August 29, 2016

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership inches closer to ratification in the U.S. and abroad, the debate surrounding free trade agreements like it has grown more intense. This video takes a look at one of the first of these tariff-eliminating multinational deals, NAFTA, and the ways that it has remained controversial.

Questions:

 

  1. Do free trade deals like NAFTA or TPP provide enough of an economic benefit to justify their potentially negative effects on the U.S. job market?
  2. How do tariffs encourage Continue reading
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As a bit of an antidote to the tragic violence and uncertainty that has dominated recent headlines, this short, fun video looks at the last producer of disco balls in the U.S. and the ways they’re struggling to stay relevant.

 

 

Questions:

  1. Why would you purchase a Kentucky-made disco ball for $125 when one produced in China runs for as little as $30? 
  1. What stage of the product life cycle does the disco ball currently fall under?

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March 14, 2016

In 2005 the website Etsy launched as an online marketplace where artisans across the country could sell their wares. The Brooklyn-based company quickly established itself as a destination for handcrafted items that shoppers wouldn’t find in any stores. As the years progressed Etsy’s army of craft sellers grew into the thousands, with women accounting for a whopping 85 percent of them. The company marked a major milestone in 2012 when it became a certified benefit corporation. By 2015 Etsy’s stock Continue reading

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March 2, 2016

For decades China’s industrial economy grew at a breakneck pace thanks to heavy investment from the state. This expansive age may be at an end, however. Over the last few years, demand for Chinese goods has dropped and its stock market has become increasingly unpredictable. Analysts say that China built up far too much manufacturing infrastructure that has now become an excessive drain on resources. As a result, last week the Chinese government announced the drastic measures it would take Continue reading

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February 19, 2016

For years manufacturers around the world have taken advantage of the efficiency and speed of robotic labor. But these mechanical monstrosities aren’t polite or funny like the droids in a Star Wars movie. Instead, industrial robots are big, clunky pieces of equipment that have no regard for humans. As a result, most factories have separate rooms for robots that people are prohibited from entering. Many countries have even passed laws requiring the separation of automated and human labor. After all, Continue reading

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February 1, 2016

For many inventors, creating a machine that’s functional as well as popular can feel like striking gold, even if the actual material reward for their work isn’t exactly golden. That’s the situation Shane Chen found himself in since inventing the “hoverboard,” a two-wheeled, Segway-like vehicle that doesn’t quite float but has nevertheless been flying off the shelves. Unfortunately for Chen, many consumers are buying hoverboards from companies that have not paid him for his patented design. Instead, consumers are taking Continue reading

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January 19, 2016

Although vinyl records sales are higher than they have been in decades, companies are having trouble meeting demand due to their reliance on old, antiquated machinery.

https://youtu.be/mHJQJbrvOd0

Questions:

  1. Will demand for vinyl records drop if companies fail to maintain a steady supply?
  2. With music and movie streaming sites now commonplace, do vinyl records and other forms of physical media have a long term future?

 

From The New York Times

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June 17, 2015

In the 1960s Northeast Italy’s artisans banded together to form small family-owned businesses that depended closely on one other. Each company manufactured a single part of a finished product that held the entire town’s attention. For instance, the tiny burg of Montebelluna specialized in making ski boots, with dozens of companies contributing parts like buckles and foam linings. The town eventually became famous for its high quality footwear, producing about three-quarters of the world’s ski boots at its height. One Continue reading

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In an earlier issue of the newsletter, we took a look at the methods that Chinese authorities use to curb the production of counterfeit merchandise. For the most part, these measures focused on reporting knockoffs of big names like Nike and Gucci. But combating pirated products isn’t solely the problem of multinational brands. For instance, in 2012 Jeff Sasaki took his iPhone accessory company Element Case to a Hong Kong trade show. When he arrived at the convention, he found Continue reading

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April 26, 2015

As the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, Hershey is always reshaping the way it does business in order to remain at the top. Technology especially helps the Pennsylvania-based company improve in a number of key areas. For instance, the prevalence of online shopping and self-checkout lines are hurting Hershey’s sales from impulse buyers. To encourage more “unplanned purchases,” the company plans to add small kiosks near self-checkout machines and curbside pickup stations that will give customers one last chance Continue reading

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