets of China in May.

Crothall, whose organization tracks labour issues inside China, confirms that China is experiencing a noticeable surge in strikes.

“Coming out of the economic downturn last year, workers were probably more willing to bide their time and not rock the boat,” he observes. “But now they’re seeing the economy booming again and workers who are paid low wages are asking questions and demanding better compensation.”

My Comments:

SO if anyone thinks that China is a safe and secure haven for cheap products. It might have been in the past but think again. People cannot be exploited all the time. The tide is changing in China and other far eastern countries. The west by moving manufacturing jobs to east virtually killed the’ goose that lays the golden egg’. Well the goose is now starving to death but not quite dead yet. Unemployment in the west was the result of moving our manufacturing jobs to the east but it was the west and North America in particular that gave the east and China in particular the boost of kiss of life. Now the west can no longer afford to buy from itself let alone the east, so both parties suffer and that is why China has to stimulate her own economy to take up the slack, but that cost money and who is going to pay for it. Yes the likes of Honda and Foxconn and eventually all the other manufacturers. Eventually the surviving companies will have to move their operations back to the west and start to rebuild or revive and re-stimulate the ‘goose’ so as to start laying some golden eggs by providing satisfying and rewarding manufacturing jobs again. But time is running out. The goose is dying and needs immediate attention.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is SaaS all About?

We are becoming more and more familiar with the key benefits of Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • Excellent experience.
  • Very productive.
  • Rapid implementation and optional higher quality deployment
  • Minimal upgrade hassles
  • Access to the “always-on” regardless of location
  • Subscription pricing
  • Anytime scalability and dynamic capacity

I know as I have just completed implementing PackManager by NuLogy and it is great!