Archive for the ‘products’ Category

China: Poorly Made Products Invade Auto Parts

December 20, 2008

Child restraints that may come apart in an impact. Fuses that could catch fire when overloaded. Tires susceptible to tread separation.

Those are some of the dangers American consumers face as Chinese manufacturers increase the number of automotive parts they are sending to the United States, according to consumer and safety advocates. They parallel problems with some other products from China ranging from medicine to pet food to children’s toys.

The complexity of today’s cars creates many possibilities for problems with imported parts: tire valves that break and let air escape; replacement window glass that does not meet the standards for tempered glass; high-intensity discharge headlight conversions that don’t meet federal standards.

There are so many automotive products coming in from China that American safety officials can’t keep track of them, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

By Christopher Jensen
Wheels
The New York Times

auto parts
Above: Flaws in auto parts produced in China are raising concerns among safety advocates. Above, a transmission parts producer in Nanchang. (Adrian Bradshaw/European Pressphoto Agency)

Mr. Ditlow has been researching recalls of Chinese auto parts in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records. Those recalls are now posted on the safety center’s Web site.

Mr. Ditlow said his review convinces him that too many Chinese companies are unfamiliar with — or don’t care about — safety standards in the United States and thus don’t meet them.

For consumers, that means automotive equipment made in China is less likely to comply with safety standards than the same product made in the United States, Mr. Ditlow said.

“The companies in North America know that process,” he said.

Sean Kane is the director of Safety Research & Strategies, a consulting firm. He worried that consumers think there is more government oversight of automotive equipment coming from China than actually exists.

Dan Smith, associate administrator for enforcement at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says one factor causing these problems is the speed at which China has industrialized.

“It is kind of like their Industrial Revolution happened in a quarter of the time ours did,” he said. “Therefore I think quality control measures need to be emphasized to the extreme in their products.”

Read the rest:
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/rec
alls-of-chinese-auto-parts-are-a-mounting-concern/?hp

Unexpected Drop in China’s Imports and Exports

December 10, 2008

China’s exports fell for the first time in seven years, the government reported Wednesday, sliding 2.2 percent in November and providing stark evidence that the global financial crisis has arrived here in earnest.

In October, by contrast, exports had surged 19.2 percent.

Imports also plunged sharply last month, falling 17.9 percent and widening the trade surplus to $40 billion, from $35.2 billion in October.

Taken together, the trade figures will be bracing to those who had viewed China as a potential savior for the slumping economies of the Europe, Japan and the United States.

“We were expecting a slowdown but the magnitude is a bit shocking,” Wang Tao, an analyst at UBS Securities, said.

The figures, together with further signs of a sagging economy in Japan, paint a picture of economic gloom spreading across Asia — even if much of the region will suffer from a less severe downturn than the United States and Europe.

By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times

Aly Song/Reuters

A man rode a bicycle past containers at a port in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The worrisome developments will put added pressure on the Chinese government, which only last month announced a $586 billion stimulus package aimed at cushioning the effects of the global slowdown. In recent weeks, the government has reduced interest rates and taxes on stock trades and announced other measures aimed at lifting domestic consumption.

In a report broadcast on China National Radio after the trade figures were released, the government vowed to expand spending and cut taxes next year in an effort to spur job creation and bolster agriculture, social security, education and small and medium-size enterprises.

Beijing will also seek to ensure “healthy and stable” growth of the nation’s property markets, which has slowed sharply in recent months.

In another batch of sobering news, the government said that direct foreign investment fell 36.5 percent from a year earlier and that the producer price index, a measure of inflation at the factory level, had fallen to its lowest rate in two years. That figure, 2 percent in November, was 6.6 percent a month earlier. In August, when that number hit 10.1 percent, the government was focused on stemming the threat of inflation.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/business/11yuan.html?hp

Juggernaut of U.S. Industrial Might Now “Rust Belt,” For Good Or Bad?

December 7, 2008

From the 1940s and the industrialization of World War II, a vast expanse of America became the the “induatrial hearland,” much of which was centered upon the factories that made the  automobile and other vehicles.

Iron ore came from Duluth, Minnesota via the Graet Lakes to Cleveland, and then passed by rail to Pittsburgh.  Akron made rubber for tires and Detroit was the centerpiece of it all, the automobile factory of the world.

I grew up in that industrial Midwest, watching the ore ships pass through the lakes and waiting for the local railroad, the “Nickle Plate,” to pass.  I left the Midwest in the 1970s and pretty much forgot about the industrial hearland until my return in the 1990s.

Logo

To my surprise, the industrial heartland had become the “Rust belt.”

Today, Detroit is a troubled ghost town.

Early tank production at the Army Tank Aresenal
Early tank production at the Army Tank Arsenal, Detroit.
Photo courtesy Albert Kahn Associates

Today, nations with lower labor costs, less interest in human rights and little concern for full coverage healthcare have passed the industrial U.S. by.

And as we read about “saving the Big three Automobile Makers” I am not sure how I feel.  But I do know that a nation without industrial might is often lost before long.

China can make our lawn furniture and Japan and Germany can make our cars.  But what do we in America make that is affordable enough and desireable enough to appeal to both American buyers and the world community at large?  We export “culture” in the form of movies, music and DVDs.  Plus we export computer know-how and software.  But where is the beef?

I my view, and this is certainly an unfinished thought, we can not be an American Superpower for long without one facet of that superpower: the ability to out design and outbuild others who would gladly produce more for less and sell it to a consumer nation.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

U.S. Consumer Spending is Two-Thirds of Economy

By Annie Baxter, Minnesota Public Radio

More than two-thirds of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product derives from everyday stuff like dining out, buying a new shirt or visiting the dentist. About 14 percent stems from private investment, for instance companies purchasing new machinery or building new factories. And the rest comes from government spending on things like bridge building, schools, and defense.

You can find varying notions about whether the mix is right or not.

“A lot of analysts would argue we need to increase the amount of investment spending.”

“Government spending is not, unless done wisely, the answer.”

And some notions are a little more “out there” than others…

Larger view
New GDP numbers show that more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy is made up of consumer spending. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Read the rest:
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/200
8/10/29/gdp_numbers_consumer_spending/

Related:
Get the Feeling Russia and China Are Slicing Up The World and the U.S. Will Be Left Out?