Making Value: Integrating Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation to Thrive in the Changing Global Economy
Source: National Academy of Engineering
Manufacturing is in a period of dramatic transformation. But in the United States, public and political dialogue is simplistically focused almost entirely on the movement of certain manufacturing jobs overseas to low-wage countries. The true picture is much more complicated, and also more positive, than this dialogue implies.
After years of despair, many observers of US manufacturing are now more optimistic. A recent uptick in manufacturing employment and output in the United States is one factor they cite, but the main reasons for optimism are much more fundamental. Manufacturing is changing in ways that may favor American ingenuity. Rapidly advancing technologies in areas such as biomanufacturing, robotics, smart sensors, cloud-based computing, and nanotechnology have transformed not only the factory floor but also the way products are invented and designed, putting a premium on continual innovation and highly skilled workers. A shift in manufacturing toward smaller runs and custom-designed products is favoring agile and adaptable workplaces, business models, and employees, all of which have become a specialty in the United States. Future manufacturing will involve a global supply web, but the United States has a potentially great advantage because of our tight connections among innovations, design, and manufacturing and also our ability to integrate products and services.
The National Academy of Engineering has been concerned about the issues surrounding manufacturing and is excited by the prospect of dramatic change. On June 11-12, 2012, it hosted a workshop in Washington, DC, to discuss the new world of manufacturing and how to position the United States to thrive in this world. The workshop steering committee focused on two particular goals. First, presenters and participants were to examine not just manufacturing but the broad array of activities that are inherently associated with manufacturing, including innovation and design. Second, the committee wanted to focus not just on making things but on making value, since value is the quality that will underlie high-paying jobs in America’s future. Making Value: Integrating Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation to Thrive in the Changing Global Economy summarizes the workshop and the topics discussed by participants.
Regional Analysis Brief: South China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration
The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the South, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the East and the Chinese mainland to the West. Evidence pointing to potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits has made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.
The sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Xihu/Okinawa (Chinese name/Japanese name) trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between the two countries. The disputed eight Daioyu/Senkaku (Chinese/Japanese name) islands lie to the northeast of Taiwan, with the largest of them two miles long and less than a mile wide. Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as ownership can be used to bolster claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. To date, China and Japan have not resolved their ownership dispute, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of East China Sea hydrocarbons.
Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China’s Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa’s Potential Underappreciated
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The explosive growth of China’s economic interests in Africa—bilateral trade rocketed from $1 billion in 1990 to $150 billion in 2011—may be the most important trend in the continent’s foreign relations since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trading partner; its quest to build a strategic partnership with Africa on own its terms through tied aid, trade, and development finance is also part of Beijing’s broader aspirations to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Africa and other emerging economies have become attractive partners for China not only for natural resources, but as growing markets. Africa’s rapid growth since 2000 has not just occurred because of higher commodity prices, but more importantly due to other factors including improved governance, economic reforms, and an expanding labor force. China’s rapid and successful expansion in Africa is due to multiple factors, including economic diplomacy that is clearly superior to that of the United States. China’s “no strings attached” approach to development, however, risks undoing decades of Western efforts to promote good governance. Consequently, this monograph examines China’s oil diplomacy, equity investments in strategic minerals, and food policy toward Africa. The official U.S. rhetoric is that China’s rise in Africa should not be seen as a zero-sum game, but areas where real U.S.-China cooperation can help Africa remain elusive, mainly because of Beijing’s hyper-mistrust of Washington. The United States could help itself, and Africa, by improving its own economic diplomacy and adequately funding its own soft-power efforts.
Lower-income households represent a high growth opportunity sector for retailers and manufacturers. Over the next ten years, more people will move into the lower-income group, which is expected to grow twice as fast as total households. Over the next ten years, the total number of households in the U.S. is expected to grow by eight percent; however, households closer to the poverty level will grow twice as fast, at 17 percent. To better understand consumers across the economic spectrum, Nielsen conducted an analysis of media usage and purchasing behaviors. Results revealed dramatic differences in the media consumption patterns and delivery platforms across income levels. The same differential was found in CPG shopping behavior, alongside notable similarities in some categories.
Evaluation of Consumer Understanding of Different Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels, 2010–2011
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease
Governments throughout the world are using or considering various front-of-package (FOP) food labeling systems to provide nutrition information to consumers. Our web-based study tested consumer understanding of different FOP labeling systems.
Adult participants (N = 480) were randomized to 1 of 5 groups to evaluate FOP labels: 1) no label; 2) multiple traffic light (MTL); 3) MTL plus daily caloric requirement icon (MTL+caloric intake); 4) traffic light with specific nutrients to limit based on food category (TL+SNL); or 5) the Choices logo. Total percentage correct quiz scores were created reflecting participants’ ability to select the healthier of 2 foods and estimate amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium in foods. Participants also rated products on taste, healthfulness, and how likely they were to purchase the product. Quiz scores and product perceptions were compared with 1-way analysis of variance followed by post-hoc Tukey tests.
The MTL+caloric intake group (mean [standard deviation], 73.3% [6.9%]) and Choices group (72.5% [13.2%]) significantly outperformed the no label group (67.8% [10.3%]) and the TL+SNL group (65.8% [7.3%]) in selecting the more healthful product on the healthier product quiz. The MTL and MTL+caloric intake groups achieved average scores of more than 90% on the saturated fat, sugar, and sodium quizzes, which were significantly better than the no label and Choices group average scores, which were between 34% and 47%.
An MTL+caloric intake label and the Choices symbol hold promise as FOP labeling systems and require further testing in different environments and population subgroups.
Country Analysis Brief: Russia
Source: Energy Information Administration
Russia is a major producer and exporter of oil and natural gas and its economy largely depends on energy exports. Russia’s economic growth continues to be driven by energy exports given its high oil and gas production and the elevated prices for those commodities. Internally, Russia gets over half of its domestic energy needs from natural gas.
Russia was the world’s second-largest producer of oil (after Saudi Arabia) and the second-largest producer of natural gas in 2011 (second to the United States). However, preliminary data through June 2012 indicate that Russia had surpassed Saudi Arabia as the top oil producer for much of the year.
Russia’s oil and gas sector continues to be affected by high taxes and export duties. While export duties for crude oil and petroleum products were lowered to 60 and 65 percent, respectively, in 2011, producers still face high mineral extraction taxes and a revenue-based tax system.
Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan
Source: Energy Information Administration
With total liquids production estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, Kazakhstan is a major producer; however, key to its continued growth in liquids production will be the development of its giant Tengiz, Karachaganak, and Kashagan fields. Furthermore, development of additional export capacity will be necessary for production growth.
Rising natural gas production over the last decade has transformed Kazakhstan from a net gas importer to a country that as of 2011 was self-sufficient. Natural gas development has lagged oil due to the lack of domestic gas pipeline infrastructure linking the western producing region with the eastern industrial region, as well as the lack of export pipelines.
Kazakhstan is land-locked and lies a great distance from international oil markets. The lack of access to a seaport makes the country dependent mainly on pipelines to transport its hydrocarbons to world markets. It is also a transit state for pipeline exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Neighbors China and Russia are key economic partners, providing sources of export demand and government project financing.
Source: Energy Information Administration
Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and is an especially significant producer of conventional and unconventional oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity. It stands out as the largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States, its southern neighbor and one of the world’s largest consumers of energy. Just as the United States depends on Canada for much of its energy needs, so is Canada profoundly dependent on the United States as an export market. However, economic and political considerations are leading Canada to consider ways to diversify its trading partners, especially by expanding ties with emerging markets in Asia.
Canada’s large territory is endowed with an exceptionally rich and varied set of natural resources, which enables it to rank among the five largest energy producers in the world. It produced an estimated 18.2 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of primary energy in 2009, relative to 13.0 quadrillion Btu of primary energy consumed. Its economy is relatively energy-intensive when compared to other industrialized countries, and is largely fueled by petroleum for transportation purposes, natural gas, and hydroelectricity.
The Short Stories of Playboy and the Crisis of Masculinity (PDF)
Source: Utrecht University
We look at the world through media. They bring us the news; they bring us entertainment, science, art. They influence the way we view the world. In a way, they influence who we are. This does not mean that they change a person from one day to the next, but they co-determine structures of thought. One specific area in which the role of media becomes clear is gender – perhaps best described as the culturally defined and self-defined aspects of one’s identity relating to being a ‘man,’ a ‘woman,’ or perhaps something else. Different media propagate ideal images of what it means to be a man or a woman, and in our daily lives these ideal images are not often questioned.
This observation lies at the foundation of this thesis. My initial plan was to examine the ways in which media (re-)present gender identity. In particular, I wanted to examine male gender identity. The first ensuing issue was that as a historian, the historicity of gender and media needs to be acknowledged. In other words, media and masculinities are fluid and change over time. The second issue was that ‘media’ was too wide a category. Since this thesis is of a limited scope, I needed to demarcate the research further.
Ultimately, I chose one case-study of a magazine in a specific historical context: Playboy in 1950s America. The American 1950s were interesting given the subject, since a lot of literature discusses some sort of perceived ‘crisis of masculinity’ – it was a time where historical developments caused tensions with contemporary male identities that required a re-thinking of masculinity. Playboy was perhaps one of the most iconic examples of this re-thinking. The magazine offered a specific masculine identity that reacted to the contemporary gender identity crisis.
In a way, a magazine is a patchwork: It consists of differing elements, from articles to pictorials to advertisements. In order to explore male identity in the magazine in more detail, I chose to highlight one element: short stories. One of the features in Playboy that appeared from its start in December 1953 were short works of fiction. Moreover, these appeared on a highly regular basis. Therefore, the short stories made for an ample amount of source material.
The goal of this thesis is thus to answer the following research question: “How do the short stories in Playboy Magazine (re-)present a male identity in the context of the American 1950s?”
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Biosurveillance: DHS Should Reevaluate Mission Need and Alternatives before Proceeding with BioWatch Generation-3 Acquisition. GAO-12-810, September 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648025.pdf
2. Securities Investor Protection Corporation: Customer Outcomes in the Madoff Liquidation Proceeding. GAO-12-991, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648238.pdf
3. Public Financial Management: Improvements Needed in USAID’s and Treasury’s Monitoring and Evaluation Efforts. GAO-12-920, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648222.pdf
4. Slot-Controlled Airports: FAA’s Rules Could Be Improved to Enhance Competition and Use of Available Capacity. GAO-12-902, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648218.pdf
5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Commerce Program Has Helped Manufacturing and Services Firms, but Measures, Data, and Funding Formula Could Improve. GAO-12-930, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648212.pdf
Trade Adjustment Assistance: Results of GAO’s Survey of Participant Firms in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program (GAO-12-935SP, September 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-930. GAO-12-935SP, September 13.
7. Industrial Base: U.S. Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Manufacturers Face Period of Uncertainty as DOD Purchases Decline and Foreign Sales Potential Remains Unknown. GAO-12-859, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648266.pdf
8. Community Banks and Credit Unions: Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act Depends Largely on Future Rule Makings. GAO-12-881, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648209.pdf
9. Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996: Status of Treasury’s Centralized Efforts to Collect Delinquent Federal Nontax Debt. GAO-12-870R, September 13.
10. Financial Stability: New Council and Research Office Should Strengthen the Accountability and Transparency of Their Decisions. GAO-12-886, September 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648065.pdf
1. Spectrum Management: Federal Government’s Use of Spectrum and Preliminary Information on Spectrum Sharing, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-1018T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648205.pdf
2. Biosurveillance: Observations on BioWatch Generation-3 and Other Federal Efforts, by William O. Jenkins, Jr., director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittees on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Homeland Security Committee. GAO-12-994T, September 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648267.pdf
The Cross-Platform Report: How and Where Content is Watched
According to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, Americans spend nearly 35 hours per week watching video across screens, and close to another five hours using the Internet on a computer. Consumers are not turning off their devices, and there is no doubt that they are faced with more choices in terms of how they watch video content. Shifts in the distribution of time spent across all screens and devices demonstrate that more consumers are taking advantage of their increased ability to determine what, how and where they view content.
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Source: International Monetary Fund
We study the cyclical properties of sales, regular price changes and average prices paid by consumers ("effective" prices) in a dataset containing prices and quantities sold for numerous retailers across a variety of U.S. metropolitan areas. Both the frequency and size of sales fall when local unemployment rates rise and yet the inflation rate for effective prices paid by consumers declines significantly with higher unemployment. This discrepancy can be reconciled by consumers reallocating their expenditures across retailers, a feature of the data which we document and quantify. We propose a simple model with household shopping effort and store-switching consistent with these stylized facts and document its implications for business cycles and policymakers.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
High winds, especially when combined with precipitation from seasonal storms, can cause damage to electricity utility systems, resulting in service interruptions to large numbers of electricity customers. While most such power outages are caused by damage from trees and tree limbs falling on local electricity distribution lines and poles, major power outages tend to be caused by damage to electricity transmission lines which carry bulk power long distances. Depending on the severity of the storm and resulting impairment, power outages can last a few hours or extend to periods of several days, and have real economic effects. Power outages can impact businesses (primarily through lost orders and damage to perishable goods and inventories), and manufacturers (mainly through downtime and lost production, or equipment damage). Data from various studies lead to cost estimates from storm-related outages to the U.S. economy at between $20 billion and $55 billion annually. Data also suggest the trend of outages from weather-related events is increasing.
Suggested solutions for reducing impacts from weather-related outages include improved treetrimming schedules to keep rights-of-way clear, placing distribution and some transmission lines underground, implementing Smart Grid improvements to enhance power system operations and control, inclusion of more distributed generation, and changing utility maintenance practices and metrics to focus on power system reliability. However, most of these potential solutions come with high costs which must be balanced against the perceived benefits.
A number of options exist for Congress to consider which could help reduce storm-related outages. These range from improving the quality of data on storm-related outages, to a greater strategic investment in the U.S. electricity grid. Congress could empower a federal agency to develop standards for the consistent reporting of power outage data. While responsibility for the reliability of the bulk electric system is under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (as per the Energy Policy Act of 2005), no central responsibility exists for the reliability of distribution systems. One possible option could be to bring distribution systems under the Electric Reliability Organization for reliability purposes. Recovery after storm-related outages might be enhanced by a federal role in formalizing the review or coordination of electric utility mutual assistance agreements (MAAs). This would not necessarily mean federal approval of MAAs, but may help in the cooperative coordination of additional federal and state resources, especially in a wide, multi-state weather event. While there has been much discussion of transmission system inadequacies and inefficiencies, many distribution systems are in dire need of upgrades or repairs. The cost of upgrading the U.S. grid to meet future uses is expected to be high, with the American Society of Civil Engineers estimating a need of $673 billion by 2020. While the federal government recently made funding available of almost $16 billion for specific Smart Grid projects and new transmission lines under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there has not been a comprehensive effort to study the needs, set goals, and provide targeted funding for modernization of the U.S. grid as part of a long-term national energy strategy. Such an effort would also require decisions about the appropriate roles of government and the private sector.
Power delivery systems are most vulnerable to storms and extreme weather events. Improving the overall condition and efficiency of the power delivery system can only serve to improve the resiliency of the system, and help hasten recovery from weather-related outages. Ultimately, however, electric utilities are responsible for this infrastructure. They are in the business of selling electricity, and they cannot sell electricity if their power delivery systems are out of service.
Country Analysis Brief: China
Source> Energy Information Administration
China is the world’s most populous country and has a rapidly growing economy, which has driven the country’s high overall energy demand and the quest for securing energy resources. According to the International Monetary Fund, China’s real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an estimated 9.2 percent in 2011 and 7.8 percent in the first half of 2012, after registering an average growth rate of 10 percent between 2000 and 2011. Economic growth continues to slow in 2012 as the global financial crises unfolds, industrial production and exports decrease, and the government attempts to curb economic inflation and excessive investment in some markets. China mitigated the 2008 global financial crisis with a massive $586 billion (4 trillion yuan) stimulus package spread over two years. The recent global downturn in 2012 has spurred China’s government to begin incremental monetary easing measures and consider a second smaller fiscal stimulus package.
China is the world’s second largest oil consumer behind the United States, and the largest global energy consumer, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The country was a net oil exporter until the early 1990s and became the world’s second largest net importer of oil in 2009. China’s oil consumption growth accounted for half of the world’s oil consumption growth in 2011. Natural gas usage in China has also increased rapidly in recent years, and China has looked to raise natural gas imports via pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG). China is also the world’s largest top coal producer and consumer and accounted for about half of the global coal consumption, an important factor in world energy-related CO2 emissions.
Coal supplied the vast majority (70 percent) of China’s total energy consumption of 90 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2009. Oil is the second-largest source, accounting for 19 percent of the country’s total energy consumption. While China has made an effort to diversify its energy supplies, hydroelectric sources (6 percent), natural gas (4 percent), nuclear power (1 percent), and other renewables (0.3 percent) account for relatively small shares of China’s energy consumption mix. The Chinese government set a target to raise non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 11.4 percent of the energy mix by 2015 as part of its new 12th Five Year Plan. EIA projects coal’s share of the total energy mix to fall to 59 percent by 2035 due to anticipated higher energy efficiencies and China’s goal to reduce its carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP). However, absolute coal consumption is expected to double over this period, reflecting the large growth in total energy consumption.
Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Background: The health benefits of organic foods are unclear.
Purpose: To review evidence comparing the health effects of organic and conventional foods.
Data Sources: MEDLINE (January 1966 to May 2011), EMBASE, CAB Direct, Agricola, TOXNET, Cochrane Library (January 1966 to May 2009), and bibliographies of retrieved articles.
Study Selection: English-language reports of comparisons of organically and conventionally grown food or of populations consuming these foods.
Data Extraction: 2 independent investigators extracted data on methods, health outcomes, and nutrient and contaminant levels.
Data Synthesis: 17 studies in humans and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in foods met inclusion criteria. Only 3 of the human studies examined clinical outcomes, finding no significant differences between populations by food type for allergic outcomes (eczema, wheeze, atopic sensitization) or symptomatic Campylobacter infection. Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets, but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum, urine, breast milk, and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences. All estimates of differences in nutrient and contaminant levels in foods were highly heterogeneous except for the estimate for phosphorus; phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce, although this difference is not clinically significant. The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce (risk difference, 30% [CI, −37% to −23%]), but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small. Escherichia coli contamination risk did not differ between organic and conventional produce. Bacterial contamination of retail chicken and pork was common but unrelated to farming method. However, the risk for isolating bacteria resistant to 3 or more antibiotics was higher in conventional than in organic chicken and pork (risk difference, 33% [CI, 21% to 45%]).
Limitation: Studies were heterogeneous and limited in number, and publication bias may be present.
Conclusion: The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Eight-five percent of respondents to a Nielsen global online survey say that rising food prices are impacting their choice of grocery purchases, with more than half (52%) stating higher prices are a major influence. But price is not the only consideration that weighs heavily on the minds of consumers when shopping for groceries. Health factors, product availability and in-store services are also important considerations.New findings from a Nielsen online survey of respondents from 56 countries around the world provide insights into how 16 various factors have impacted grocery purchases in the last year. Manufacturers and retailers armed with this knowledge can fine-tune strategies to better align with what matters most to consumers—and what does not.
Free registration required to download full report.
Country Analysis Brief: Norway
Source: Energy Information Administration
+ Norway is Europe’s largest oil producer, the world’s second largest natural gas exporter, and is an important supplier of both oil and natural gas to other European countries.
+ Norway is the largest oil producer and exporter in Western Europe.
+ Norway is the second largest exporter of natural gas after Russia, and ranks fourth in world natural gas production.