20
Oct
14

China Just Overtook The US As The World’s Largest Economy – Yahoo Finance

China Just Overtook The US As The World’s Largest Economy – Yahoo Finance. By Mike Bird, Business Insider, October 8, 2014

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton Sorry, America. China just overtook the US to become the world’s largest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Chris Giles at the Financial Times flagged up the change. He also alerted us in April that it was all about to happen.

Basically, the method used by the IMF adjusts for purchasing power parity, explained here.

The simple logic is that prices aren’t the same in each country: A shirt will cost you less in Shanghai than in San Francisco, so it’s not entirely reasonable to compare countries without taking this into account. Though a typical person in China earns a lot less than the typical person in the US, simply converting a Chinese salary into dollars underestimates how much purchasing power that individual, and therefore that country, might have. The Economist’s Big Mac Index is a great example of these disparities.

China_Just_Overtook_The_US-c9374c7a288bdc195dc5869e63f4bf95

So the IMF measures both GDP in market-exchange terms and in terms of purchasing power. On the purchasing-power basis, China is overtaking the US right about now and becoming the world’s biggest economy.

We’ve just gone past that crossover on the chart below, according to the IMF. By the end of 2014, China will make up 16.48% of the world’s purchasing-power adjusted GDP (or $17.632 trillion), and the US will make up just 16.28% (or $17.416 trillion):

China US economies

IMF, Google Public Data Explorer Adjusted for purchasing power, China’s economy is now the world’s largest. It’s not all sour news for the US. It’ll be some time yet until the lines cross over in raw terms, not adjusted for purchasing power. By that measure, China still sits more than $6.5 trillion lower than the US and isn’t likely to overtake for quite some time:

View gallery

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US China economies

IMF, Google Public Data Explorter But in terms of the raw market value of China’s currency, it still has a long way to go.

Editor’s comment

Well, ‘Financial Times’ is the first to proclaim that China is the number one economy in the world, however, in the next couple of years, all of the economic literature will clearly demonstrate that China is the number one economy. So, how did this happen? For the United States, the decline started in 1980 with Ronald Reagan administration. The credo for this administration is that the rich aren’t rich enough, the corporations aren’t big enough and the regular workers make too much money. The results – loss of good paying jobs to other countries especially manufacturing jobs. And, in 2014, the income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest in over a hundred years, 90% of all profits go to the top. Salaries for workers have plateaued  and, possibly, will decrease in the future (especially when taking into inflation). China’s story starts in 1990, when the Chinese government went all in on manufacturing. By 1995, by hook and by crook, they were allowed as a preferred trade partner through the World Trade Organization agreements, which meant they could charge any import tax rate on U.S. imports coming into China, while getting 0% tax placed on their products shipped into the USA. This was the floodgate that caused an immediate and irreversible decline in jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, all the while sucking money out of the U.S. economy and directly deposited into the Communist Chinese banks.

The Future

The future of the economy of the U.S. is not very rosy, especially when it continually is aiding its main competitor, China. Whereas the Chinese government is doing everything it can to encourage its economy to grow, large stimulus package during The Great Recession, huge infrastructure projects – improving freeways, bridges, airports and bullet trains and putting millions to work, the United States has done nothing (except for the minor stimulus package of 2009), and has been totally hands off, much like the Herbert Hoover administration during The Great Depression. Despite verbal commitments from the President and some Congressmen – nothing has been done. All projects to: increase jobs, raise wages, bring jobs back from foreign countries have time and time blocked by the multi-national corporations (because it is in their best financial interests). As the mid-term elections in 2014 looms, the future looks even bleaker with a good possibility that the Party of the multi-national corporations, the GOP, will become a majority in the Senate, together with their majority in the House, American jobs have never looked more vulnerable. This looks exactly as I predicted in my entry: How Did We Get To Here Part IV: Years 2014 – 2034. Remember to start collecting your Made in USA artifacts – they will be very valuable in twenty years.

14
Oct
14

Hucklebury – Premium US Made Dress Shirts

Hucklebury is a clothing brand who recently reached its Kickstater (a crowd-source funding) goal and has started delivering its product, premium dress shirts. Does its product satisfy its stated promise of a great dress shirt made in the USA for $95?

First off, does Hucklebury qualify as a premium shirt? Let us check the characteristics of the shirts. Great material – Egyptian cotton, check; Great processing of material – milling in exclusive Italian Mill, check. Quality sewing – Made in USA, Washington DC plant with extensive experience in sewing, check. Other details: Mother of pearl buttons, double stitching along the sides (instead of stays), bottom horizontal reinforced button hole, stiffer, hand-sewn, collars, and an excellent fit for an off the rack measurement (thanks to Styku technology). So, yes, the shirt definitely qualifies as a premium made in USA shirt. For what makes a great dress shirt, see my blog entry: Best Dress Shirts: USA vs the World.

Second, is a Hucklebury shirt worth $95? For some men who have never paid more than $20 or $30 for a shirt in their life, it probably isn’t worth it to them (but they might be surprised with their first ever quality shirt). But, for those who value their appearance and appreciate a good shirt, then, Hucklebury is definitely worth it. I have compared my two Hucklebury shirts with my own closet of shirts which comprises brands such as Kiton, Versace, Armani, Black Fleece, Eton, Brioni, Hickey Freeman, Burberry, Oxxford, Robert Talbott, Etro, Hamilton, Yves St. Laurent, Tom Ford, Breuer, Haupt, Brooks Brothers, and Rag and Bone (all made in Italy or the U.S. except for Eton & Burberry ). From this, I can safely conclude that the Hucklebury shirts are the equivalent of a $250 shirt (retail).

Hucklebury Made in USA

Hucklebury
Made in USA

The Story of Hucklebury

Hucklebury is the brain child of two San Francisco based. entrepreneurs, Parag Jhaveri and Dhawal Shah. Parag is an engineer, whose family was greatly involved in the fashion industry – exporting scarves and white shirts to some of the main clothing supply chains. His interest is, however, more into product development as well as manufacturing and marketing strategies. Their are obvious inefficiencies in making off the rack clothing and selling them through various department stores.  WIth Hucklebury many inefficiencies have been eliminated: No unnecessary clothing is made,  and no needless shipping to various department stores with all of their devastating mark-ups.

Co-founder of Hucklebury, Dhawal Shah, is a former computer prodigy and internet genius. This talent is of paramount importance in this modern day where on-line shopping is rapidly expanding versus the brick and mortar stores, which are decreasing. Both, Parag and Dhawal, are master marketers. This is essential in any direct to consumer product (which Hucklebury is). Their marketing strategy is interesting. They are getting the word out by targeting bloggers who are interested in fashion or made in the USA, social media, twitter, Reddit, Facebook ads, newer technologies and eventually, regular media.

The Origin of the Name Hucklebury

The name Hucklebury comes from the famous Mark Twain character, Hucklebury Finn. The founders view Hucklebury Finn as a hero that goes against the norms, persevering against the odds. I mean, look at the new path Hucklebury is creating: 1) off the rack; 2) direct to consumers; 3) a 365 day guarantee; 4) no department stores; 5) marketing through bloggers and social media; and 6) bringing back clothing manufacturing to America when other corporations within the United States, Inc., continue to outsource well paying, valuable American jobs overseas. Definitely, this is a new path.

Styku Technology

One of the biggest problems with on-line shopping for clothing is fit. A certain manufacturer’s size “Small” may be another makers “Medium”, etc. The return rate of on-line clothing purchases due to poor fit is fairly high. However, with Styku, a new technology being used by Hucklebury, has helped with getting the consumer the correct fit and, therefore, has decreased Hucklebury’s return rate by 30% compared to standard practices. The Styku technology uses measurements uses chest, waist, sleeve length and body length to help with fit. With Hucklebury, one can specify whether one would like a slim-fit appearance or a “regular” appearance.

Why Made in the USA?

For Hucklebury and co-founder, Parag, making the product in the United States was not a gimmick in order to sell shirts. Making shirts in the United States is a way to give back to the community and a way to empower poorer people especially women. Being a socially conscious company is very important to Parag – this comes from the values taught to him by his mother, who also worked in the fashion industry. In an era where corporations are responsible for terrible working conditions all over the world – causing needless tragedies like the Bangladesh factory fires and building collapse or the massive suicides over at the Apple Foxxconn plant in China, it is refreshing to see entrepreneurs that aren’t just all about the money. As the Supreme Court in the USA continues to give corporations rights as “people” and, even, giving corporations religious rights, it seems only fair that corporations (their board of directors and their activist stockholders) should go to jail for the crimes they commit against humanity (corporations are now people, aren’t they?).  Just a quick reflection about Foxxconn, in all the centuries that there have been slaves – just how bad are the conditions that the slaves actually commit suicide?

The United States has continually added jobs since the Great Recession ended, the economy is much stronger, however, people complain that wages have not come back up. This is because most of the higher paying jobs, like manufacturing have been outsourced, and many other good paying jobs have been simply eliminated in order to squeeze out more short-term profits in order to look better for The Stock Market. All the profits are going directly to the top (since 1980) and this is why there is the greatest wealth disparity in the USA since the 1920s. The only plan now to decrease wealth disparity is to increase the minimum wage because so many people are stuck in the lowest paying service jobs. And there have been no plans or laws to increase manufacturing in the U.S. that can pass Congress (the GOP is the party of big corporations and there are enough Democrats who are beholden to big corporations that future legislation looks bleak). This means the only way that the U.S. can increase manufacturing is through a grass roots effort. Buy American, put Americans to work at better paying jobs and get yourself a better quality and safe product. And vote out those outsourcing proponents.

Conclusion

The number of American made dress shirt makers is quite small. And the number that makes premium dress shirts is just a handful. Hucklebury, with its low price point, neatly fills the niche of premium USA made dress shirts. Hucklebury makes great dress shirts that should retail for $250 but sell less than $95. Hucklebury will be my “Go-to” site for dress shirts. (My other “Go-to” sites are Flint and Tinder (for underwear), Bills Khakis,  Allen Edmonds (dress shoes) and New Balance (athletic shoes)). For more about Hucklebury, check out their Facebook page. For those who would like to order shirts from Hucklebury, go to Hucklebury.com.

Below is a list of American made dress shirts from Listing of American clothing brands – retail.

Dress Shirts (Oxford Shirts)

  1. Alexander Olch
  2. Allen Edmonds
  3. American Apparel
  4. Band Of Outsiders
  5. Bills Khakis
  6. Billy Reid (few)
  7. Black Fleece
  8. Blues Jean Bar
  9. Brooks Brothers Few)
  10. Club Monaco (few)
  11. Ernest Alexander
  12. Frank & Eileen
  13. Freemans Sporting Club
  14. Gitman Brothers
  15. Gitman Brothers Vintage
  16. Hamilton
  17. Hlaska (No longer making shirts)
  18. Hickey Freeman
  19. Ike Behar (No longer made in USA)
  20. J. Press
  21. James Perse
  22. John Varvatos Star (rare)
  23. Lipson
  24. Mason’s
  25. New England Shirt Co.
  26. Ovadia & Sons
  27. Oxxford
  28. Patrick Ervell
  29. Rag & Bone
  30. Richard Chai
  31. Robert Talbott (few)
  32. Simon Spurr (no longer available)
  33. Taylor Stitch
  34. Todd Snyder (few)
  35. Thom Browne

 

Other articles about Hucklebury (From most relevant to less relevant)

Review: Hucklebury Shirts (and Giveaway) by The Silentist

Interview: Parag and Dhawal Shah of Hucklebury by Vouchmag

Introducing Hucklebury, The Newest Luxury Dress Shirt At Great Price by Crowddistrict

MSP Endorses: Hucklebury Button Down Shirts by Mens Style Pro

Product Review: Hucklebury Slim-Fit Green Stripe Shirts by The Pantalones

Product Review: Hucklebury Shirts by Simpler Man

Customer Spotlight - Hucklebury by Spree Commerce

OnLine Sizing Technology Helps Two Apparel Sellers Get off the Ground by Internet Retailer (About Styku Technology)

Hucklebury Co-Founder Parag Jhaveri Redefining Premium Menswear by FashInvest

Wide Eyes, Tight Wallet by blogspot.com

Hucklebury Shirts Kickstarter by Wefty and Mash

Hucklebury Shirts: A Great Dress Shirt Made in the USA for $78 by clothingmadeinusablog

Hucklebury Product Spotlight by 50built (a website regarding products made in the USA)

Courtesy of Hucklebury Sky Blue Orchard Gingham by This Fits

Hucklebury: A New Way To Shop For Shirts by The Manuel

On Kickstarter Now: D.C. Based Proper Socks and $70 American Made Shirts by Hucklebury by Modern Fellows

Hucklebury Shirts: Crowdsourced & Made In The USA by Network.details

Kickstarter – Dress Shirts by Hucklebury by Found in the Fifties

Hucklebury Dress Shirts by Gear Hungry

Hucklebury Shirts by Man of Many

01
Oct
14

Style Guide for Men’s Fashion | Bills Khakis

Style Guide for Men’s Fashion | Bills Khakis. In this fall edition of Bills Khakis, there is something a  little bit different in the way they present their fall collection. Instead of like most magazines which has all pants, then all shirts, etc., this edition gives you certain outfits or looks. The outfit within the picture then directs you (via direct links) to that purchasing of that part of the outfit – interesting concept. This is great if you like looking at magazines and then you find that certain outfit – and, voila – it is done in a snap.

Bills Khakis makes clothing for men. All of it is made in the USA. It is one of the most dependable places to find mens clothing made in the USA.

Bills Khaki's Fall Collection

Bills Khaki’s Fall Collection

30
Sep
14

R. Riveter – Handbags made in USA – Kickstarter

R. Riveter | American Handmade Challenge by Cameron Cruse + Lisa Bradley — Kickstarter. This is a new Kickstarter (crowdsourcing) project that, I find, is very worthwhile. It is called R. Riveter, after Rosie the Riveter, the iconic female riveter during World War II whose slogan was ” We Can Do It!” R. Riveter is a small company of military spouses who make handbags out of used military materials.

R. Riveter bag

R. Riveter bag

R. Riveter’s mission is unique – it is to employ military spouses, because if you didn’t already know this, the military moves families around all the time, the average stay at one location is 2 and a half years which makes sustainable employment very difficult. Because of this, the company is sort of movable and very flexible with its hours as the spouses often have to attend to their own children at the same time. See the above link and the video for more on this story.

At this time, R. Riveter has raised over $20,000 towards its goal of $35,000. The deadline is October 17, 2014. So, contribute and spread the word.

Tote bag

Tote bag

08
Sep
14

Death of a Great Man and the Loss of Generational Values

My father just passed away yesterday. He had a long and hard three-and-a-half year struggle with metastatic Lung Cancer. Although many people might not have considered him a “great” man, I do, and it is only recently that I have come to this conclusion. He never had an enemy, I never heard anybody say a bad thing about him – maybe that was because I was his eldest son and it is rude to talk disaparagingly about the kids’ parents in front of their kids, but still you overhear things, which I never did. He had a good number of trusted friends even though he was not all that extroverted, and he got along with all of his immediate family. When you grow up in a setting like that, you believe that all of the other families have the same loving and friendly environment – and you take it for granted. You can’t see how any family could be dysfunctional, and because of this, maybe one is less compassionate about people who live in those environments. It is the people who experience true pain who are more compassionate and empathetic to others, particularly to those also experiencing a similar situation, especially when their experience is very recent. (But as time passes, this compassion is not as strong or even disappears.) But I digress.

My father never went to college, he worked hard to help get all three of us kids to get into college (He didn’t actually pay for college, he didn’t have the money). Yet, I never heard him complain about his work, not once. One summer, I worked for his same company- the job was terribly, terribly awful – “Dirty Jobs” had nothing on me. (Of course, I didn’t do the same job, mine was outdoor manual labor), but still the place was loud, dusty and dirty. I know I couldn’t have worked in that environment, just to support my family. But then that was a different time – the sixties/seventies – it was a good time for the middle class, unions were strong, only one parent had to work (take home pay went further), loyalty for working at a company for a long time was rewarded, and company bosses were embarrassed if their salary was revealed and it was found to be too high. Then, I think about some of the other changes my father must have lived through.

My father was born in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. We, too have just survived a Depression, (by all accounts it was a Depression, but we like to use the words “The Great Recession”, because the word “Depression” spooks us (the media is afraid that people will sell off their stocks), where in the 1930s, they liked the word Depression, better than the word before it, which was “bank-run”. So, what happened in 2007-2010 “The Great Recession?” Well, millions of Americans lost their jobs, millions declared bankruptcy and some banks failed. Tragedy! But if you compare it to The Great Depression, this Great Recession was a walk in the park: 1) Millions lost their jobs – in the 1930s, no job = no food, and no ability to any pay bills, in the Great Recession (the 2000’s), loss of jobs usually meant going on unemployment and collecting money for up to three years and cutting back on Botox injections; 2) Millions declared bankruptcy – in 1930’s that meant you were turned out into the street, in the 2000s, declaring bankruptcy usually meant you could still live in your house and have shelter; or if you didn’t actually declare bankruptcy and didn’t pay your mortgage – you could still live their for many months if not longer; 3) Banks failed – in the 1930s, if the bank failed, the money you deposited there was gone forever, in the 2000s, that money is insured, and then the Federal government subsidized the other banks so they wouldn’t fail too. So, now, here we are in the post Great Recession economy, which is a growing economy, and all of  us “entitled” Americans – all we do is complain. I could see why our grandparents and parents would just like to backhand all of us complainers – but that would no longer be socially acceptable. We have survived a “mamby pamby” depression with very little pride and constitution. What happened to attributes of my father’s generation, like being forthright,steadfast, honest, and charitable? We have all become victims of the “ME-ME-ME-It’s all about ME” generation. How big of a house can I live in? Should I stand in line now for the latest IPhone? How many cheap Old Navy shirts can I collect made by actual Bangladeshi children? And should I care that we no longer have a middle class because we are sending all of our jobs overseas? Of course not, as long as we are the Baby Boom Generation – our hedonistic consumerism needs unending appeasement. The Baby Boom Generation while having all of its needs met growing up, and with its considerable potential, has been the proverbial spoiled child. The previous generations,like the one that fought in World War II was considered the Greatest generation, my father’s generation was considered the greatest generation for equality and U.S. economic stability. The Baby Boom generation should be considered the Most Disappointing Generation. And each successive generation after the Baby Boom generation has been put in an increasingly worse position to get ahead.

I love the national motto of France: Liberte, Equalite and Fraternite, meaning: Freedom, equality and Brotherhood. The Baby Boom Generation motto: what is mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine including your future.

index

 

My father’s generation was weary of big banks, the stock market and corporations. They knew the value of hard work, they knew to help their fellow man, they drew up plans to protect American jobs. They knew about brotherhood due to the hardships of the Depression and World War II. On the polar opposite is The Baby Boom Generation. It is weary of “government”, it, also, believes what is good for corporate America is good for the rest of us. They have been dead wrong. The middle class is fast approaching extinction and the income inequality is higher than anytime in US history.

When I was a teenager, I thought I knew it all, and that my Father knew nothing. “Like, when did he last go to high school? Right? His mind must be in an advanced state of atrophy, correct?” As I grew older, I found that my father was much more intelligent than I had realized. Experience, more time to put different seemingly unrelated concepts together, seeing the same patterns/plots in music, literature and entertainment, and learning why and how things are the way they are (the history) – all of these things make up “Wisdom”. This  is what he had. And this is what his generation had. But the Baby Boom generation threw it all out, everything has to be new, even if it is untested. Get rid of “protectionism”, they say. Get rid of import taxes and quotas, they say. And now it is: “Who cares about billion dollar deficits with China every month anyway?” What a bunch of fools we have been. We knew all these previous lessons, yet we dumped them. (What we need to do is to build a strong middle class, we need to stop outsourcing and we need to create more manufacturing. What is with those Washington bozos? Oh yes, that’s right, they are corporate shills, I forgot. Not only are corporations “people”, now corporations have religious rights, too. Do they feelings too? Can they sue us if we hurt their feelings? If corporations are people, why can’t we send these corporations, I mean the whole board of directors, to prison for wrongdoing? I have digressed again.)

I shall greatly miss my father and will be quite emotional at different times for a while. I will miss his kind words, his great sense of humor, his solid character, his unending love of his family and his gentle mocking: “Don’t let that ground ball roll under your dress, Jack” (To be clear I did not wear a dress when practicing baseball). I will try harder to live by being of even more sound character, and to avoid the wanton wastefulness of pure consumerism. I shall reassess my blessings which are many: good health, the best wife ever – my true soul mate, a  good paying job that I am good at and up until recently with enough time to write a blog, lucky to be living in a free country, lucky to to have lived at a time when economic advancement was still possible, lucky enough to look like I am part of the majority, lucky to be free of major disease, major illnesses or terrible accidents, lucky to have come from a great family, lucky to have great friends and co-workers and lucky enough for not having to go to war and killing someone. And I will spend some extra time contemplating the greatest blessing placed upon me – the love of family.

Dedicated to my father: Carl P. Ackerman

Dedicated to my father:
Carl P. Ackerman

01
Sep
14

Made in America Investigation: American Workers Fighting Back | Video – ABC News

Made in America Investigation: American Workers Fighting Back | Video – ABC News. ABC News: Made in America – this segment aired on August 27, 2014. This 3 minute and 42 second video is about how some counterfeit products are costing Americans companies money and ultimately their jobs. This particular segment focuses on counterfeit Rosetta Stone products which at first blush look exactly like the real thing.

The first examples in the video mention “American Mills” and “United States Sweaters” which are made in China. These products are not truly counterfeits, (unlike the Rosetta Stone example), because their labels declare  “made in China”. Are they misleading? Why, of course, they are deliberately deceiving. Is it unethical and immoral ? Yes, but isn’t a lot of corporate business that way? Is it illegal to have the American flag, or labels saying “U.S. Polo”, or “John Varvatos, USA”, or “American Mills”, but still have a label saying it is made in China? The answer is no. The business men in China and the U.S. executives who set up this deceitful type of practice are laughing at you, because you didn’t read the label. “Buyer Beware” is their motto. And there is not a whole lot you can do about it. But in cases of definite wrongdoing, one can write to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Their address is: Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580. The above link to the FTC shows the regulations regarding textiles. And here is a link to the FTC on-line complaint form.

Another place to complain or to start an investigation in to wrongdoing is, the place where David Muir went to, which is the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. This is part of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) units. They like to advertise their successes.

Remember to read the labels. If you want the real, better made American products, you must check the label. ABC News have done 150 segments of “Made in America” over the past three years – keep up the good work.

31
Aug
14

Back to School Supplies – Made in America

Martha Stewart American Made Collections on eBay. For the latest back to school supplies made in America, turn to none other than Martha Stewart. The first 18 items are the back to school supplies, the rest are various sundry products – all made in the USA. Obviously, this is not an all inclusive list.

 

 




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