Posted by mmcmullan
• 04/22/2014

Good morning,

and welcome to the Early Shift. We had a longer weekend here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing than expected. But things are back to normal for us in Washington, DC …

… so let’s get caught up on all of the goings on in manufacturing news.

It’s not all Easter Egg Rolls for President Obama. He’s embarking upon a trip to four countries in Asia, where chief among his priorities will be shoring up support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, a massive trade agreement with signatory countries encompassing more than 40 percent of global GDP.

Will the president fight for a TPP rule against currency manipulation, the practice of gaming exchange rates to subsidize your exports? No, he most likely won’t. Such a rule hasn’t been suggested by the American negotiators so far, despite broad congressional support for one, and data that shows ending currency manipulation as a global practice would reintroduce the economic demand to create millions of American jobs.

It’s a bummer that he won’t. Even some of the highest of highbrow editorial writers these days think that the trade pacts America negotiates should pay more attention to preserving actual jobs in this country. It’s curious that the White House doesn’t see it the same way.

And speaking of currency manipulation: The Wall Street Journal reports that China’s currency, the yuan, has fallen to its weakest level in over a year. That’s only days after the U.S. Treasury Department wagged its finger at the government in Beijing for fiddling with its exchange rate, but declined to name it a currency manipulator for the 11th time during the Obama administration.

And ICYMI: The Alliance for American Manufacturing’s (AAM) latest poll came in a little while ago, but its results are still eye-opening. Did you know that voters favor job creation over deficit reduction by a 2-1 margin?

Have a good week, everybody.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 04/18/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. It’s a big weekend for Peeps fans out there. If you’re among the majority of Americans who didn’t win the Washington Post’s Peeps diorama contest, just eat them instead (and enjoy the pretty pictures).

But enough about Peeps (I know; there’s never enough). What’s happened this week in manufacturing news?

Well. The Department of the Treasury released its Semi-Annual Report to Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies – which is an opportunity for the administration to call out currency manipulators. The Obama White House, now in its sixth year of governing, turned down the opportunity to get serious about China’s unfair exchange rate for the 11th time in a row (that’s 11 times after candidate Obama suggested he’d do otherwise while on the ’08 campaign trail). It’s an unfortunate fact that advocates for smarter trade policy have come to live with. Said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul:

(The Treasury report is) not a surprise. But it is surprising that the decision comes in the wake of China’s moves to both devalue the yuan in the short term and dramatically slow its appreciation over the past year.

In fact, the rate of the yuan’s appreciation is far less under President Obama than it was under President Bush.

But that’s not the only arena in which currency manipulation remains a topic of discussion: Ford Motor Company is continuing to push for a currency rule in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. Reports the Detroit News:

The proposed …  trade pact is facing strong opposition from U.S. automakers and the United Auto Workers union. And in recent weeks the top two Democrats in Congress both said they oppose fast-track legislation that would allow for a quick up or down vote on an agreement without changes.

And ICYMI: Willy Shih, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and something of an expert on the state of American manufacturing, gives the country’s efforts to revive the industry a C-. Read more about Shih’s take in IndustryWeek.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Have a heckuva weekend, and we’ll catch you after the holiday. Go easy on the chocolate this Sunday.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 04/14/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. We’ve got a lot to get to this morning. So let’s get cracking:

Plenty of opinions to go around today, like this one from Evan Soltas at Bloomberg View:

The larger problem isn’t that women are paid less than men for the same work; it’s that the American workplace puts women at a disadvantage before any apples-to-apples comparison can be made. …

Take occupations. One of the more disturbing signs is that industries where women had made limited progress in the 1970s and 1980s but never fully broke through -- such as manufacturing and information -- are slipping back toward male-only domains.

A manufacturing career for women, eh? It’s not such a bad idea! Just ask Korene:

Another opinion for you to munch on: Just how secure is America’s defense industrial base? Not very. Brigadier General John Adams (U.S. Army, Ret.) – author of the exhaustive and essential Remaking American Security – wrote recently in The Hill:

Recently, Foreign Policy reported that the U.S Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security had suspended U.S. exports of “defense article and defense services” to Russia. Does anyone seriously believe that China wouldn’t take similar steps against the United States if it became involved in a serious crisis in the South China Sea?

And speaking of China, take a look at this interesting little insight from the chief of the People’s Bank of China, who is quite comfortable with his institution’s immediate political links to the country’s ruling communist party. This might provide a little understanding of the bank’s starring role in China’s currency manipulation campaign.

ICYMI: Thirty-one senators – 16 Republicans and 15 Democrats – are urging the Obama administration to get tough on underpriced steel imports.

And lastly, as the Easter Bunny approaches, we ask: Where are Peeps made? Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, natch.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Let’s get this week going.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 04/11/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. Spring is here, everybody! In DC, that means cherry blossoms:

But it’s not all pink flowers out there. What have we been reading about this week?

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. The TPP trade negotiations are ongoing, but despite stonewalling from the Obama administration, legislators in Washington are still urging that provisions on currency manipulation should be part of any finished deal. Read what Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Sandy Levin have to say on the subject.

China’s financial markets on shaky ground? The Washington Post’s David Ignatius takes a look and doesn’t like what he sees.

China remains an opaque country, and even the most knowledgeable experts say they aren’t sure how to read the tea leaves. But the warning signs are growing that, after decades of economic expansion and exploding wealth, China is moving toward the scary side of the perpetual seesaw between greed and fear that drives financial markets.

And ICYMI, here’s a good, quick read: Dunstan Prial writes for Fox Business News that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, quarterback of the world’s largest economy, has a megaphone and knows how to effectively use it to fight unemployment.  

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Have a great weekend, and we’ll catch up with you on Monday.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 04/07/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. Our own bracket was busted long ago, but it seems the stars are aligning for the Kentucky basketball addict who got the following tattooed on him weeks ago, long before the eighth-seeded Wildcats began their run to the championship game:

That’s called prescience. One more win to go, Super Fan!

But since there aren’t any UK or UConn grads in the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) office, we’ve got plenty of time to read up on manufacturing and economic news. So: What’s happening out there in the world?

Cyber-attacks against American targets that originate in China remain a serious concern for Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Department of Defense, reports the New York Times. But at the end of the day:

Most continue to be aimed at stealing technology and other intellectual property from Silicon Valley, military contractors and energy firms. Many are believed to be linked to cyberwarfare units of the People’s Liberation Army acting on behalf of state-owned, or state-affiliated, Chinese companies.

‘To the Chinese, this isn’t first and foremost a military weapon, it’s an economic weapon,’ said Laura Galante, a former Defense Intelligence Agency cyberspecialist.

We warned as much last year: Until our favorable economic policies toward China change, don’t expect China’s belligerent behavior to change either.

ICYMI: A cool column in this weekend’s Washington Post about — fancy that — job training provided by a manufacturing employer. Read all about Wright Manufacturing of Frederick, Maryland, who shows you how it’s done.

And lastly: Back we go to the Post for a longer-form look at the landscape traversed by today’s job seekers:

This is the way an economy recovers. Sometimes Wal-Mart opens one new store and 23,000 people submit applications. Other times, as hiring confidence goes up — as the economy last month added 192,000 positions — recovery looks more like ... a puzzle of mismatched statistics in which qualified workers can’t find jobs, and jobs can’t quite find qualified workers.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with manufacturing news throughout the week. And enjoy tonight’s game!



Posted by TGarland
• 04/04/2014

Good morning,

Happy Friday, and welcome to the Jobs Day Early Shift. We’ve been combing through a big week in data land with a new employment report and new trade figures. And guess what?  Although the #AAMeter saw a bump upward, March’s manufacuturing jobs numbers weren’t so good.

Exactly how bad were they? Well…

You read that right. March was the month economists were looking at to either confirm or deny reports that a bad winter was responsible for the poor jobs numbers as of late. But, alas, it wasn’t the weather.  As Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul stated:

It's not the robots nor the weather. There are still more manufacturing jobs leaving the U.S. than coming back. It doesn’t have to be this way. Lowering the trade deficit, investing in infrastructure, and boosting worker training could help to get us back on track.

That trade deficit Paul speaks of grew to $42.3 billion in February. If the president wants to create 1 million manufacturing jobs by the end of his second term, he should tackle the trade deficit. We’ve got the entire blueprint right here for the manufacturing resurgence that the president and Congress should be following.

So what else is happening out there?

Just in case you needed a reminder of what those lost manufacturing jobs look like: Photographer Paul Raphaelson takes us inside the soon-to-be demolished Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn. The gallery is haunting. (Photo credit Paul Raphaelson)

ICYMI: The United Steelworkers (USW) and AAM hosted President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 in Akron, Ohio this week. USW President Leo Gerard explained why all manufacturing—whether it’s considered traditional or new technology—needs to move forward:

All manufacturing in America can and must advance. This doesn’t just mean developing new technologies, but also the supply chains for components for those new technologies made by the same folks who have been building America for more than a century.

Lastly, our favorite American-made sneaker company reminds us why it makes sense to manufacture in the U.S. New Balance CEO Robert DeMatrini says rising labor costs in foreign markets and proximity to the customer for customization, provides New Balance with a reason to keep it local.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all for this Friday’s Early Shift. Have a good weekend, everybody. And dare we say: enjoy the weather?


Posted by mmcmullan
• 03/31/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. We’re staring down a busy week: The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) will be traveling to the University of Akron for a regional meeting of the Obama administration's AMP 2.0 project.  We'll also be watching for the monthly trade figures on Thursday, and taking a look at the unemployment rate when it’s updated on Friday. Last month’s numbers showed that manufacturing job creation has essentially stalled, and that a comprehensive job creation strategy is becoming more and more necessary. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any such strategy in the past few weeks. What will this month’s data look like?

But here’s what we’re reading in the meantime:

The debate over American-made footwear for our troops goes on. The International Business Times reports that the Berry Amendment exemption allowing Department of Defense dollars to go to athletic shoes made overseas continues to catch heat. Meanwhile, the number of Berry-compliant shoe options is growing.

Crazy factoid of the weekend: "About $1.2 billion of the $1.7 billion worth of imitations picked up by U.S. law enforcement agencies originated in mainland China." 24/7 Wall St. has a rundown of the nine most counterfeited products in the American marketplace.

And ICYMI, Paul Krugman says the Economic Policy Institute’s report on the skills gap myth has killed this iteration of undead economics once again:

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. We’ll circle back around with you on Friday.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 03/28/2014

Happy Friday,

And welcome to the Early Shift. It’s been a busy week, and we’ve got a lot of stuff to throw at you.

Like, for instance, the news of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found China has indeed been unfairly limiting exports of rare earth elements. That’s a big deal.  More than 90 percent of the global production of these minerals comes from China, and they go into everything from smartphones to high-end military hardware. In response, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul focused on the latter:

These restrictions have also raised important national security concerns about a reliance on foreign suppliers for our military supply chain.

We’re pleased the Obama administration raised this issue at the WTO. The decision is an important one that not only encourages a free and fair market, but – with the help of expanded domestic production of these materials – could help to shore up America’s economic and security interests too.

Now, if only the same could be said about the federal government’s conclusions on the anti-competitive “dumping” being done by South Korean steelmakers who are flooding the U.S. market and swamping American jobs.

ICYMI: The Economic Policy Institute has issued a new report that further filets the myth of a skills gap.

And lastly: Dayton helped bust our bracket a little more last night. But we’re big fans anyway. Well done, boys:

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. We’ll see you on Monday.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 03/24/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. The Alliance for American Manufacturing’s (AAM) bracket, determined by job creation potential, is in shambles. But boy, were those college hoops games good this weekend. We’ll get over it. And c’est la vie, Wichita State!

But what else is happening out there?

President Obama met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Europe today. Lots of stuff on the agenda. Will the value of China’s currency be an item? The president’s trade representative said today the administration will “continue” to push for a market-oriented yuan, but it certainly hasn’t pushed very much so far.

ICYMI: The New York Times has an illuminating story on the state of gas utility infrastructure, in the Big Apple and elsewhere around the country:

Communities across the country have been struggling to replace thousands of miles of these old, metal pipes with pipes made of plastic or specially coated steel that are less prone to leakage. Few, however, face as daunting a challenge as New York City.

To replace all of the old mains in its network right now would cost as much as $10 billion, Con Edison estimates. Much of that expense would fall on the residents and businesses that use the gas for heating and cooking.

That sounds like a lot, but remember that Americans value infrastructure investment. That, and other factoids can be found in AAM’s latest poll. Here’s another good one:

And that’s it. That’s it, and that’s all, everyone. Have a good Monday! We’ll be here all week.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 03/21/2014

Good morning,

And welcome to the Early Shift. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has been hustling this week.  What have we been up to?

“Are we still a nation of makers?” That’s the first question that was asked last night by AAM President Scott Paul as he opened our forum in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on manufacturing’s intersection with America’s national security. Paul led a discussion on the health of our defense industrial base with Rhode Island’s Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Brigadier General John Adams, U.S. Army (ret), and representatives from the business and labor communities.

Adams, author of a recent report on vulnerabilities in America's military supply chain, said that U.S. procurement strategy continues to be a concern.  As proof, he pointed to news that inferior parts supplied by China are turning up in some of the Pentagon’s most sophisticated equipment. Definitely a story we’ll be watching.

Elsewhere: We watch plenty of television in these parts. And Scott Paul, particularly, is a fan of the Netflix series House of Cards. Why?

For the past seven years, I’ve urged Washington to stand up to China on its currency manipulation and other policies that have helped to erode U.S. manufacturing employment. Now, I’ve succeeded … at least on Netflix. A World Trade Organization case, brought by the fictional Walker/Underwood administration against China for manipulating its currency, is part of a Sino-American policy thread in the show’s second season.

The kicker is: Getting tough on China for its predatory trade practices actually works. Read the entire opinion here.

And lastly: It’s hoops season. Don’t even pretend that you aren’t streaming early-round NCAA basketball games to your browser right now. We’re only a day in, and lots of brackets have already been busted, but AAM stands by its picks – made, of course, by applying the number of jobs each school's congressional district could see created locally by ending global currency manipulation.

Check out our picks right here (Wichita State, all the way!). And once you get done marveling at the genius of our college hoops decisions, tell your legislator to stand up for American manufacturing by supporting a tougher trade agenda.

That’s it and that’s all, America. Have a safe weekend, and enjoy the games.


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