Friday, October 22, 2021

Supply-Chain Crisis Fuels Latest Retreat From Globalization

Nothing embodied the promise of globalization more than the humble supply chain. Thanks to the integration of production across and within borders, consumers have come to expect infinite variety, instantly available.

That is now under siege. The supply-chain crisis of 2021 is fueling the retreat from globalization, much as the global financial crisis of 2008 did.

Three big forces are driving this latest crisis: Covid-19, climate and geopolitics. All have played a part in the semiconductor shortage that has crippled automotive production world-wide. Covid-19-driven demand for consumer electronics diverted chips from car makers, and virus-control measures interrupted production in Malaysia. Extreme weather idled chip factories in Texas and threatened to do the same in Taiwan. And U.S. tariffs and export bans ran down chip inventories in the U.S. while prompting hoarding by Chinese buyers, according to Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Those forces also contributed to Britain’s energy crisis. Covid-19 and Brexit reduced the number of truckers available to deliver fuel while a lack of wind reduced renewable power at a time when natural-gas reserves were low. China’s economy has been tripped up by shutdowns intended to stamp out all Covid-19 outbreaks or meet carbon reduction goals, and coal shortages were aggravated by a punitive ban on imports from Australia for demanding an inquiry into Covid-19’s origins.

Two decades ago, investors and bankers took for granted that credit would always be available at some price and built entire businesses around that premise. The result was a tightly interconnected financial system with no margin for error that seized up in the face of a shock.

Similarly, the supply-chain crisis was made possible by how integrated and efficient global production had become. Businesses adopted outsourcing and offshoring, just-in-time inventories, and “capital-light” models that split design from production. The share of world trade accounted for by global value chains—in which a product crosses at least two borders—rose from 37% in 1970 to 52% in 2008, where it plateaued, according to the World Bank.

Today, companies and governments are waking up to the risks of dependence on far-flung suppliers and the absence of shock absorbers in vital links, from seaborne freight to electricity transmission. For example, there are more than 50 points in the global semiconductor supply chain ”where one region holds more than 65% of the global market share,” according to a report by Boston Consulting Group and the Semiconductor Industry Association. “These are potential single points of failure that could be disrupted by natural disasters, infrastructure shutdowns, or international conflicts.”

Covid-19 is the biggest shock to this system, shutting down production, closing borders and driving workers out of the labor force. A mutating virus, resistance to vaccine mandates and China’s zero-Covid-19 policy all mean Covid-19 remains a threat to the supply chain. But it should recede as natural immunity and vaccination reduce the virus’s lethality and governments outside China conclude restrictions and border closures are too costly a response to outbreaks.

Climate risks are likely to grow, because of both more frequent extreme weather and the transition to renewable energy, which lacks the capacity buffers of fossil fuels. The oil market is global: Supply in one place can meet demand in another. While oil’s price can gyrate, supply almost never disappears thanks to spare OPEC capacity, private inventories and government-maintained emergency reserves. Though less mobile than oil, natural gas can still be stored and, increasingly, exported in liquid form.

By contrast, solar and wind energy are generally consumed as they are generated, and can disappear altogether if wind or sun are absent. “No clean energy OPEC currently holds spare renewable energy capacity in reserve,” notes Kevin Book, research director of advisory ClearView Energy Partners LLC, in a recent report. This can only be solved through investment in transmission and battery storage, which lags far behind investment in generation, the International Energy Agency indicated last week, even as investment in fossil fuels flattens. “Something has to change quickly or global energy markets face a turbulent period ahead,” it warned.

Protectionism has been intruding on supply chains at least since 2008 when the Doha round of global trade talks collapsed. The U.S.-China trade war took those frictions to a new level. In its wake, the U.S., China and Europe are all pursuing self-sufficiency in key sectors such as semiconductors and batteries. Other threats loom, such as green tariffs on high-carbon imports.

Meanwhile, arbitrary import bans and detentions are now routine parts of China’s foreign-policy tool kit, as export controls are part of the U.S.’s. Former President Donald Trump’s regular threat of sanctions and tariffs to further domestic goals ended when he left office, but companies and trading partners must plan for his possible return in a few years.

Not all the pressures on supply chains are against globalization. Technology continues to increase the potential to outsource, especially in services. Nonetheless companies are likely to revisit practices they once took for granted such as holding minimal inventories and sourcing key components from politically risky places. In a report this week, Bank of America equity strategists found companies in the S&P 500 index had 2% more manufacturing locations in the U.S. in 2000 compared with 2018, but 5% fewer in Asia.

Just as the financial crisis drove banks and regulators to prioritize resilience over efficiency, the supply-chain crisis will likely result in production networks more resilient to surprises but less able to delight consumers with ever more choice at ever lower cost.


'Free Speech' Media Allies with Transgender Tyranny

The left claims that their most urgent battle is to save democracy, but when it comes to any questioning of the LGBT lobby, they are the ones who sound like authoritarians. The overtones are unmistakable in the "news" coverage promoting "dozens" of employees walking out of Netflix in Los Angeles on Oct. 20 in protest. The target? A popular Dave Chappelle comedy special, "The Closer."

Tens of thousands of anti-abortion advocates can assemble and be ignored, but assemble two dozen transgender lobbyists and NBC and PBS will treat it as momentous.

Take NBC's story. Anchor Lester Holt began: "A battle raging inside Netflix for weeks boiled over today. Employees staging a walkout in terms of the streamer's latest Dave Chappelle special in which the comedian mocks transgender people."

Reporter Steve Patterson began: "Tonight, Netflix employees walking out of the company's Hollywood office after weeks of internal backlash." They didn't specify a number of protesters. But the story had all sound bites from one side: the LGBT side. That's unless you count them reading a quote from Netflix CEO/Obama money man Ted Sarandos apologizing profusely for "screwing up" with the outraged radical employees.

NBC featured two angry trans activist sound bites and two sound bites of openly gay Variety "reporter" Matt Donnelly, who acted more like a spokesman for the protesters. He said Sarandos originally "did not feel it was hate speech, which went down incredibly badly with Netflix's trans and LGBTQ-plus employees." NBC noted the in-house protesters made a list of demands, and Donnelly added, "I think that Netflix is going to have to put its money where its mouth is. This specific bloc of employees are galvanized to continue to hold them accountable."

For what? NBC's stilted story failed to offer one clip or quote or explanation of what Chappelle said that was offensive. We can guess it's because the comedian said "gender is a fact," and, "Every human being on Earth had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact." Is that somehow too horrific for NBC to include?

NBC also shamelessly failed to report that there were counterprotesters sticking up for Chappelle right there at this walkout. In the video, you can briefly see a protester holding up a "Jokes Are Funny" sign, but otherwise, NBC couldn't offer one hint of dissent.

Over on the "PBS NewsHour," anchor Amna Nawaz displayed the taxpayer-funded network's allegiances by putting on trans woman Imara Jones of TransLash Media. No debate allowed. Nawaz attempted one question about free speech in comedy. "They just say comedy is supposed to be provocative. Shouldn't there be a space for that?"

Jones fiercely said there's no space for that. "Well, it's also supposed to be intelligent. And there's nothing intelligent about mocking trans people. There's nothing interesting or provocative about mocking trans people." She argued Chappelle offered "essentially hate speech disguised as jokes."

So, stating that human babies come out of women is "hate speech."

Right before her comedy question, Nawaz assisted Jones by offering gay-lobby estimates. "The data does speak volumes here. According to Human Rights Campaign, 2021 is set to be the most violent year on record for transgender and gender-nonconforming people." Make a joke and you're responsible for murder?

Jones concluded, "Netflix may become a stigma brand. That is to say, it may no longer be a place where you're proud to say that you work... Netflix could be in real trouble." And so our "free speech" media offers themselves as eager allies with trans tyranny over what kind of speech can be allowed.


Royal Opera House to review classic works as it makes overture to Black Lives Matter

For centuries the spectacle of opera has transported audiences from Mozart’s Ottoman seraglios to Bizet’s Spanish bullrings.

But the Royal Opera House has now pledged to reexamine classic works to make sure future performances account for “cultural sensitivities”.

Operas in the repertoire will be assessed to ensure that they are “suitable” for modern audiences as part of a raft of reforms drafted in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

The staging, casting, and costumes of classic works will all be reviewed as the Royal Opera House (ROH) seeks to address what it has branded its own “flawed” history.

The home to both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet is now “taking a fresh look at much of our repertory, including productions which engage with different cultures historically”.

The ROH said: “Our repertory contains a raft of work both contemporary and historical.

“To ensure we present these stories in a way that is suitable and enjoyable for modern audiences, both our artistic companies consult widely to ensure that the Royal Opera House takes account of all cultural sensitivities in its staging, casting and presentation of much-loved historic works.”

Productions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Verdi’s Aida by companies around the world have been criticized in the past for casting white performers in the roles of the Japanese geisha and Ethiopian princess respectively.

At present, the ROH does not require performers to share the ethnicity of the character they play, but the organisation has said in an “anti-racism pledge” that it will “further debate this approach with staff, artists and experts in the field”.

Currently, the ROH does “not use make-up to suggest or to mask ethnicity”.

The ROH has also pledged to ensure “culturally sensitive costuming, wigs, and make-up” by providing costumes and make-up suitable for performers from a range of backgrounds.

Black ballet dancers have long pointed out that traditional pink ballet shoes are made to match the skin of white dancers.

The visual staging of classic operas is also set to be reviewed, with the ROH pledging to extend diversity to production design.

The work is part of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy first announced in May 2021, one year after the organisation pledged to take action in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

Introducing its plans, the ROH said: “It is important to recognise that our history is flawed and our record on diversity has been inconsistent.”

It is stated in the plan that the ROH, which has this week announced a programme to celebrate Black History Month, will work to “ensure our future artistic programming and other activities are rooted in cultural authenticity”.

Operas which could be reviewed© Provided by The Telegraph Operas which could be reviewed
For those behind the scenes, the ROH has also confirmed that it has now successfully rolled out compulsory anti-racism training for managers.

A spokesman for the ROH said that: “Since we implemented our new strategy in May 2021, equality, diversity and inclusion is now firmly prioritised as a leading pillar of work across all parts of the organisation.

“Compulsory anti-racism training has been rolled out for all managers.

“The anti-racism training… is focused on individuals’ experiences, resulting in practical actions.”

Other policies outlined in its strategy include “a target of at least 30 roles per season being taken by ethnically diverse singers and at least three to four of these lead or title roles,” in a bid to improve diversity in opera and ballet.


Ten-year-old black schoolgirl arrested over ‘upsetting’ drawing

The Hawaii ACLU is demanding change from the state Department of Education and HPD following the arrest of a 10-year-old girl last year.

The incident happened last January at Honowai Elementary School in Waipahu.

The ACLU and an attorney for the family says the 10-year-old girl’s rights were violated when she was detained and questioned without her mom.

She was then handcuffed and brought to jail without being charged with a crime, the ACLU said.

“That’s just straight up wrong,” said ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Wookie Kim. “And there’s nothing that condones or justifies that.”

In a letter to the DOE and HPD, the ACLU said the girl identified as “N.B.” — who has ADHD — participated in drawing an offensive sketch of another student in response to being bullied.

“The next day, a parent of one of the kids who received this drawing, was very upset and essentially demanded that they call the police,” said attorney Mateo Caballero, who is representing the student and her mother.

Hawaii News Now asked to see the drawing, but was denied.

“We don’t want it to be about the drawing,” said Cabellero. “This is about a 10-year-old Black girl who was arrested and there was no reason to believe that she was violent.”

“She didn’t bring any any weapons to school, she didn’t make any explicit threats to anyone.”

The ACLU said the school also detained the student’s mother, Tamara Taylor, in a room and would not let her see her daughter.

Taylor said officers told her that they were negotiating with a parent about the matter involving her daughter, and that she wasn’t allowed to speak with her.

“N.B. should have been allowed to be with her parent who was sequestered in another room in the same school at that very time as police officers were interrogating 10-year-old N.B.,” said Kim.

A few days after the incident, Taylor delivered a grievance letter to the school and Leeward District Complex Area Superintendent Keith Hui, which stated in part:

“Although I was at Honowai Elementary, I was not told that my daughter was removed from the premises, handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car and taken away.”

“I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor. There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth. My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I’m disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever.”

N.B. was released to her mother at the Pearl City Police Station.

“The HPD followed the proper protocol, but we must remember that the DOE is the complainant in this situation,” said retired federal agent Tommy Aiu. “They’re the ones that called HPD.”

“HPD must act on the complaint levied by the school and that’s why the child was taken into technical custody to the station then released to her parents.”




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