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Old 2010-05-22, 16:54   Link #7321
Tsuyoshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I don't think I was old enough to have watched The Empire Strikes Back in a cinema, but like probably any other kid in the 1980s, I lapped up every minute of it on video (Return of the Jedi was the first Star Wars film I actually watched in a cinema, at the Lido in Orchard Road, Singapore). It was the Lord of the Rings of its time, featuring then state-of-the-art movie magic. It many ways, it was probably one of the last big hurrahs of stop-motion and animatronic special effects, before CG effects started to reign from the late 1990s onwards. Some 30 years later, many of the battle and combat scenes in Episode V still look and feel more believable than most CG effects out there today.

That, plus the fact that the film had arguably the best plot and the best acting of all six Star Wars movies, makes The Empire Strikes Back all the more special for old-time fans like me. Enjoy the following clip. Do or do not, there is no try!

Like you, I am also a great fan of the original trilogy (not so much the new trilogy tho), and Empire Strikes Back still remains the only movie I have seen, and I do not joke you when I say this, 17 times in a row. I was still a small kid so go figure This movie was pretty much the movie that introduced me to the world of cinema, movies and the theater, and I deem it to be the best movie of all time. There's no comparing it with Lord of the Rings, whether or not it was LotR of its time. Reason I say that is because LotR movies are based on the books. The Star Wars films are its own legend, original and based on nothing but Lucas's own, now defunct creativity and possibly several old Samurai stories. There's absolutely nothing like the original trilogy imho, and probably never will be. Happy Thirty, Empire!

And here is the sequence of scenes that define the movie:

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Old 2010-05-22, 17:12   Link #7322
Roger Rambo
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Originally Posted by Arbitres View Post
You mean one step closer to creating biologically enhanced soldiers. D=
You mean expensive infantry speed bumps for when the enemy shows up in his walking armored artillery platforms?

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Speak of the devil.
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Old 2010-05-22, 18:01   Link #7323
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I don't think I was old enough to have watched The Empire Strikes Back in a cinema, but like probably any other kid in the 1980s, I lapped up every minute of it on video (Return of the Jedi was the first Star Wars film I actually watched in a cinema, at the Lido in Orchard Road, Singapore). It was the Lord of the Rings of its time, featuring then state-of-the-art movie magic. It many ways, it was probably one of the last big hurrahs of stop-motion and animatronic special effects, before CG effects started to reign from the late 1990s onwards. Some 30 years later, many of the battle and combat scenes in Episode V still look and feel more believable than most CG effects out there today.

That, plus the fact that the film had arguably the best plot and the best acting of all six Star Wars movies, makes The Empire Strikes Back all the more special for old-time fans like me. Enjoy the following clip. Do or do not, there is no try!

<snip>
Though I missed all 3 movies since I am born in 1988, ROTJ was the first movie I ever watched in my life.

I was fascinated by the science rather than the special effects behind it, being a boy I was like, "wow, cool!" at the lasers, and that was what sparked my interest in astronomy and quantum mechanics. Much less to be said, Star Wars was my favourite set of films of all time. And my sister and female friends never understood why their male classmates/friends and boyfriends are rushing to see "The Phantom Menace" when it first came out.

Alternatively......


For those who do not understand, basically they are saying the same lines, but rather than formal Hokkien, they are speaking in pidgin. The lines go :

Luke : Oww! My hand!
Vader : Luke, turn to the dark side!
Luke : Wait long long (a way of saying "not on your life!" in hokkien)!
Vader : Luke, I am your father!
Luke : It can't be! It can't be! My father is dead!

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Old 2010-05-22, 20:57   Link #7324
MitsubishiZero
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Originally Posted by Yoko Takeo View Post
Didn't the Americans already do that before when Saddam came to power? Oh wait......



What communism was yesterday to the US is what Islam is today. I'm quite thankful that the Republicans didn't take the White House, and I hope they never will. Because I get the feeling that if they do, they're gonna try to eradicate Islam entirely from all the middle eastern countries and establish their own belief system. That's what the Crusaders and Templars did in the past, and if you consider my conspiracy theory, that's probably exactly what they're after.



I somehow think that China and the US are gonna go to war with each other. There's been some bad beef between them for some time, especially after the recent Google China mix-up. It's behavior like this on the US's part that causes such hostility to exist. If the US didn't bother, I doubt there'd be as much trouble as there is between one another.

Actually it's really hard for the Chinese. Their cost of producing anything is much cheaper than in America, so everything they sell can be better in quality and lower in price, which naturally putting US products out of competition. Yes, the labour conditions there may be bad but as a consumer, when you need to settle basic necessities like food, you don't really have 1. a lot of choices and 2. a lot of room for choices. Of course, you can get organic US stuff which is undoubtly great, but you don't really have a choice if you don't have a lot of money to spare.
This is where the problem gets worse. The US government is stuck on setting restrictions on Chinese products and imposing ridiculous taxes on their products, which ultimately the US citizens pay the price. The US always complains about the value of the yuan and demands the yuan to be manipulated so that the US will have trade advantage. The things is, the things the Chinese wants (hight tech stuff, etc) are restricted and not sold to them, while the things they sell to the Chinese is not competitive enough than other imports (cars, electronics gadgets etc), not to mention local prodcuts. And the Chinese isn't crazy enough to listen to the US and raise the yuan's value as they wanted. They knew what happened to Japan after what US did to them and they also know that they keep printing more and more US dollar money. I am not old enough to know how the whole system works but I do know printing money is not always a good thing. Over this matter I think the US really deserves a beating. Look, they even resorted to trying to declare some countries in Asia "currency manipulating countries". Taiwan?Singapore?Hong Kong? WTF? They on drugs or something? I don't know about Taiwan or Singapore, but I did read something about Hong Kong and they use a linked currency exchanged rate (HKD to USD) at 7.8 and only little fluctuation is allowed. How can you declare this "manipulating of currency" when this system has been in place for 27 years?? (since 1983)
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Old 2010-05-23, 06:26   Link #7325
Kamui4356
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Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
Actually it's really hard for the Chinese. Their cost of producing anything is much cheaper than in America, so everything they sell can be better in quality and lower in price, which naturally putting US products out of competition. Yes, the labour conditions there may be bad but as a consumer, when you need to settle basic necessities like food, you don't really have 1. a lot of choices and 2. a lot of room for choices. Of course, you can get organic US stuff which is undoubtly great, but you don't really have a choice if you don't have a lot of money to spare.
It's easy to make cheap food when you use toxic chemicals to make it appear to meet standards. Also, it's not just things cost less to make in China. The Chinese deliberately dump products on the international market at below cost.

Quote:
This is where the problem gets worse. The US government is stuck on setting restrictions on Chinese products and imposing ridiculous taxes on their products, which ultimately the US citizens pay the price.
Products that are priced below cost to begin with in order to grab a larger share of the international market.

Quote:
The US always complains about the value of the yuan and demands the yuan to be manipulated so that the US will have trade advantage.
Because the Chinese don't keep the yuan artificially low to help stimulate their exports. The US are obviously the bad guys here for wanting the Chinese to allow the currency market to set the value of the yuan like it does for the dollar, the yen, the pound, the euro...

Quote:
The things is, the things the Chinese wants (hight tech stuff, etc) are restricted and not sold to them, while the things they sell to the Chinese is not competitive enough than other imports (cars, electronics gadgets etc), not to mention local prodcuts.
This doesn't even make sense. What are you even trying to say here? Of course technology is going to be restricted. No one sells their most advanced technology to other countries, even if they're on good terms with them.

Quote:
And the Chinese isn't crazy enough to listen to the US and raise the yuan's value as they wanted.
The US isn't asking them to arbitrarily raise the value of the yuan. It's asking them to stop fixing the value artificially low and let the international currency markets set the value. That pretty much everyone agrees this would result in the yuan being worth more should tell you a lot about it's current value.

Quote:
They knew what happened to Japan after what US did to them
Did what? Helped them rebuild after WWII and become the world's second largest economy?
Quote:
and they also know that they keep printing more and more US dollar money. I am not old enough to know how the whole system works but I do know printing money is not always a good thing.
It's also not always a bad thing. Sometimes you need to be able to print more money. Also, age has little to do with not understanding how the system works. Not bothering to study how it works though...

Quote:
Over this matter I think the US really deserves a beating. Look, they even resorted to trying to declare some countries in Asia "currency manipulating countries". Taiwan?Singapore?Hong Kong? WTF? They on drugs or something? I don't know about Taiwan or Singapore, but I did read something about Hong Kong and they use a linked currency exchanged rate (HKD to USD) at 7.8 and only little fluctuation is allowed. How can you declare this "manipulating of currency" when this system has been in place for 27 years?? (since 1983)
"They've been doing it for a while. That makes it legit." You might be able to use a "why didn't you call them on it when they first started?" argument, but that doesn't make it any less currency manipulation.

Also, paragraphs are your friend.
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Old 2010-05-23, 08:00   Link #7326
ChainLegacy
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Though what is the aim here, for the US? If the yuan strengthens, are we expecting the US exports market to go up and to even our deficit with China? That's a pipe dream. The Chinese have more assets backing up their currency, a far larger manufacturing base, and if their currency really does strengthen then the US will have a whole new world of problems. The currency peg has allowed the US to remain so consumerist despite being a nation in financial tatters.
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Old 2010-05-23, 08:05   Link #7327
LynnieS
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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
Products that are priced below cost to begin with in order to grab a larger share of the international market.
I "believe" that in China, there are two "classes" of goods available - one meant for the domestic market and one for export.

Spoiler for A bit too long so hide it:
There was, I seem to remember, some plan to make people's salaries higher in China awhile back. I'm not sure what happened it since, but do think that countries like the U.S. weren't too pleased as if China had revalued the RMB up. It's also not likely that the average citizen in the U.S. would be too willing to pay for higher priced goods when he has gotten used to cheap prices for lots more, esp. when you are talking about average consumer products.

I'm also thinking that it won't be too effective with the raising salaries since the economy here is still fairly closed off. What will people buy? More darn apartments and cars - as if there aren't enough crappy buidings and floods of cars on the roads these days?

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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
Because the Chinese don't keep the yuan artificially low to help stimulate their exports. The US are obviously the bad guys here for wanting the Chinese to allow the currency market to set the value of the yuan like it does for the dollar, the yen, the pound, the euro...
No, just hopelessly unrealistic, IMHO. A part of that move is, IMHO, a claim that a more expensive RMB would cause more jobs to be created in the U.S., I think? That is, if it becomes more expensive to source something from China, manufacturers would reopen factories in the U.S. and hire more workers. I'd like to see the assumptions behind that claim if so.

It's more likely that manufacturers will just go elsewhere instead. For the average consumer product - excluding the high-end goods - people won't buy (or buy less) if things are too expensive, esp. if their buying power is not catching up. There are plenty of other countries out there happy to take over China's place.

Spoiler for A bit off-topic:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
This doesn't even make sense. What are you even trying to say here? Of course technology is going to be restricted. No one sells their most advanced technology to other countries, even if they're on good terms with them.
*cough* Excluding to Israel maybe? I would say also to Taiwan and Japan, but neither country was as high as each was earlier, IMHO. I don't think that that particular lobby has gotten weaker since I moved out of the country? Actually, do lobbies get weaker even?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
The US isn't asking them to arbitrarily raise the value of the yuan. It's asking them to stop fixing the value artificially low and let the international currency markets set the value. That pretty much everyone agrees this would result in the yuan being worth more should tell you a lot about it's current value.
Yes, the RMB's value is lower than it should be, esp. give that the country is having a big trade-related surplus. The international currency markets... are a bit of a joke, IMHO. Too many countries intervene in them one way or another. Countries like Japan that depend on exports usually want their currencies to trade within a range, and the U.S. - with both producers and consumers - isn't that much better. Make the dollar too strong, and the local manufacturers would scream while making it too weak makes the consumers unhappy.
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Old 2010-05-23, 14:41   Link #7328
Roger Rambo
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Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
Actually it's really hard for the Chinese. Their cost of producing anything is much cheaper than in America, so everything they sell can be better in quality and lower in price, which naturally putting US products out of competition.
Better in quality? HA! That's a joke.

There are two types of Appliances. Appliances from before US outsourcing to China, and appliances after US outsourcing to China. You'll buy some of this new cheap china stuff, and it'll break down before that old 20-30 year old American made stuff will. My familiy has this toaster that we got after my Grand mother died, and it's vintage 60's/70's and the bloody thing still works like a charm. We seem to replace these new Chinese made one's every other year.


edit:Though listening to LynnieS, it sounds like a great deal of the quality issues in Chinese exports may revolve around American companies liking that kind of cheap stuff.
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Old 2010-05-23, 19:37   Link #7329
Joojoobees
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Though what is the aim here, for the US? If the yuan strengthens, are we expecting the US exports market to go up and to even our deficit with China? That's a pipe dream.
Exports are only half of the trade deficit equation. If the Yuan rises in value all Chinese Imports will become more expensive which would have an inevitable effect (American consumers buying from a competitor, possibly domestic, or choosing an alternative way to meet the need).
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
The Chinese have more assets backing up their currency, a far larger manufacturing base, and if their currency really does strengthen then the US will have a whole new world of problems. The currency peg has allowed the US to remain so consumerist despite being a nation in financial tatters.
Maybe so, but if the Yuan rises in value versus the Dollar, the US gets to pay back loans in a devalued currency, which has to add up considering the trillions of Dollars owed to them. Think of it as anti-interest.
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Old 2010-05-23, 19:57   Link #7330
ChainLegacy
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Perhaps in that regard it would be beneficial. But I can't help but feel like it would do more harm than good since the US has no manufacturing jobs anymore. If we had a manufacturing base that could take advantage of yuan strengthening, I would be more optimistic, but we're essentially all services now. It's a risky position to be in financially.
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Old 2010-05-23, 21:08   Link #7331
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
we're essentially all services now. It's a risky position to be in financially.
I'll agree with that.

There's a vein of naive Idealism that runs through American philosophies, both Left and Right. On the Right it often emerges as an unshakable faith in Free Markets. Unfortunately the logic of free markets will not necessarily play out well for any given actor, or group of actors. As a nation, America has the right, or even the imperative, to act in its own self-defense, but free market idealists have insisted for a generation that any attempt at placing a hand to the tiller of our economic destiny is unwelcome interference in the free market.

We can continue to drift aimlessly, and allow the current to take us towards the rocks, or someone can attempt to guide the ship. Producing value that can be exchanged in the global marketplace will require some sort of national planning. The most sensible thing I had heard in a while was the notion of creating the industrial capacity to sell clean energy goods to the rest of the world. It doesn't surprise me at all that that initiative has fallen to the wayside. While Washington squabbles, the ship drifts towards the rocks.
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Old 2010-05-23, 21:33   Link #7332
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Perhaps in that regard it would be beneficial. But I can't help but feel like it would do more harm than good since the US has no manufacturing jobs anymore. If we had a manufacturing base that could take advantage of yuan strengthening, I would be more optimistic, but we're essentially all services now. It's a risky position to be in financially.
The reason we don't have manufacturing jobs anymore is because it was cheaper to move manufacturing elsewhere. If China's currency rose properly then manufacturing would move elsewhere. It probably wouldn't move back to the US, but rather to Vietnam or anywhere else where it's cheaper... but if it were ever cheaper to move manufacturing to the US, it would be moved back. Just because we're not manufacturing much these days doesn't mean that we can't start it up again.

That aside, wealth and prosperity depends on a healthy trade balance. If we're just importing goods from other countries then we're still exporting something: wealth. If it isn't returned to us in some form then we get a collapse, as we won't be able to afford anything anymore. That's bad for the rest of the world, now that economies are all connected, but it's even worse for those of us here. This is why currency fixing is a bit of a dirty trick; the currencies should rise and fall based on the balance. China's fixing of their currency has allowed them to accumulate a lot of wealth without triggering any of the factors that would balance it out.
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Old 2010-05-24, 02:50   Link #7333
olympian819
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Originally Posted by Roger Rambo View Post
Better in quality? HA! That's a joke.

There are two types of Appliances. Appliances from before US outsourcing to China, and appliances after US outsourcing to China. You'll buy some of this new cheap china stuff, and it'll break down before that old 20-30 year old American made stuff will. My familiy has this toaster that we got after my Grand mother died, and it's vintage 60's/70's and the bloody thing still works like a charm. We seem to replace these new Chinese made one's every other year.


edit:Though listening to LynnieS, it sounds like a great deal of the quality issues in Chinese exports may revolve around American companies liking that kind of cheap stuff.

You haven't seen the quality products that China can offer.
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Old 2010-05-24, 02:51   Link #7334
SaintessHeart
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Originally Posted by Joojoobees View Post
I'll agree with that.

There's a vein of naive Idealism that runs through American philosophies, both Left and Right. On the Right it often emerges as an unshakable faith in Free Markets. Unfortunately the logic of free markets will not necessarily play out well for any given actor, or group of actors. As a nation, America has the right, or even the imperative, to act in its own self-defense, but free market idealists have insisted for a generation that any attempt at placing a hand to the tiller of our economic destiny is unwelcome interference in the free market.

We can continue to drift aimlessly, and allow the current to take us towards the rocks, or someone can attempt to guide the ship. Producing value that can be exchanged in the global marketplace will require some sort of national planning. The most sensible thing I had heard in a while was the notion of creating the industrial capacity to sell clean energy goods to the rest of the world. It doesn't surprise me at all that that initiative has fallen to the wayside. While Washington squabbles, the ship drifts towards the rocks.
From a logical point of view, idealism isn't bad. It gives dreams, while pragmatism sets them logically right to benefit everyone.
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Old 2010-05-24, 05:11   Link #7335
Seitsuki
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idealism is fine. reality is a bi. what was it that Gandhi said of Western civilisation? "I think it would be a good idea." (hell, same for communism come to it. and any other form of government really.)

the current predicament is the fault of both sides, self serving as usual with a health serving of human bastardness flavoring both. China is flooding the markets with low quality cheap goods because there are a lot of people in the country, everyone wants a job, supply and demand etcetc. the quality is low because if you want something that is high quality then demand to pay rock bottom for it you are a moron. on the other hand the West (an unfair generalisation I guess) has come to expect low priced goods- if everyone was so serious about quality they'd stop buying the damn things, supply and demand again, but they don't and so fuel the exploitation (for want of a better word. and it's not far from the truth). that's pretty much the situation anyway, and either side can add flowery language and their own case points to strengthen their own argument but the point is there.

and the yuan is under-valued because it's good for exports, which the Chinese government likes. the US wants this to stop because it's not good for THEM. (and of course lots of other people but the main concern will obviously be for themselves.) those are the bare facts, they can be argued either way with countless bits of evidence to back them up but we have politicians and lawyers for that.


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Old 2010-05-24, 09:28   Link #7336
SaintessHeart
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Originally Posted by Seitsuki View Post
idealism is fine. reality is a bi. what was it that Gandhi said of Western civilisation? "I think it would be a good idea." (hell, same for communism come to it. and any other form of government really.)

the current predicament is the fault of both sides, self serving as usual with a health serving of human bastardness flavoring both. China is flooding the markets with low quality cheap goods because there are a lot of people in the country, everyone wants a job, supply and demand etcetc. the quality is low because if you want something that is high quality then demand to pay rock bottom for it you are a moron. on the other hand the West (an unfair generalisation I guess) has come to expect low priced goods- if everyone was so serious about quality they'd stop buying the damn things, supply and demand again, but they don't and so fuel the exploitation (for want of a better word. and it's not far from the truth). that's pretty much the situation anyway, and either side can add flowery language and their own case points to strengthen their own argument but the point is there.

and the yuan is under-valued because it's good for exports, which the Chinese government likes. the US wants this to stop because it's not good for THEM. (and of course lots of other people but the main concern will obviously be for themselves.) those are the bare facts, they can be argued either way with countless bits of evidence to back them up but we have politicians and lawyers for that.


...have a nice day
Yeah, the biggest problem of both the blues and reds back in the Cold War are the self-serving people on each side, and there's nothing wrong about their ideologies.

Similarly, with China not floating their yuan so more people will buy into them, I suspect that they are trying to get the world to buy into their products, and thus give them absolute control over the economy in the next half-decade.
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Most of all, you have to be disciplined and you have to save, even if you hate our current financial system. Because if you don't save, then you're guaranteed to end up with nothing.
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Old 2010-05-24, 10:57   Link #7337
Bri
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There are good reasons to both appreciate the Yuan and to leave it pegged to the dollar. Discussing the details would lead to a wall of text but the trade-off in China is between economic stability and increased domestic demand.

The issue of the US trade deficit is a separate issue and more political in nature then economic. On the whole comparative advantages make both the US and China better off, lower prices for consumer goods improve US consumer welfare and increased production stimulates Chinese growth. The main problem is that some US manufacturing industries suffer from Chinese competition, mainly textiles and apparel, furniture, plastics, and machine tools (source FAS). Their lobby results in Congressional calls for protectionist measures under the veil of the worsening trade deficit. If people who lose their jobs in manufacturing find work in other more sectors (which generate more added value) there is no loss to society (creative destruction). But this is a traumatic experience for individuals and a very sensitive area in politics.

Another issue is that China does not fully enforce intellectual property and limits market access for foreign companies. Accusations of foul play on the currency peg and the trade deficit can be used to secure concessions in other areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
That aside, wealth and prosperity depends on a healthy trade balance. If we're just importing goods from other countries then we're still exporting something: wealth. If it isn't returned to us in some form then we get a collapse, as we won't be able to afford anything anymore. That's bad for the rest of the world, now that economies are all connected, but it's even worse for those of us here. This is why currency fixing is a bit of a dirty trick; the currencies should rise and fall based on the balance. China's fixing of their currency has allowed them to accumulate a lot of wealth without triggering any of the factors that would balance it out.
Wealth only depends on national productivity growth which in the long term are based on levels of R&D and innovation, human capital (through education), and competition. Trade imbalances only affect wealth when they concern a significant percentage of GDP, but that is only really the case for small open economies and the OPEC. Even today, international trade only concerns a relative small part of GDP of large relatively closed economic zones like NAFTA, EU, China and India.

The consequence of extended trade deficits is a depreciation of a countries currency. The US dollar has for a long time been protected from this effect by it's reserve status. Developments in the U.S. budget deficit and the level of national debt may trigger a devaluation at some point (Samuelson, Bernanke) but that has a domestic origin.
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Old 2010-05-24, 11:29   Link #7338
LynnieS
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Originally Posted by Roger Rambo View Post
There are two types of Appliances. Appliances from before US outsourcing to China, and appliances after US outsourcing to China. You'll buy some of this new cheap china stuff, and it'll break down before that old 20-30 year old American made stuff will. My familiy has this toaster that we got after my Grand mother died, and it's vintage 60's/70's and the bloody thing still works like a charm. We seem to replace these new Chinese made one's every other year.
As the saying goes, they just don't build 'em like they used to! Although and IMHO, the whole move to electronics and etc. pretty much doomed *that* particular movement. Modern-day changes in design and manufacturing... concepts don't help either, I feel, but trade-offs happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Rambo View Post
edit:Though listening to LynnieS, it sounds like a great deal of the quality issues in Chinese exports may revolve around American companies liking that kind of cheap stuff.
Yes and no, IMHO. You have foreign companies coming in for the cheaper stuff, and yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if they are demanding - and getting - price concessions. With the volume and credit quality they can bring with them, it would be... fair to say that they should get some. OTOH, you also have lots of competitors for those orders so prices are already coming down. As a result, you hear... "stories" (I say this since I don't know of anyone who got affected personally yet) of held wages and etc.

All in all, I don't see anyone who (1) is entirely to blame and (2) is entirely blameless.

There can be decent local brands, IMHO. Meizu's iPhone-like clones weren't bad - but I still skipped on getting one - and Giant's more expensive bicycles (even the ones made in China - according to the shop rep (so take this with a grain of salt)) were still being offered for 13K+ RMB, which isn't that much of a saving.
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Old 2010-05-24, 11:46   Link #7339
ChainLegacy
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Massachusetts, US
Age: 25
We have to admit that US consumers also eat up the cheap crap. Look at how successful Wal-Mart is. It continues to exist because there is a huge market for it. We've moved away from a cultural focus on quality to looking for the best deal in every possible situation. It's understandable that people want affordable things, but it is driving the market away from quality. Wal-Mart will even go to Chinese manufacturers and dictate to them what type of items they want at what price.
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Old 2010-05-24, 12:19   Link #7340
TinyRedLeaf
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 39
It's an old report but, luckily, it's not very time-sensitive. It's an interesting story worth sharing, I thought.

OK now to 'go solo' in South Korea
Quote:
Seoul (May 8): Being alone, especially eating alone, used to amount to putting up a sign that says you are wangda (왕따), or an outcast, in South Korea. Women of all ages, especially, used to do everything with at least one friend, from eating in public to shopping and going to the bathroom.

The concept, however, seems to be changing. More men and women are going solo in public areas such as universities, restaurants and theaters. They "choose" to be alone, they say.

In a recent survey of 528 university students by Incruite, an online job search website, 34.5 per cent of the respondents considered themselves outsiders at school.

Among them, only 12.6 per cent said that they chose to withdraw from groups because they were not sociable enough. The remaining 87.4 per cent answered that they voluntarily became outsiders for different reasons — for example, not wanting to participate in unnecessary school events to concentrate more on studying or because they spend more time with friends outside of school.

Naturally, people's attitude towards outsiders is also growing more positive. Some 66.7 per cent of the respondents said that it is simply a different style of living while only 33.3 per cent answered that they are people who lack sociability.

Mr Kim Tae Hwan, a 25-year-old university student, prefers eating solo on campus. It has been so ever since he returned to school from his two-year military service.

"Sure, I have friends at school but I don't have much time to spare now that I have put myself out on the job market. I choose to eat quickly, alone, and get other things done rather than to spend much time over lunch," he said.

Recognising students' changing attitudes, a restaurant in Yonsei University recently installed partitions on its tables. Restaurants outside the campus are not missing out on the trend either. One by one, they have started to offer private seats for students and office workers who come alone for a quick lunch.

Ichimen, a ramen house which opened in Sinchon, central Seoul, two years ago, is one of them. As you walk into the restaurant, the first thing that greets you is not a waiter but an explanation board in three languages: Korean, English and Japanese.

Simply follow what it tells you to do and you will get to enjoy your ramen without having a single conversation with anyone or seeing anyone's face.

First, make your choice between two meals — a ramen or a katsudon — at the vending machine. Pay what you owe and you will get a meal ticket in return. Check another board for empty seats, and sit down. The seats have partitions on the sides and a red curtain in front. There are also napkins and hangers prepared behind each seat.

As soon as you press the bell on the table, the waiter/cook will silently approach from behind the curtain and hold out a hand to take your meal ticket and menu selection paper and give you a cup for water. No need to ring the bell again to ask for more water because there is a small tap installed at every seat.

Sales jumped 150 per cent within two years of opening, according to a spokesman for the restaurant, who added that the chain is planning to open more such stores.


STORY CONTINUES IN THE KOREA HERALD
My colleague and I immediately started consoling ourselves — it's so touching, we're not outcasts any more (*sob*sob*sniff*sniff*)! You see, the nature of our jobs is such that we take turns to go out for meals, which usually means we end up eating alone at nearby canteens or hawker stalls.

Mock consolation aside though, I do, in fact, eat out and go out alone pretty often. Like the university students polled above, I regard it as a different way of life and not a result of being unsociable. I simply enjoy the freedom of doing my own stuff at my own pace without having to put up with other people's tempers and moods. My thoughts alone keep me plenty busy!

At least two good female friends of mine have expressed opinions ranging between pity and bemusement, with respect to my preference for "flying solo". Admittedly, it's not a common lifestyle, and it did use to worry me once. But since taking up my present job, I've literally found myself in similar company (lame pun intended). The demands of the profession are really such that they effectively kill almost all hope of social life, a situation many of us apparently don't seem to mind very much.

So, to my fellow loners out there, you don't have to feel alone (yes, another lame pun!). In fact, someone has already been kind enough to publish an entire book outlining the loners' manifesto:

Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto
By Anneli Rufus
Quote:
I WENT to Fisherman's Wharf to watch daredevil navy pilots do stunts over San Francisco Bay. The six sleek planes dove and spiralled and sped off wing-to-wing, trailing curlicues of white smoke like whipped cream from aerosol cans. The roar of their engines drew call-and-response roars from the crowd below.

It was a crowd...and I thought, What am I doing here? As a rule, I avoid crowds. I am not an agoraphobe, but dislike crowds on principle. The inevitable if unwitting poke of strange elbows into breast and back. The potentiality — and it has been realised — of someone throwing up onto my shoes.

The premise, the presumption implicit in any crowd, from concert hall to kaffee klatsch to office party, that shared experiences are the only ones that count. The only experiences towards which everyone aspires. The only real ones.

But I never liked the circus as a child, and the audience was as much the cause as the clowns. So I said, What the hell. The spectators rippled and swirled, particoloured, like clouds of confetti... A jubiliation in the fact...that anything worth doing is not done alone.

I found a spot between a car and a family from India. I stood watching the planes, together with the crowd, and yet apart.
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