National Law Review primer on the “Made in USA” Claim

Made in the USA (For the Most Part)
repost:

Newspaper headlines report a new economic trend—manufacturing is returning to the United States. The country’s industrial production grew by 0.7 percent in July, its biggest jump since November 2014. This number represents everything made by factories, mines, and utilities. Before companies start slapping “Made in the USA” labels on their wares, they need to make sure they are familiar with the legal requirements to do so.

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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

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.

Made in USA Certified:  www.USA-C.com

What Does the Future Hold for American Manufacturing?

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

Written by: BBC North America editor, Mark Mardell 

Drew Greenblatt is an enthusiast: proud of his company, Marlin Steel, and proud of the factory floor packed with state-of-the-art equipment.

I watch, fascinated, as a little white robot squeezes out a wire, putting kinks and bends in it as it emerges.

Then it hands it over to a slightly larger yellow robot, which holds it steady for a twist in the end before turning it over for another twist at the other end.

Oddly, I find this cutting-edge equipment rather cute and cartoonish.

The question is whether this endearing duo are merely the remnants of America’s industrial past or the sort of equipment that will make the USA world-beaters once again.

The factory floor space at Marlin Steel is being doubled and there is no doubt the company is doing well, prospering even, during the bad years. Read more of this post

FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

How to Save U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

By Howard Wial @CNNMoney February 23, 2012: 5:34 AM ET

Howard Wial is a fellow for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

At first glance, manufacturing jobs would appear to be a dying breed.

The United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. And despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in manufacturing employment for the last 30 years has been downward.

That has led some to argue that long-term job loss in the industry is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise.

There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S. manufacturing wages are too high to be internationally competitive. The other maintains that manufacturing job losses are the result of productivity growth. Both arguments are wrong. Read more of this post

How To Invest For Jobs Coming Back To U.S.

Brian Sozzi, Contributor   2/16/2012

The grand theme I want to put on the table is the concept of onshoring, sometimes called reshoring, which is the bringing back of U.S. jobs from overseas supply chains.

U.S. businesses have started to realize that while workers in far away lands garner miniscule wages compared to their U.S. counterparts, having operations outside of the country can be a strategic disadvantage.  The speed and structure in which information is consumed has caused U.S. consumers to demand top quality products and to want to buy them whenever they please.

Having a manufacturing plant domestically aids in the quicker movement of goods from design table to sales floor.  Furniture maker Ethan Allen is great example of a manufacturer producing most of its products in the U.S. and doing customization for clients, setting itself apart from price-point focused competitors.

Corporate managers are simply getting over their infatuation with cheap international labor and analyzing the total costs of doing business in the U.S. compared to say, China or India.

There is a dollop of icing on the cake here as well.  The topic of focusing on onshoring to boost employment levels seems to be an area of agreement between bickering Republicans and Democrats.  Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, for example, wants to zero out the U.S. corporate tax for manufacturers.

Anytime the major political parties agree on anything, even the slight thing, it’s cause to sit up and take notice from an investment standpoint.  The Donkeys and Elephants may be a little apart on how to precisely shepherd along the corporate onshoring interest, but at least they are talking the same language.  It’s high time they do find common ground if the following is to be reversed:

  • Manufacturing employment has fallen by approximately 37% since 1980.
  • According to a survey done by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, some 600,000 manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled due to a mismatch between job requirements and experience.

I have read a fair number of columns bantering about onshoring.  Is it overhyped?  Do we really need more jobs in the service sector U.S. economy?  The debates are almost endless.  Unfortunately, though, I have failed to stumble upon investment strategies to profit from onshoring, which has already begun to a certain extent, and could likely gain steam in the years ahead.

Buy-and-hold investors, this should be right in your wheelhouse: a highly probable future event to build positions around in companies with durable competitive advantages.

A few names that come to mind:

  • Waste Management: Owns 260 plus landfills and is the largest waste management business in the U.S.  More manufacturing production means more waste to be piled into the company’s green bins.
  • ADP: Benefits in two manners.  First, workers are hired to run new domestic manufacturing plants (hopefully by people that used the downturn to attain new technological skills).  Second, there should be a trickle down effect in the overall employment sector via a ramp in higher paying manufacturing jobs.
  • Dunkin Brands: “America Runs on Dunkin” as the brand’s slogan goes.  The company’s moat is not as wide as an ADP or Waste Management, but more U.S. manufacturers should mean more egg sandwiches (which Starbucks does not do superbly) and coffee.  Store penetration is increasing in areas of the country that are manufacturing oriented.

This Column Was 100% Made in America

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

By   Published: February 15, 2012

BLUE-COLLAR workers in fields like manufacturing — particularly when they make products on American soil — are again becoming a favorite subject for white-collar workers on Madison Avenue.

The trend was born of the economic worries that followed the financial crisis in 2008. Recently, it is gaining steam — appropriate, since the ads often use blasts of steam to signal something is being built — with proposals in Washington to offer incentives to encourage the location or relocation of factories in the United States.

“We continue to see very heavy emotional response to anything that would leverage against the bad economy,” said Robert Passikoff, president at Brand Keys, a brand and customer-loyalty consulting company in New York. Read more of this post

Obama Takes Fresh Aim at China, Touts “Insourcing”

 

ReutersBy Laura MacInnis | Reuters

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – President Barack Obama kept up his attack on Chinese trade practices during a campaign-style visit on Wednesday to a Midwest factory, where his call to bring jobs back home was intended to resonate with voters in an election year.

The day after meeting China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, at the White House, Obama cited America’s chief rival a number of times in a speech to promote the potential of “insourcing” jobs back to America from overseas.

“I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules,” he told workers at Master Lock, a company he lauded in his State of the Union address last month for having moved back about 100 union jobs from China since mid-2010.

“That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit with one job: investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China,” he said in prepared remarks.

Obama took a firm line over trade on Tuesday during his Oval Office meeting with Xi, who is in line to assume the Chinese presidency in March 2013.

This tough stance should appeal to voters in election battleground states like Wisconsin, where Beijing is often blamed for killing American jobs.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a former private equity executive, accuses Obama of being too soft on China and lacking the executive or other leadership experience to steer the U.S. economy toward lasting recovery.

Master Lock, a unit of Fortune Brands Home & Security, is the world’s largest manufacturer of padlocks and related products to secure homes, cars and bicycles. Its story is a positive one for Obama, who must tout his economic leadership to secure another White House term.

The firm says its Milwaukee plant is running at full capacity for the first time in 15 years – an example the White House is eager to replicate as the November 6 election nears.

“They’re deciding that if the cost of doing business here is no longer much different than the cost of doing business in countries like China, they’d rather place their bets on America,” said Obama.

It was his first stop in a three day campaign-style swing when the Democrat will raise funds in California and stop at aircraft manufacturer Boeing in Washington state.

How to cope with a rising China – and compete against cheap Chinese exports – is one of the toughest challenges for Obama to navigate as the election approaches, particularly as opinion polls showing rising U.S. voter frustration with the Asian economic powerhouse.

(Reporting By Laura MacInnis; Editing by Peter Cooney and Cynthia Osterman)

Can Manufacturing Jobs Come Back? What We Should Learn From Apple and Foxconn

business
The Huffington Post

David Paul – President, Fiscal Strategies Group  –  Posted: 02/13/2012 8:30 am

Apple aficionados suffered a blow a couple of weeks ago. All of those beautiful products, it turns out, are the product of an industrial complex that is nothing if not one step removed from slave labor.

But of course there is nothing new here. Walmart has long prospered as a company that found ways to drive down the cost of stuff that Americans want. And China has long been the place where companies to go to drive down cost.

For several decades, dating back to the post World War II years, relatively unfettered access to the American consumer has been the means for pulling Asian workers out of deep poverty. Japan emerged as an industrial colossus under the tutelage of Edward Deming. The Asian tigers came next. Vietnam and Sri Lanka have nibbled around the edges, while China embraced the export-led economic development model under Deng Xiaoping.

While Apple users have been beating their breasts over the revelations of labor conditions and suicides that sullied their glass screens, the truth is that Foxconn is just the most recent incarnation of outsourced manufacturing plants — textiles and Nike shoes come to mind — where working conditions are below American standards. Read more of this post

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