Archive for April, 2008

The Trade Imbalance and Energy

April 24th, 2008

Month after month we are shipping billions of dollars abroad to pay for oil, much of which is going to countries who are just steps from being enemies.

We all know that using less gas means spending less at the pump and cleaner air, but it is also a major factor in our trade deficit. About 45% of the oil we use is imported.

It’s certain that the tidal waves of cheap products from China, etc. are undermining our economy (Wal-Mart is by far the largest single importer from China), but we also getting heavily slammed by energy imports.

What can we do? Right this minute, there are little things can help save gas, like making sure tires are properly full and for couples, letting the person with the farthest commute take the most fuel efficient vehicle. In the longer run, consider more efficient cars. I have really put my Ford Escape Hybrid to the test and I love it. About 32 miles to the gallon when driving normally, and over 34 when I let up on the pedal a bit. Also, not a single quality problem with it.

With GM’s recent hybrid market entries, there are now lots of them are that are not micro-cars.

From a government policy perspective, we have to push them to stop focusing on the oil industry’s perspective. For example, continuing to fill the strategic oil reserve while oil prices are this high is either moronic or simply welfare for Exxon.

Pushing for home grown (American produced) biofuel production will also reduce our risk while keeping the dollars here at home. These recent articles claiming that biofuels are raising food prices are simply ignoring the market manipulation by the hedge funds – all commodity pricing is up, and most with nothing to do with biofuels, like gold or rice. If rice’s price, which is not used as a biofuel, can rise much more sharply than corn, in spite of an overabundance being grown, what does that mean? It means that the hedge funds have a lot more to do with pushing up prices than true demand or biofuel production.

To be smart with energy is to be pro-American.

Todd Lipscomb

Founder of www.MadeinUSAForever.com

Posted in Trade Issues, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thoughts on American Farmers from a Grateful Father

April 17th, 2008

The other day my daughter and I were having our usual chaotic breakfast together. Her mother is pregnant and enjoys getting a little much deserved rest before I head to work, so it was just the two of us. My daughter, who has just turned two, was having fun looking at the orange juice carton. She started pointing towards it saying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, which peaked my curiosity, so I took a look. It was a picture of the Florida Natural farmer, you know the guy with the gloves. He really does look like a Daddy. That got me thinking about what is behind that juice and everything else we feed her.

It is not a hard choice to select Florida Natural for anyone who cares about America. It was founded by a group of farmers who realized the big juice companies, like Coke-a-Cola, were paying bottom dollar for juice, often from Brazil, while charging a huge markup to consumers.  Rather than have their income subject to whatever the foreign orange crop surplus happened to be in a given year, they stand together to make a special product and take back some of that margin the other juice companies would pocket or send abroad. Plus, all juice really is not created equal, and Florida Natural tastes great.

They, like most American farmers, invest their time and money without any guaranteed wage and often physical risk injury to get the job done. Millions of Daddy’s and Mommy’s face years of hardship and drought so that we can live in plenty. Yes, crop prices are higher than usual lately, and that has passed through to bread and other foods. Hedge funds have been playing on real demand issues to push all commodity prices up lately. If that is benefit to farmers, that is fine with me. Let them have a good year or two to pay off their debt or whatever. Surely in a country that tolerates compensation of $21,198,510 paid last year to Wachovia’s failed CEO Kennedy Thompson, in spite of him being responsible for wiping out over $50,000,000,000 (yes, $50 Billion with a “B”) in total shareholder wealth, can tolerate farmers making a decent living.

That happy toddler and I had a lot to be thankful for that sunny morning. Good juice and other abundance at our table brought to us by farmers (Daddy’s & Mommy’s) from across our great nation. It is just a shame Mr. Thompson was never a farmer, as he might be a better business person today…

Todd Lipscomb

For American made products please visit www.MadeinUSAForever.com

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

Detroit To Ramp Up Exports?

April 8th, 2008

It is so often I report on bad news in regards to American manufacturing, it is very refreshing to report some good news today.

With the weaker dollar and some models that actually appeal to foreign markets, The Wall Street Journal this morning reported Detroit intends to substantially increase car exports. Of course, this won’t block the tidal wave of imports, but every little bit helps. Including:

Enclaves built by GM in Lansing to China, Malibu’s built by GM in Kansas and Michigan to Latin America, and Chrysler’s Dodge Caravan to Europe. Also, BMW is apparently investing $750 million to expand production at their South Carolina plant for export to Europe.

This not just helps those working at those plants, but also the hundreds of local companies that supply them.

This will also be a good opportunity to see if countries that have enjoyed wide open access the USA market are willing to tolerate receiving imports. Having lived abroad in Asia twice, that is not a bet I would be willing to take in the short-run. However, in the long-run, who knows?

Todd Lipscomb

www.MadeinUSAForever.com

Posted in Made in USA Product Ideas, Trade Issues | 1 Comment

Manufacturing Activity Contracts, Can Service Sector Pick Up The Slack?

April 1st, 2008

According to the Institute for Supply Management reports this morning, American manufacturing activity again contracted in March. Other economic news points to continued pricing pressure (driven by commodities, like oil) and a sharp reduction in construction activity.

These issues are naturally intertwined and do not bode well for the future. Combine this with the massive effort to ship manufacturing jobs abroad and we are facing harsher and harsher economic downturns.

I have economic trends and investing successfully for over 25 years, so these I view these more drastic trends with concern.

Can the service sector pick up the slack? Every week I still hear about how these new service jobs are savior, but let’s take a look at what a lot these jobs are really – real estate agents, lawyers, and people pouring coffee. In California alone we have nearly a million people with real estate licenses. I must know at least 20.

It is actually hard for a company to close a major factory. There is a huge cost in doing it, where service jobs can be let go in a day. If they are lucky, the service worker might get two weeks of pay as severance. That won’t cover the mortgage for long.

Yes, there are some great service jobs in software, marketing, and finance, but do you think that cannot be done in India? As the economy soft companies will take another serious look at outsourcing service jobs abroad.

Still there is some real growth in service, but not nearly enough to offset the decline manufacturing. Most of the service related jobs are lower pay and are frankly insecure.

I went into my usual Starbucks today and instead of three of them, there was two (college grads). Even that job is so fleeting.

There is still hope, but we need to sit up and take notice. We need to have a plan that puts America first. We need real leadership.

www.MadeinUSAForever.com

Posted in USA Employment Issues | No Comments

Everything Safe for Every Kid!

April 1st, 2008

85 million toys recalled last year. Is it too much to ask that our kid’s toys not be dangerous? And that is just the toxins that we know about because the harm was apparent immediately. What about on the issues with chemicals that take years to show up?

What can we do? None of the toys recalled were made in the USA. These small manufacturers understand safety standards and liability.

There are over 50 American made toys at http://www.madeinusaforever.com/toys.html and more being added often. You can easily go to the manufacturer’s websites from there.

The big chain stores would like us to think we do not have a choice, but at the moment we still do.

If I have anything to say about it, we always will.

Sincerely,

Todd Lipscomb

Founder

www.MadeinUSAForever.com

Posted in Foreign Product Safety | No Comments