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By Raising Productivity, Agtech Boosts Value Of Farmland

Against the backdrop of the partial shutdown of the federal government, U.S. farmers and ranchers are no doubt looking for a happier new year in 2019. The burgeoning agtech sector could brighten things up by continuing to boost productivity and reverse the market setbacks of 2018. Not since the 1980 embargo on U.S. grain exports to Russia have farmers been so pressured by the vagaries of global trade policy. The statistics are telling. According to the USDA’s World Outlook Board, soybean exports hit by the retaliatory tariffs put in place by top importer China dropped in 2018 by about 11%.

 

Source: By Raising Productivity, Agtech Boosts Value Of Farmland

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The Paradox of Crypto In China

Skirting the Great Wall, Part Three: The Paradox of Cryptocurrencies in China https://www.pivot.one/share/post/5be97852cd5ee726e14c46d4?uid=5bd49f297d5fe7538e6111b6&invite_code=JTOJYV

Enterprises, Emotion & the Rise of The ‘Empathy Economy – Mike Elgan

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Big business is getting emotional.

User interfaces and other aspects of enterprise computing are being increasingly designed to detect the emotional states or moods of users, and also to simulate emotion when they communicate back to the users.

A Gartner report published in January said that within four years, your devices will “know more about your emotional state than your own family.”

Deep learning has advanced emotion detection from basic emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear and disgust to more than 20 more subtle emotions that include awe, happy surprise and hate.

Source: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3287092/artificial-intelligence/enterprises-emotion-and-the-rise-of-the-empathy-economy.html

 

 

 

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America’s Real Economy: It Isn’t Booming – Peter Georgescu

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Ostensibly, for the past ten years, US economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people.

At that level of income, there’s almost no way to pay for food and shelter in any sizeable American city. That means people now can both be employed and homeless. Rajon Menon writes, for The Nation:

In America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.

Fewer and fewer people have savings to weather time between jobs or an emergency expense. A third of the U.S. population has no savings and another third has saved less than $1,000. Two-thirds of American households, by this measure, are desperately scrambling to make ends meet from check to check. Nearly half the American population earns too little to live on comfortably:

One-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

Even in households that combine income from two wage-earners, it’s rarely enough to live on without anxieties about money. It takes an average of a little more than $100,000 per year now for a household to be able to live without anxieties about money.

Slow and steady inflation has eroded buying power over the past decade. According to The Nation, the minimum wage rose to $7.25 by 2009, but since then inflation has eroded 10% of its buying power. So this year, someone will have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

  • Healthcare costs are projected to go up 20% in the coming year.
  • Credit card debt has crested at a trillion dollars and is projected to increase at 4.7% by 2020.
  • Wages have been increasing by only 2.9% per year.
  • For the young, education debt has reached a record $1.52 trillion.

How long is this sustainable?

What’s genuinely astonishing to me is that the private sector doesn’t see the immense danger in all this—not simply the prospect of a collapse from enormous household debt loads, but the prospect of civil unrest after another huge correction like the one in 2008. Our current course is unsustainable. And for all the proposals for changes in public policy to ameliorate income inequality, only the private sector can get the nation on a better track by raising wages, increasing benefits and investing in new ventures and expanded markets.

There are numerous ways in which our wealthiest companies could help change the course of our economy. Here are some suggestions from Larry Thompson, former executive VP for PepsiCo, and his coauthors writing for Fortune magazine:

  • Get involved in early education for children of employees. Programs that start at birth can lift their earnings by up to 26%. At PNC Financial Services Group, their Grow Up Great program has served over 2 million children throughout the U.S., through grants to organizations that support early learning in math, science, and the arts.
  • Fund higher education for existing employees. In collaboration with Southern New Hampshire University, Anthem Insurance (ANTM, -0.06%) recently began making associate’s or bachelor’s degrees available at no cost for 50,000 eligible workers. Another company, FedEx, partners with nearly 20 higher education institutions including Western Governors University.
  • Businesses also should look to re-employ the long-term unemployed, Frontier Communications has hired more than 250 of the long-term unemployed in 2014 alone by eliminating most qualifications and simply observing how well applicants communicated.

These initiatives only scratch the surface, but they are exactly what all companies need to be thinking of doing. If every employer in America came up with even just one modest step—higher wages, regular profit sharing, tuition reimbursement—to help workers spend and save more, the nation would begin to right itself economically. It needs to happen now. We’re running out of time.

 

 

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Training Contracts: 8 Things eLearning Pros Need To Know – Christopher Pappas

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Everything eLearning Pros Need To Know About Training Contracts

Joseph R. Codde first introduced the term “Learning Contract” in 1996, years before the term “eLearning” was even coined. However, it’s the perfect addition to online training programs that lack structure and learner motivation. Applied in a corporate setting, “training contracts” hold corporate learners accountable for their own L&D, while still giving them the support and resources they require. Thus, they are more likely to actively engage in the online training experience and receive the full benefits. Here are 8 tips to use training contracts in online training.

1. Let Corporate Learners Take The Lead

Corporate learners must be able to construct their own training contracts based on personal learning goals and objectives. If they need some help identifying areas for improvement, provide self-assessments that shed light on strengths and weaknesses. Training contracts should be as specific as possible so that corporate learners can focus their efforts, instead of trying to concentrate on a multitude of tasks or topics, which often leads to cognitive overwhelm.

2. Include A Detailed Timeline And List Of Goals

Training contracts should also contain a detailed timeline of when each milestone will be achieved. For example, the date by which the corporate learner must complete their compliance certification course and take the final exam, or a schedule that highlights when they’ll achieve incremental goals that support their primary goal. If there are multiple outcomes involved, encourage corporate learners to break them down into easier digestible tasks. Otherwise, they may lose their motivation and drive before they reach the finish line.

3. Outline Relevant Online Training Resources And Activities

Corporate learners need online training resources, tools, and activities to accomplish their training goals within the specified time frame. Once they’ve chosen their milestones and overall objectives, they should turn to the online instructor/facilitator for recommendations. In this case, the online instructor serves as a guide who helps corporate learners stay on track and provides them with the support they require. It’s best to create a list of relevant online training resources, such as online training courses or links to external tools. For instance, eLearning articles, online training tutorials, or videos that will benefit the corporate learner and help them bridge the gap.

4. Develop Clear Assessment Criteria

Success means something different for everyone. Thus, you need to clearly define the criteria corporate learners must use to evaluate their progress. For example, online training assessments or instructor-led evaluations that focus on their areas for improvement. You can even use online training simulations and branching scenarios to test their practical knowledge application. Ensure that your criteria are measurable and clarify expectations. Corporate learners should know exactly what they need to do in order to achieve each milestone. Once again, they must play an active role in the criteria development process.

5. Have A Feedback System In Place

How do corporate learners know when they are on track or need to adjust their online training course? The answer is receiving ongoing feedback from the online instructor or facilitator. You can also use peer-based feedback if the online instructors play a less active role. The key is to provide constructive input that corporate learners can use to guide their efforts. It’s also essential for them to offer their own feedback based on their personal experiences. For example, they would like more interactive or audio-based resources that cater to their learning preferences. The feedback system should be clearly outlined in the training contract, including how often it will be exchanged and through which outlets.

6. Schedule Regular Progress Checks

It’s wise to schedule regular meetings wherein the corporate learner and online instructor or manager can discuss how to move forward. As an example, the corporate learner is not achieving their milestones as expected. Thus, they may require additional online training resources or additional one-on-one support, such as a mentorship online training program. You may wish to set the date for each meeting in the original training contract, or simply schedule each meeting a week in advance. It all depends on each party’s personal preferences and agenda.

7. Re-Evaluate The Terms Periodically

Nothing is set in stone. A training contract that works well for a corporate learner now may not be suitable in months to come. This is why it’s essential to periodically review training contracts and make adjustments when necessary. Their objectives may have evolved over time. The milestones need to be adjusted if the corporate learner is struggling to keep up, or if they are advancing more rapidly than expected. It’s a good idea to schedule progress check meetings to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. This also gives you the opportunity to analyze the existing training contract item by item and verify that it still addresses areas for improvement. For instance, the corporate learner may have already bridged a skill gap that is covered later in the contract timeline.

8. Provide Online Support Resources

In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings and peer-based feedback, corporate learners should have access to online support resources, such as social media groups, online discussions, corporate eLearning blogs, and FAQs. In some cases, a question can be answered immediately, instead of having to set up a video conferencing session with the online instructor. Microlearning online training libraries are also an invaluable tool for remote learners. These online training repositories feature bite-sized online training resources that are quick and convenient. Another notable characteristic is distinct categories that allow for easy access. For example, the online training repository is broken down into skill-based sections or topics. You might even consider learner-generated microlearning online training libraries. Corporate learners have the chance to upload their own online training content or share links with their peers. Last but not least, consider an online mentorship program that provides one-on-one support.

Training contracts empower corporate learners to take charge of their own skill and knowledge development. You can use these 8 tips to create effective training contracts, as well as the framework that goes along with this learner-centered strategy. It’s also important to collect continual feedback from your audience in order to personalize your approach.

Do you know how to create online training courses that allow your employees to hone their talents and achieve professional growth?  Read the article 8 Tips To Facilitate Professional Growth In Online Training to discover top tips to give your staff the support and online training resources they need to be their very best.

 

 

 

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The 15 Biggest Clues Your Business is Ready for Chatbots – Larry Kim

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Chatbot technologies and AI keep advancing. Maybe you’re wondering if the time is right for chatbots for your business.

Is it Time to Look at Chatbots for Small Business?

Here, 15 signs it’s time to invest in a chatbot.

1. You have a Blog

A chatbot can function as a blog RSS blaster, giving your posts high visibility.

You can deliver them with push notifications on Facebook Messenger and get 8x the open rate of email!

2. You have an Email Marketing List

Chat blast in the same way you always have with the same benefits as email blasting — but in a more natural, familiar and engaging way!


3. You’re Doing Facebook Ads

Messenger ads are an ad format with even more to offer businesses — contact info and opt-in to future messaging.

4. You’re Doing Marketing Automation

Chatbots support marketing automation — scheduling, reminders, surveys and more.

All that can be done via Facebook Messenger with a chatbot, where you’ll get more engagement than with traditional means like email.

Chatbots plug into your other business systems to connect all your lead and customer data from your CRM, to lead management, email marketing, web analytics and beyond.

5. You’re Doing Drip Campaigns

If you have a long onboarding process or a solution that requires training, you use drip campaigns to help lead users through the process. Drip campaigns work great with Messenger chatbots.

6. You’re Already Doing On-Site Chat Support

What’s better than an on-site chat support? Chat support on Facebook Messenger.

You save all chat history. You get people’s contact info. You can message those contacts later.

Chatbots never make customers wait, not to mention the fact you can cut back on expensive operator staffing.

7. You have a Healthy List of FAQs

Chatbots are great at answering frequently asked questions. Just set up the page you want to trigger based on keywords.


8. You’re Interested in a More Engaging Conversion Funnel

With a Facebook chatbot, you can offer conversion forms in a natural and familiar interface. Woo!

9. You’re Tired of Low Email Open Rates

The average email open rate is 10-15%. The average engagement with Facebook Messenger weighs in at 70-80%. If you need to up your Facebook messenger marketing strategy, then you need a very reliable chatbot for your page.

10. You Want to Offer Interactive Customer Service 24/7

Chatbots never close, and are ready to help answer your customers questions all day and all night.

11. You’d like More Sales (Who Wouldn’t?)

53% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they’re able to message your business.


12.Your Customers Prefer Interacting with a Chatbot

56% of people would rather message than call customer service. Give the people what they want!

13. A Live Person can Jump in Any Time and Take Over for the Bot

Chatbots allow you to scale your customer service.

The chatbot can handle all the basic queries seamlessly and a customer representative retains the ability to jump in any time and take over the conversation if things get more complicated.

14. Your Competitors are Doing It

Two billion Facebook messages are sent between businesses and customers each month.

If your competitors aren’t using chatbots to talk to customers yet, they’ll be using them soon enough.

Beat them to it. You can start building your own chatbot with a free chatbot builder.

15. You Believe in Meeting your Customers Where They’re At

Without question, they’re on Facebook Messenger. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, this is a no-brainer.

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How Does Influencer Marketing Work in Healthcare

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The principle behind influencer marketing is simple: If someone who is trusted or admired by many other people expresses a preference for a product or service, then others will give it a try. Marketers in a wide range of industries have long directed their efforts at celebrated individuals as a relatively inexpensive way of getting the word out about a product, especially when compared to the cost of a television ad buy. The proliferation of social media took this strategy to a whole new level, making it easy for a well-known person to convey a sponsored message instantly to thousands or millions of followers.

Sales and marketing departments at life sciences organizations have taken notice of the increasing relevance of influencer campaigns, and many want in on the action. Of course, it’s challenging to apply the same concepts to medical devices or pharmaceuticals with the strict rules in place to regulate communications and protect patient privacy. However, a clear perspective on how influencer marketing works and extensive access to physician data make it possible for businesses to guide the right people to information about medical products.

Influencer marketing in medicine

Given the restrictions on sharing information, many physicians have been reluctant to embrace social media. In the Healthlink Dimensions Annual Healthcare Professional Survey for 2018, 28.6 percent of respondents said they used social networking sites to communicate with other physicians and healthcare professionals, but few used these platforms to connect with patients or life sciences organizations. The majority, at 66 percent, said they opted out of social media altogether.

Nonetheless, influencer marketing has made headway in medical marketing in recent years. Initiating online contact with key healthcare decision-makers and thinkers is often a major step toward making sales and promoting beneficial policies. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can gain an advantage by finding clinical partners that carry weight in the medical community and forming relationships with particular physicians and executives willing to promote the brand to others.

Meanwhile, patients are flexing their own newfound clout through social media accounts. WIRED reported on people with chronic diseases who regularly post about their struggles and triumphs, including photos and popular hashtags. Healthcare startups, marketing research firms and brand strategy agencies have seized the chance to network and collaborate with these individuals.

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Hewing carefully to regulations, marketers have begun working with patient influencers in bringing attention to life sciences brands. By looking at what individuals have to say, companies gain new perspective into what it’s like living with the chronic conditions that their products treat. Such relationships have thus proven invaluable to a number of businesses and may prove a vital part of many more marketing strategies in the future.

Targeting communications to key healthcare decision-makers

While influencer marketing is a burgeoning force in the world of healthcare, life sciences organizations must still concentrate on nurturing relationships on a smaller scale. Individual physicians and administrators play vital roles in driving purchases for their facilities. With the precipitous decline of in-person access to medical professionals, marketers and salespeople have to form connections online.

Email has solidly established its place as the best means for sending information and promotions to healthcare providers. A strategic physician email marketing campaign can be the start of communications with professionals who come to champion a product or firm throughout the purchase process. Optimizing these efforts depends on gaining a clear perspective into the needs of the doctors who participate in the decisions to buy pharmaceuticals or medical devices and segmenting accordingly.

By working from up-to-date contact information, representatives reliably get through to doctors. Messages should be targeted and customized by drawing on data such as institutional affiliations and areas of specialization. Taking into account where healthcare providers work and the demographics they serve, marketers can tailor messaging to capture and hold their interest.

A deeper engagement with details like the treatments a doctor commonly employs to treat certain conditions will permit even more precise segmentation. Addressing the precise needs of physicians with a wealth of informative materials encourages them to advocate for a product all the way through a long purchase journey. Delivering quality results and nurturing relationships may persuade key individuals in health systems to wield their significant influence on the behalf of a life sciences organization.

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21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

Saving more money is one of those broad goals everyone sets for themselves at the start of a new year. But with so many tips and tricks out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to begin, especially when the temptation to buy a new pair of sneakers is always looming in the back of your head. Fear not, budget newbies! The tips below are so doable, even a shopaholic can accomplish them on a daily basis. Get ready to save some major dough.

1. Skip out on your daily skinny vanilla latte. “Sorry, Starbucks, but we’re taking a break. It’s not you, it’s me.” This one may be hard, especially if you rely on caffeine to jump-start your day, but a coffee maker is a worthy investment when you realize how much this seemingly innocent cost can add up. And if you simply can’t go your separate ways from Starbucks, try out one of its cheaper drink options.

2. Start painting your own nails. Sure, sometimes a salon mani-pedi is just what you need to unwind and treat yourself, but those visits add up. A bottle of nail polish can cost anywhere from $4 to $15 and will last you years, whereas a pedicure can cost as much as $20. The math says it all.

3. Cook your own dinner most nights. You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to prepare an enjoyable meal. There are plenty of simple dinner recipes out there that are easy on the wallet. Bonus points if you cook enough to give you leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day!

4. Speaking of lunch, make your own every day. This one’s a no-brainer, but the temptation of a fancy $10 salad often cancels it out. Sticking to this tip throughout the year will save you major bucks.

5. Discontinue your cable subscription. Unless you’re really utilizing your cable every day, it may be time to consider a more affordable online-streaming option like Netflix or Hulu.

6. Stow away a dollar a day. Invest in an adult-approved piggy bank and stash away a dollar (or your loose change at the very least, if you can’t stand to part with your precious Washingtons every day). At the end of the month, you’ll have around $30!

7. Buy a reusable water bottle and actually use it. Investing in a high-quality water bottle will save both the environment and your budget. The cost of those plastic water bottles adds up, and Mother Earth will give you a pat on the back for this one.

8. Sip on some drinks at home before hitting the bars. College students had the right idea with their beer-chugging “pregames.” Enjoying a few drinks at home ensures that you won’t fall victim to buying one too many overpriced drinks once you get to the bar or club.

9. Always remember to turn off your lights and air conditioning. Those little expenses can add up to a whopping utilities bill at the end of the month. Get in the habit of hitting the light switch every time you leave a room in your house or apartment.

10. Consider selling your random knickknacks. Though this is technically a money-making tip, the end result is still having more cash in your wallet. Set up an eBay account and finally get rid of that random dog figurine that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet.

11. Seek out discounts. Whether you become a coupon champ at the supermarket or start taking advantage of sites with heavily discounted clothes, it’s best to think twice before paying full price for something. Examine all your options before swiping your card. The website RetailMeNot is a great resource for tracking down discounts from some of your favorite stores and websites in real time. It does the legwork for you!

12. Make a shopping list before stepping foot in a store – and don’t stray from it. Precisely planning out your meals, down to the exact ingredients you need each week, is crucial for saving some green. Venture down the aisles with a written checklist of items in hand rather than aimlessly browsing your options. The same goes for when you hit the mall for clothes.

13. Speaking of groceries, try to only buy versatile staples. OK, that random exotic vegetable may look cool, but is it really worth $5? Stick to those adaptable and affordable essentials like eggs, canned beans, and pasta.

14. Roll up your sleeves and become a DIY pro. When it comes to DIY projects, the options are endless. You can make your own cleaning products, holiday gifts, and decorations. Before throwing away things like old jeans or books, consider how you can upcycle them.

15. Think twice about your transportation options. This is mostly dependent on where you live. If you reside in a car-reliant city like Los Angeles, consider carpooling to split the cost of gas. In a bustling city like New York, try walking or taking the bus or subway instead of an overpriced cab. And if you’re traveling somewhere like the airport, opting for UberPool instead of UberX is always the way to go.

16. Quit smoking. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Your wallet (and your lungs) will thank you.

17. Go for the generic brands at the store. With goods like toothpaste and soap, the generic brand is usually just about the same as the more expensive, well-known brands. We all have that one brand we’re loyal to, but is it really worth it to pay an extra $3 for body wash if the off-brand version is just as effective at getting the job done?

18. Take an inventory of your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t need. Unless you’re really reading every single page of that one magazine or constantly listening to music from that one streaming service, it may be time to nix that monthly cost.

19. Buy your home staples in bulk. Purchasing toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels – aka those pesky items we hate lugging home from the grocery store – in bulk will always pay off in the long run.

20. Suggest free activities when hanging out with friends. Those happy hours and dinner dates add up over time. Instead, research fun and free activities like doing outdoor yoga, checking out a museum with free admission, or watching the sunset.

21. Take five before making impulse buys. Ask yourself, “Is this something I want or something I really need?” Your response should reveal if it’s a worthy purchase or not, so try your best to answer honestly. And if anything, reach out to your mom or a trusty friend who will give their honest opinion about whether it’s something you should really spend money on.

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No More Banks or FICO Reports? Economist Describes Ways Blockchain Technology Will Change How We Allocate Credit

In our lifetime we will see many of the traditional banks and credit reporting systems become irrelevant as blockchain technology brings about a radical transformation of the institutional nature of our banking system – a system that is based on a centralized ledger to manage transactions, says Virginia Tech economist David Bieri.

According to Bieri, “the distributed ledger technology of the blockchain offers new ways of economic coordination and governance whereby a information flows are shared almost instantaneously across all participants in a networked system, opening the door for new possibilities such as de-nationalized currencies and a radical democratization of different forms of trust.”

Bieri is an associate professor at Virginia Tech who has also held positions in central banking across the globe.

Quoting Bieri

“The information monopoly of the three credit bureaus is rapidly being dismantled as big data and AI allow fintech companies to engineer something that is much more accurate than the FICO score, from the social media and other personal information they have on you. Several fintech companies are already basing their lending information on this. It has similar logic to FICO, but is based off of their proprietary information.”

“There is significant power in the distributed network because in order for someone to tamper with it they would need to change every copy at the same time and hack every computer separately. Because this is much harder to do than hack a central single location, it makes the data more secure.”

Background and research

Bieri is leading a collaborative research project with two of the largest blockchain-based fintech consortia, R3 and Hyperledger, to develop standards as well as examine how the banking system is reorganizing itself to embrace blockchain, the very thing that might render it obsolete. Project Information – “Disruption, Dislocation or Delusion? Fintech and the Digital Macrofoundations of the Next Global Financial Order” (David Bieri and Giselle Datz)

About Bieri

David Bieri is an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and in the department of economics at Virginia Tech. His current research examines the dynamics of financialization and its role in the process of urbanization. He also writes about regulatory aspects of international finance and global monetary governance. Previously, Bieri held positions in central banking at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland and in investment banking in London.

How Chinese Products Went From Cheap & Cheerful To Weapons In US Trade War

Tensions are escalating between China and the US over trade. The Chinese government has announced retaliatory measures on a range of American products including cars and some American agriculture products after the US listed 1,333 Chinese products to be hit by punitive tariffs of 25%.

Yet a trade war does not make economic sense for either side. Bilateral trade between the US and China was worth about US$711 billion in 2017 and Boeing’s single deal with China signed during Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in 2016 was worth about US$37 billion alone.

The jobs and livelihoods at risk are huge. So why is there no particular desire, especially from Trump, to ease the tension and find a new solution?

There has been much talk about the US trade deficit with China and allegations that China steals US intellectual property. But the answer could lie in US fears of the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative and how it signals the growing threat of China as an economic rival. That the official US Trade Representative’s recent investigation into Chinese trade practices mentioned the Made in China 2025 initiative more than 100 times, suggests this is the case.

Image problems

Made in China 2025 was launched by the Chinese government in 2015 to upgrade the country’s manufacturing capabilities. It is a plan to transform what China produces from a low-cost, labour-intensive model to advanced and smart manufacturing. Certain key industries such as aerospace, robotics and high-tech medical equipment have been prioritised. The hope is that China will gradually match developed countries’ manufacturing capabilities and become industry leaders.

A lot of the products from these key industries, such as industrial robots, aviation and aerospace equipment, new energy and power supplies and advanced rail machinery were all included in the tariff target list published by the US Trade Representative. So it would seem that the current situation is not simply a trade issue aimed to reduce America’s trade deficit with China. Instead, it is likely targeted at the future competition China will pose.

Made in China 2.0. shutterstock.com

China’s Made in China 2025 strategy makes perfect sense in my field of research, which concerns where products are manufactured and how this effects their popularity in the global market place. A strong and positive image of a country can generate what economists call “halo effects” on its products. So, Germans have built good reputations for their cars and engineering, France and Italy for their wine and fashion, and the US for their innovative products.

This worldwide reputation brings with it prestige and higher price premiums. Although there is still debate around whether brand origin could be more important than where the product is produced (Apple, for example designs its products in the US but manufactures them in China), there is no doubt that “Made in China” suffers from an image problem.

Chinese products have long been associated with a cheap and cheerful perception that they are not good in terms of quality or ingenuity. The Chinese government has long been aware of this view and keen to change it.

At the turn of the 21st century, it set up a policy called “Going Out” to encourage leading Chinese firms to expand internationally, acquire new technology and the tools to innovate. The two big examples were IT firm Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s personal computer division in 2005 and Geely automotive’s purchase of Volvo in 2010. Made in China 2025 serves the same purpose – to boost China’s technology and innovation capabilities and to improve the image of Chinese products.

Impressive growth

There is no doubt that China has come a long way since the 1990s. It has built 22,000km of advanced high speed rail network within the last decade, which is more than the rest of the world combined. It is also considered as the global leader in renewable energy and technology, patent filings, commercial drones, industrial robotics and e-commerce and mobile payments.

China is already a leader in some tech. shutterstock.com

Chinese telecommunications company Huawei typifies the transformation of Chinese products in recent years. Within the last decade, Huawei has surpassed Ericsson and Nokia to become the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier and has just overtaken Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung.

What’s more remarkable about these statistics is that Huawei has transformed itself from a cheap phone maker to an accepted premium brand that can compete with Apple and Samsung. Its latest releases the top of the range Huawei P20 Pro will retail for US$1,100 and its top end model Huawei Porsche Design Mate RS will sell for US$2,109 – even more than the iPhone X.

There is no doubt that some in the US are uncomfortable with China’s impressive growth and feel threatened by it. It suggests the current trade dispute is not just about imports and exports, but also an incumbent superpower feeling the threat of a growing challenger.

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