Look Out China, US Manufacturing is Headed for No. 1

Look Out China, US Manufacturing is Headed for No. 1

Advanced manufacturing technologies are helping to push the United States back toward being the most competitive manufacturing nation in the world, according to a new survey of global CEOs and other senior executives. Read more of this post

Is Made In America More Than Just Hype?

IS 'MADE IN AMERICA' MORE THAN JUST HYPE. Made in USA Jeans, Made in USA shoes

A L.L. Bean shipping center in Freeport, Maine. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the media tells it, American-made goods are having a “moment.” But the numbers tell a different story. Read more of this post

U.S. Demands China Block Cyberattacks and Agree to Rules

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Reposted from The New York Times

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Mark Landler and David Sanger  |  March 11, 2013  |  The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The White House demanded Monday that the Chinese government stop the widespread theft of data from American computer networks and agree to “acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

The demand, made in a speech by President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, was the first public confrontation with China over cyberespionage and came two days after its foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, rejected a growing body of evidence that his country’s military was involved in cyberattacks on American corporations and some government agencies.

The White House, Mr. Donilon said, is seeking three things from Beijing: public recognition of the urgency of the problem; a commitment to crack down on hackers in China; and an agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards.

“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyberintrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” Mr. Donilon said in a wide-ranging address to the Asia Society in New York.

“The international community,” he added, “cannot tolerate such activity from any country.”

In Beijing, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, did not directly say whether the government is willing to negotiate over the proposals spelled out by Mr. Donilon. But at a daily news briefing Tuesday she repeated the government’s position that it opposes Internet attacks and wants “constructive dialogue” with the United States and other countries about cybersecurity issues.

Until now, the White House has steered clear of mentioning China by name when discussing cybercrime, though Mr. Obama and other officials have raised it privately with Chinese counterparts. In his State of the Union address, he said, “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets.”

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Made in the USA: More Consumers Buying American

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A curious thing is happening among American shoppers. More people are taking a moment to flip over an item or fish for a label and ask, is it “Made in the USA?”

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, earlier this year announced it will boost sourcing of U.S. products by $50 billion during the next 10 years. General Electricis investing $1 billion through 2014 to revitalize its U.S. appliances business and create more than 1,500 U.S. jobs.

Mom-and-pops are also engineering entire business strategies devoted to locally made goods — everything from toys to housewares. And it’s not simply patriotism and desire for perceived safer products which are altering shopping habits.

The recession, and still flat recovery for many Americans, have created a painful realization. All those cheap goods made in China and elsewhere come at a price — lost U.S. manufacturing jobs. A growing pocket of consumers, in fact, are connecting the economic dots between their shopping carts — brimming with foreign-made stuff — and America’s future.

They’re calculating the trade-offs of paying a little more for locally-made goods.“The Great Recession certainly brought that home, and highlighted the fact that so many jobs have been lost,” said James Cerruti, senior partner for strategy and research at consulting firm Brandlogic. “People have become aware of that.”

“‘Made in the USA’ is known for one thing, quality,” said Robert von Goeben, co-founder of California-based Green Toys. All of their products from teething toys to blocks are made domestically and shipped to 75 countries.

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It’s Cool Again to be ‘Made in America’

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Advertising Age the new emerging market

Domestic Goods Are All the Rage — But Are They Good for the Bottom Line?

By:  Published: February 18, 2013

Not since the 1970s has “Made in America” been such a hot way to market your product.

On one end is Walmart‘s promise to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made merchandise over the next decade; on the other are designers touting investments in New York’s shrinking garment district as a way to justify higher prices.

At the Financial Times’ New York Conference last month, Brunswick Group executive Susan Gilchrist said that Made in America is “not just about the PR opportunities. Purely from an economic view, China is losing its cost advantage.”

In 2001, the average hourly wage in China was 58¢, according to data from the Boston Consulting Group. By 2015, it will be $6. Combine that with the high productivity of American manufacturers and low energy costs, and the cost gap will close for most categories of goods to just 7% by 2015.

It’s making more business sense to manufacture in the U.S. But does it make marketing sense as the focus of a brand’s message?

In a September survey of more than 1,000 Americans by the Boston Consulting Group, more than 80% said they preferred U.S.-made goods, and that they would pay more for said goods. The same questions were asked of 1,000 Chinese consumers: 47% prefer Made in America.

Yet actions and sentiment are two different things: It often comes down to quality vs. a deal. When American-made goods deliver both, it works. “Consumers are starting to make a different tradeoff,” says Harold Sirkin, senior partner and managing director at BCG and author of the study. “Retailers are able to sell goods at a slight premium, but not too much.”

The push has support from celebrities such as Martha Stewart and Jay-Z. And American manufacturing is the raison d’etre of year-old ad agency Made Movement.

“Made in America will succeed for the same reason organic has succeeded,” said Dave Schiff, a founder of the shop. “Just like people didn’t want to eat food that was poisoning them, they want to live in a better economic climate.”

Made in America is nothing new for some brands. New Balance, American Apparel, Red Wing and Pendleton have been producing in the U.S. for years.

Others are making a push to sell more U.S.-made products. Apple recently announced it would bring some Mac production back to the U.S. And apparel brands like Club Monaco have launched lines and products marketed specifically as “Made in the USA.”

Walmart, meanwhile, sells more than $400 billion of goods each year, so some analysts say its commitment is meaningless when it comes to the bottom line. But Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said that two-thirds of its products are “made here, sourced here, or grown here.” Most of that, of course, is food — Walmart is the nation’s largest grocer. This new batch of funds will help create jobs in areas where Walmart typically spends overseas, such as apparel, sporting equipment and furniture.

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Source: http://adage.com/article/news/cool-made-america/239846/?utm_source=daily_email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=adage

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Barron’s Made in America: The Next Boom

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By: KOPIN TAN Barron’s JANUARY 2013

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Cheap natural gas and increasingly competitive labor costs are bringing factories and jobs back to the U.S. Eight ways to win.

 As the only industrialized superpower not decimated by World War II, the United States once made nearly 40% of the planet’s goods. These days, that number has shrunk to 18%. We make American Girl dolls in China, Levi’s jeans in Mexico, and enough movies in Vancouver to nickname it Hollywood North.

After decades of outsourcing, however, the U.S. is quietly enjoying a manufacturing revival, and companies like Apple (ticker: AAPL), Caterpillar (CAT), Ford Motor (F),General Electric (GE), and Whirlpool (WHR) are making more of their goods on American soil again. It isn’t just U.S. companies that are drawn to our cheap energy, weak dollar, and stagnant wages. Samsung Electronics (005930.Korea) plans a $4 billion semiconductor plant in Texas, Airbus SAS is building a factory in Alabama, and Toyota (TM) wants to export minivans made in Indiana to Asia.
The Rust Belt owes its new shine to many factors, including rising wages and industrial-land costs in Asia. But none is bigger than the U.S. energy boom. Thanks to a head start in extracting oil and gas from shales, North America now produces far more natural gas than any other continent. Unlike oil, gas isn’t easily transported across oceans, and a result is some of the world’s cheapest energy within our reach: Natural gas here costs $3.55 per million British thermal units, versus roughly $12 in Europe and $16 in Japan. Cheap energy not only reduces our trade deficit and our addiction to Middle East oil, it also makes our factories more competitive globally — a boon for a country that had gone from exporting American goods to exporting American jobs.The biggest beneficiaries are energy-guzzling companies like chemical producers and steelmakers, and Barron’s has identified eight stocks that should prosper in our gas-fueled manufacturing upswing. They are Southwestern Energy, LyondellBasell Industries, Nucor, Dover, Calpine, CF Industries, Williams, and Union Pacific. But any glow will also rub off on regional lenders, home builders, and local small businesses. “The U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” declares Nancy Lazar, co-head of the New York research firm International Strategy & Investment. “And Middle America is my favorite emerging market.”

Our energy boom got cracking with fracking, a controversial process in which pressurized fluids are pumped through rock formations, often a mile or more under the ground, to extract oil and gas. Critics condemn fracking, which they contend causes environmental harm, but even they agree that it’s led to an abundance of cheap gas. Over the past six years, U.S. production of petroleum and natural gas has jumped from 15 million barrels of oil-equivalent a day to 20.1 million, a 20-year high. Over the same period, imports have fallen from 14 million barrels a day to below eight million, a 25-year low.

It’s a sign of the times: Graduates from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology — acceptance rate: 88%; mascot: Grubby the Miner — now command a median starting salary 16% higher than that of Yalies.

By 2020, the U.S. will become the world’s biggest oil producer, says the International Energy Agency. By 2025, North America will be a net energy exporter, predicts ExxonMobil (XOM).

That edge should remain ours for decades. “It isn’t just the huge reserves we have underground,” says Tim Parker, who manages T. Rowe Price’s natural-resource stock portfolios. “No one else has our predictable cocktail of infrastructure already in place, know-how, a relative abundance of water, and a favorable royalty regime that give landowners a stake in the exploration game.” Europe, for instance, is averse to fracking and has little infrastructure; Japan has hardly any shales; and while China has vast reserves, only shales nudging the Yangtze River have enough water for fracking.

Of course, an especially frigid winter could send gas prices soaring, but any such spike should be temporary. Given our expanding reserves and record inventory, commodity strategists expect U.S. natural gas to stay between $3 and $5 per million BTUs for years — well below prices abroad.

CHEAP GAS ISN’T THE ONLY booster in our tank. In the decade since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, that nation has become Earth’s low-cost factory. But wages and benefits there are rising 15% to 20% a year, while they’re stagnant here. Despite Beijing’s efforts to hold it down, the yuan has gained 33% against the dollar since 2005. Industrial land averages $10.22 a square foot across China, but rises to $11.15 in the coastal city of Ningbo and $21 in Shenzhen — compared with $1.30 to $4.65 in Tennessee and North Carolina. “Within five years, the total cost of producing many products will be only about 10% to 15% less in Chinese coastal cities than in parts of the U.S. where factories are likely to be built,” says Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group. Add duties and shipping, and the cost gap shrinks further.

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FLOTUS, First Daughters wear ‘Made in USA’ designers on Inauguration Day

First lady Micehlle Obama arrives on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for the Presidential Barack Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (AP Photo/Win McNamee, Pool)
POSTED: Monday, January 21, 2013, 10:36 AM
Esther Lee, Philly.com

On the Roy G. Biv scale, the Obama family dominated the color spectrum in blues, indigos and violets Monday morning.

First Lady Michelle Obama stunned in a custom-designed, navy Thom Browne jacquard dress and coat, while her daughters dazzled in bright purple ensembles on Inauguration Day.

Thom Browne, a relatively obscure New York-based designer who grew up in Allentown, generated a tremendous amount of buzz within the realm of fashion and beyond after FLOTUS stepped out in his designs Monday. Although Browne, the brother of Pa. State Senator Pat Browne, is recognized largely for his contributions to menswear, the designer launched his womenswear line in 2011. Evidently, the President’s wife wearing his creation on Inauguration Day is a significant step forward in the women’s department for the designer. The two initially met at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum awards in July 2012. Michelle Obama has since worn Thom Browne items to mark other public events.

The designer told the New York Times‘ Eric Wilson, “It’s one of those moments when I just can’t believe that happened.” The Today show’s Savannah Guthrie admitted she did not know who Browne was, although fans of the First Lady’s style will be well-acquainted with him soon.

As for the inspiration behind the outfit? Her coat – specifically the fabric – was created based on a man’s silk tie. Browne, who debuted his menswear line in Paris this weekend, told CNN‘s Alina Cho that he chose dark blue for the First Lady because he was “mindful POTUS might also wear navy.” Largely recognized for his menswear collections, Browne discovered that the First Lady had worn his designs Inauguration Day thirty minutes after viewers first spotted the Obama family at 9 a.m. The Inauguration went down one day after Browne caused fashion ripples in Paris where he debuted his Fall/Winter menswear line.

A fan of preppy American label J.Crew, FLOTUS linked the brand into her ensemble with her belt and shoes as she walked into St. John’s Church for a service earlier that morning. Regarding Obama’s use of the belt layered over the coat, J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons told WWD, “It looks great. I hope Thom is alright with it.” The source of her lush, leather clover gloves were also a product of J.Crew – in good company with Italian luxury brand Portolano. As of Monday afternoon, the Valentina patent pumps werestill in stock on jcrew.com. The exact pair of gloves were nowhere to be found on the brand’s website, although interested buyers are recommended to scour auction websites like eBay.

She paired the outfit with a necklace by Cathy Waterman, while her cardigan was designed by another American designer – Reed Krakoff – whose creations she selected for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony. The First Lady later swapped into boots later that morning, which were also designed by Krakoff according to a White House official.

Meanwhile, “Rosebud” Malia also wore an outfit from J.Crew, while her sister Sasha, Secret Service code named “Radiance,” wore a dress and coat from Kate Spade. Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade New York told AP, “[Sasha] epitomizes the youthful optimism and colorful spirit of the brand. We are so proud to have been a part of this historic moment.” Lyons shared with Wilson that Malia’s coat was off the rack. Her buttons were customized for the affair. “You can see how the girls have grown up in the four years, and they’re still so alive and vibrant, but more sophisticated,” Lyons shared enthusiastically with the same media outlet.

As for their father, the President stepped outdoors in a blue tie, white shirt and dark suit, beneath the exact same Brooks Brothers overcoat he wore when he took the oath in 2009, WWD reports. Four years ago, the First Lady wore a sparkly yellow coat and dress by Isabel Toledo. Michelle Obama is a champion of consciously and thoughtfully selecting American designers to help raise their profiles.

Known for repeating outfits, she is unable to recycle this gem of a dress and coat. Her complete ensemble, including the accompanying accessories, will go to the National Archives.

Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/hautehouse_row/FLOTUS-First-Daughters-wear-Made-in-USA-designers-on-Inauguration-Day.html

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Obama Push on Advanced Manufacturing Stirs Economic Debate

In a White House switch, pro-manufacturing advisers have the ear of the president.

Jobs plan: President Obama addressing manufacturing workers in 2012.

Before a packed arena at the national convention of the Democratic Party in September, Barack Obama outlined a vision for America’s economic recovery with manufacturing as its engine.

“After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two-and-a-half years,” Obama told the cheering crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. “If we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.”

To fulfill those promises, the White House is turning to an economic tool not seen in Washington for years: industrial policy.

Emboldened by a new cadre of advisors, the Obama administration has proposed policies to boost domestic manufacturing involving tax breaks, new R&D spending, and vocational training of two million workers including around advanced technologies like batteries, computing, aerospace, and robotics.

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Promoting Made in U.S.A., but Very Carefully

BRANDS reviving the “Made in the U.S.A.” slogan to attract buyers for American-produced goods are relying less on patriotism and more on data that shows consumers are willing to pay a premium for better quality, quicker availability and product safety.

This ad for Whirlpool, which makes some products abroad, also said most of its appliances “sold in the U.S. come from our U.S. factories.”

 But many companies are stepping gingerly, avoiding sweeping claims and spelling out what “Made in the U.S.A.” means for their products. Consumers are more shrewd about how few consumer goods actually are made in the United States, leaving companies less wiggle room about the origin of products.

The Whirlpool Corporation, for example, specified in full-page print advertisements this year that 80 percent of its appliances “sold in the U.S. come from our U.S. factories.” Despite its deep American roots, the 101-year-old company — which makes Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid and Jenn-Air products — has, like other corporate giants, moved some manufacturing abroad.

As a result of its centennial celebrations last year, some consumers have urged the company to talk more about its American origins, said William Beck, a senior marketing director at Whirlpool, which spent $57.4 million in 2011 on advertising, according to Kantar Media, a WPP unit.

In recent months, the appliance giant has been underlining its American factories, and noting in its overall brand advertising that it employs about 22,000 workers (15,000 of them at its manufacturing plants), and spends $7.4 billion annually on operating and maintaining its factories in Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

But Whirlpool, whose ad drew a full-page rebuttal from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers accusing it of shutting factories in the United States, said nostalgia and similar sentiments do not drive its sales. “Whirlpool’s key differentiating points are quality and innovation,” said Mr. Beck, and “the icing is that, hey, we’re made in the United States.”

Whirlpool does not share its market research, but other market studies show that customers increasingly take note of where a product is made. Perception Research Services International, in a September study, found that four out of five shoppers notice a “Made in the U.S.A.” label on packaging, and 76 percent of them said they would be more likely to buy a product because of the label.

While shoppers, especially those over 35, say they want to help the economy by buying United States-made goods, “the motivating factors actually may be quality and safety,” said Jonathan Asher, executive vice president of Perception Research Services. The company, which is based in Teaneck, N.J., surveyed 1,400 consumers last summer. “People are paying attention in categories that are ingested like food, medicine and personal care products, but less so in electronics, office supplies and appliances,” he said.

In a separate study, the Boston Consulting Group found that 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for “Made in the U.S.A.” products than for those carrying a “Made in China” label.

They would pay the biggest differential for items like baby food and wooden toys, and a smaller percentage for electronics, apparel and appliances, said Kate Manfred, director of the group’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight in the Americas, which released the study in mid-November.

“Safety and quality, and keeping jobs in America, are the important factors,” she said.

Bixbi, a Boulder, Colo., pet treat provider, has relied on safety to increase sales. The company, which started in 2008 amid revelations of tainted dog food ingredients imported from overseas, sells dog treats made from locally raised chickens and other animals.

“Our sales have grown 600 percent each year,” said James Crouch, who founded the small company with his brother, Michael. “Locally sourced is a key advantage.”

But for all the talk about American-made goods, Bixbi is one of the few clients that have adopted “Made in the U.S.A.” marketing, said Dave Schiff, co-founder of Made Movement, a Boulder advertising firm that handles the Bixbi account.

Is Apple Prepping a ‘Made in USA’ Boom?

It could hinge on whether it picks Intel to make more chips for it

Dec 4, 2012, 9:42 am EST  |  By Brad Moon, InvestorPlace Contributor

Two potentially huge Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) items hit the radar in quick succession over the past few days.

First came rumors that the company was in talks with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to replace Samsung as the processor supplier for its mobile devices. Then, as the first shipments of Apple’s new iMac PCs arrived, reports rolled out that at least some of them bore an “Assembled in USA” sticker. CEO Tim Cook rose to prominence at Apple for moving production to China, but could the company be on the verge of a shift back to “Made in America?”

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If Intel manages to score the coup of becoming the chip supplier for Apple’s mobile devices, that would be a big story for both Intel and U.S. manufacturing. It was only weeks ago that Apple was supposedly in talks with Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC(NYSE:TSM) about the possibility of replacing Intel CPUs in its PCs with TSMC chips based on ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) architecture.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini (the guy who brought Apple into the Intel fold but failed to break into the mobile market) retires, and all of a sudden Apple and Intel appear to be making up for lost time. With most of Intel’s chip fabrication plants in the U.S. (including factories in Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona), domestic manufacturing would benefit tremendously. Apple sold 43 million iOS devices last quarter alone — that’s a lot of chips.

Then there’s the story of the “Assembled in USA” iMacs that’s burning up the tech sites right now. Some (but not all) of Apple’s latest iMacs have been arriving on doorsteps adorned with the usual “Designed by Apple in California” message. But instead of “Assembled in China,” they’re marked “Assembled in USA.”

The FTC has very specific rules about how to qualify for that label. To comply, Apple has to be doing much more than just screwing bases onto cases. A factory somewhere in the U.S. has to be building these things.

How could you justify assembling a computer in the U.S. if you can pay ridiculously low wages in China? First of all, those low wages aren’t as low as they used to be. According to The Atlantic,they’re five times what they were in 2000 and expected to continue rising at the rate of 18% per year. At the same time, U.S. labor productivity has risen, while U.S. manufacturing wages over the past five years are now back at the level they were in 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Earlier this year, The New York Times did the math and calculated that if Foxconn workers were paid equivalent U.S wages, it would add $65 to the cost of an iPhone. On a $649 device (the price of a base iPhone 4S at the time) with an estimated materials cost of $203, this would require Apple to either hike prices or bite the difference, cutting into its margins significantly.

However, an iMac is much more expensive. The cheapest is $1,299, so a potential uptick in labor costs may be less noticeable. And then there’s its size.

To get a sense of what it must cost Apple to ship one of these all the way from China, I tried an experiment using FedEx‘s (NYSE:FDXshipping calculator to compare the cost of shipping a 1.4-pound box (iPhone) and a 42-pound box (27-inch iMac) from Foxconn in Shenzhen to the FedEx hub in Memphis. The result: $448.732 vs. $2,620.72.

Obviously, Apple isn’t paying anything near the rate Joe Public would, and it also uses other shipping companies. But the point is clear.

Shipping an iMac costs six times what it costs to ship an iPhone. If a worker at Foxconn in China ismaking $2.50 an hour compared to an average U.S. manufacturing wage of $19.15 (a difference of $16.65), so long as an iMac took 3.5 hours or so of labor to assemble, Apple would be breaking even by shifting manufacturing back to the U.S. based on the savings in shipping costs.

That’s all hypothetical. But it shows how plausible it is that under current conditions, Apple might shift production of bigger products from China back home. Plus, Apple was facing limited supply of the new iMacs based on problems at Foxconn, so maybe it’s decided to take matters into its own hands. Perhaps a hit on margins is worth the insurance against a hit on revenue if Foxconn can’t keep up.

It doesn’t hurt that the iMac is a relatively low-volume product (compared to iPads and iPhones) and that Apple already has an assembly facility in Elk Grove, Calif., where it built iMacs until 2004 and once employed 1,500 workers. Apple continues to refurbish iMacs for resale at this site, so it retains some technical and distribution capability. As TechCrunch notes, employment at that facility has jumped 50% this year, suggesting something is up.

While it’s possible that Apple merely messed up on its iMac labeling or that Intel Inside iOS devices is wishful thinking on Intel’s part, it’s also possible that between the company’s flagship PC and its determination to free itself from all vestiges of bitter rival Samsung, Apple is shifting toward “Made in America.” If so, here are a few things to watch for:

  • Without a doubt, Intel shares would surge. The company has been largely shut out of mobile, and gaining Apple’s business — even if it does so under license from ARM — would immediately vault Intel into a market leader. If it inked a mobile deal with Apple, those rumors about Apple seeking to shift its iMacs and MacBooks away from Intel would likely go away as well.
  • Apple’s margins could well take a hit, and even a small decrease could spook investors. Still, computers make up less than a quarter of Apple’s total revenue (and iMacs are a small subset of that), so the actual bottom-line impact of assembling PCs in the U.S. would likely be minimal and may well be offset by “Made in America” goodwill among domestic consumers.
  • Shipping companies could actually take a hit from any loss of Apple business. During the iPad 3 launch, for example, it was reported that Apple’s massive shipments form China (at premium rates) boosted the price DHL charged customers for international shipments by 20%. A steady stream of Apple shipments come from China to the U.S., and the vast majority (if not all) is by air.

At the time of writing, Apple hadn’t officially commented on either the “Assembled in USA” iMacs or the Intel talks. Expect all eyes to be on Cupertino for Cook’s response to both. In the meantime, the search is already on for a way to identify the U.S.-assembled iMacs while still in the box, so that consumers can choose them — and send Apple the message that they prefer to buy American.

As of this writing, Brad Moon from http://www.investorplace.com didn’t own any securities mentioned here.

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