dimecres, 11 de març de 2009

Lenin was right

"Competition with China was structurally and qualitatively unequal. The chinese fixed the value of their currency against the US dollar, keeping it undervalued so as to give their exports greater competitiveness They provided little or no welfare for their workers, so their costs were artificially low. There were no independent unions in China, so the safety standards he had seen in Chinese factories would have been illegal in America. The state banking system provided cheap credit to state companies that could default without consequences. The central government gave generous value added tax rebates to exporters that were not available to US companies. Restrictions on emissions in China were lax, so companies had to play relatively little to keep the environment clean. Chinese companies routinely stole foreign intellectual property, but it was difficult to prosecute them because their courts were either corrupt or under government control.

The problem was that Boeing, like most multionationals, had worked out that it could save a lot of money by sending some if its manufacturing functions to China and other low-cost countries. It needed to do this to maximise the returns to its shareholders. But in doing so, it threatened to put out of business many of its small, long-term suppliers such as those of the Rockford dinner. The process was self-reinforcing. The more Boeing outsourced, the quicker the machine tool companies that supplied it went bust, providing opportunities for Chinese competitors to buy the technology they needed, better to supply companies like Boeing. Boeing makes money, but ultimately at the expense of the industries and jobs that sustain Middle America. In the opinion of Eric Anderberg, capitalism had lapsed into cannibalism. "Lenin said that America would tear itself apart from the inside through greed", he said. "And you know what? He was right."