Industrial Insight

Comments on rigging

March 31, 2010
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Interesting discussion on rigging….It would seem rigging info is no different than the machine shop’s intellectual property it creates when it designs tooling to hold the part, selects cutting tools and feeds and speeds etc. All this is very specific to a machine shop and I don’t think its shared.

Doesn’t it come down to this – what business are you in? selling good castings or selling rigging info?

Just my .02

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SFSA Casteel Reporter – March 2010

March 30, 2010
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Chinese prices for Chinese quality

March 29, 2010
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I hate to think we will need more tragedies before we recognize the cultural and moral differences in our economies.

When Is It Safe To Buy From China?
Posted by tudor_vanhampton at 3/26/2010 10:20 AM CDT

“Evidence filed in a civil case against Lomma and others shows that RTR, founded in 1998, is an ISO-certified manufacturer of large-diameter bearings. Even today, its website discusses—in broken English—its fabrication capabilities in detail.

“All I will tell you is this: Jimmy Lomma and New York Crane purchased a bearing from what they believed was a reputable company in China,” says Paul Shechtman, a lawyer representing New York Crane in the criminal case.

Bernadette Panzella, a lawyer in the civil case, is suing Lomma and others on behalf of Donald R. Leo, the father of the crane operator who fell 13 stories and died tragically in the collapse. She has produced an affidavit signed by Jun “Joyce” Wang, the so-called general manager of RTR, who claims that the company actually is not a manufacturer at all but merely a holding company that brokers export deals.

“My company, RTR, has a very small office with seven workers, including me,” says Wang in the affidavit, signed in the U.S. embassy in Paris on April 27, 2009. It continues, “RTR does not employ any engineer, has no factory and does no manufacturing.””

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Steel speaks up…

March 26, 2010
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US CEOs to Congress: Time to step up to China in trade war

Trade policy and China were at the forefront of testimony heard at yesterday’s Congressional steel caucus hearing as US industry leaders pushed for Congress to fight China’s “abusive” trade policy.

“We are in a trade war; we just haven’t shown up for it,” stated Dan DiMicco, CEO of Nucor. “For too long, our government was complacent about China’s illegal and abusive trade policy. But we are finally fighting back.”

China’s currency policy is at the heart of not only America’s trade imbalances, but global trade imbalances, DiMicco said.

AK Steel CEO James Wainscott said America’s government must tell its global competitors: “Stop manipulating your currency; drop your import barriers; eliminate your export subsidies, and keep your unemployment on your shores, not ours.”

The CEOs weren’t the only ones displeased with China. Congressman Charlie Wilson of Ohio expressed anger that China both subsidizes its steel products and undervalues its currency, yet “we get grief because we want to put Buy America clauses in our bills.”

Dealing with China’s alleged currency undervaluation has been a hot topic in Washington recently, as Steel Business Briefing has been reporting.

Nearly all those testifying encouraged caucus members to support the legislation introduced by caucus vice-chairman Tim Murphy and Congressman Tim Ryan to combat currency manipulation. The legislation would allow injured industries to seek a remedy under US trade laws. “Their bill treats currency manipulation for what it is – an illegal export subsidy!” DiMicco stated.

Industry leaders push Congress for US manufacturing policy

As America struggles with unemployment around 10%, job creation was a recurring theme of yesterday’s Congressional steel caucus hearing in Washington, DC.

Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco compared domestic job losses over the past two years to those of the Great Depression and said such historic worker displacement will require an equally historic response.

“We need an effort comparable to World War II and the Apollo (space) program, combined, to create jobs and rebuild our economy, especially the manufacturing sector,” DiMicco said during the hearing, attended by Steel Business Briefing.

DiMicco and other industry leaders told members of the caucus the best ways to create new jobs are to fix the nation’s “old and literally crumbling” infrastructure, continue to support “Buy America” provisions in legislation and balance the trade deficit (see related articles). He and others testifying urged the policymakers to push for a strong national manufacturing policy.

“A country that no longer produces things is a country in decline,” said Tom Conway, international vice president of the United Steelworkers union (USW).

Steel leaders say US infrastructure spending needed now

As other countries progress with critical infrastructure investments, domestic industry leaders lamented the US government’s foot-dragging in making similar long-term infrastructure investments here.

Very little of the $110bn slated for infrastructure under last year’s $787bn federal stimulus package has been spent on major, long-term job-creating projects, Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco said during yesterday’s Congressional steel caucus hearing in Washington DC, attended by Steel Business Briefing.

“We need much more than just short-term fixes that paint bridges and fill potholes,” added Tom Conway, international vice president of the United Steelworkers union (USW). “We need the foresight of an Eisenhower who created the interstate highway system – a system essential to our development into a global powerhouse.”

Caucus member Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota has proposed a comprehensive, multi-year $500bn transportation act, which steel industry leaders encouraged fellow caucus members to make a top priority.

“When Shanghai and Paris have truly state-of-the-art high-speed rail, but we can’t even fix old rails, that’s a serious problem,” Conway said.

Caucus chair Pete Visclosky’s office pointed out that the Congressional committee has spearheaded several initiatives related to infrastructure and manufacturing over the past year, including the American Steel First Act, the addition of the “Buy America” provision to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and advocating for reauthorization of surface transportation legislation.

Those testifying before the caucus encouraged continued use of “Buy America” in future legislation. And the caucus members appeared obliged to comply.

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US pollution down while economy grows

March 25, 2010
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Graph of the Day for March 18, 2010

Randall Hoven

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Our US Deficit is out of control.

March 23, 2010
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March 22, 2010 Zombies and Rube Goldberg Machines

John P. Hussman, Ph.D.

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Oil in short fall..

March 15, 2010
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The challenges ahead for world oil

Posted by James Hamilton at March 14, 2010 06:35 AM

The surprise to markets in 2008 was that even $100 oil wouldn’t be enough to prevent world demand from growing above 85 million barrels a day, and much more than 85 million barrels a day simply wasn’t going to be produced at that time.

The authors’ inference is not an optimistic one:

If annual per-capita oil demand growth rates to 2030 were assumed to be held zero in the OECD, 1% in the [former Soviet Union], and at its 1971-2008 historical rate (2.54% annually) in the rest of the world, total oil demand will be 138 mbd in 2030– about 30 mbd greater than what is projected by DOE, IEA, and OPEC.

If you have a plan for how the world might produce 138 mbd, I’d like to hear it. If not, the challenges of 2007-2008 will return with a vengeance.

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March 10, 2010
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Forgot the graph

Raymond W. Monroe Executive Vice President Steel Founders' Society of America 780 McArdle Dr. Unit G Crystal Lake, IL 60014 USA Tel: 815-455-8240 Fax: 815-455-8241

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Stimulus or Shrinkulus?

March 10, 2010
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What’s Gross About Our Gross Domestic Product?

*By* *Robert Arnott*

“From 1952 through 2009, each 1% change in US government outlays as a percent of GDP was accompanied by a 1.8% shrinkage in the private sector (the non-Government GDP). If we ignore the extreme outlier year of 2009, the multiplier actually /increases/ from 1.8 to 2.4. And, the statistical significance is off-the-charts. If we go back to the turbulent years of the Great Depression and the two World Wars, we find similar results. It would appear that the Keynesian multiplier, redefined to tie government outlays to the growth in the private sector economy, is about -2.”

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What empire stage for the US?mex

March 9, 2010
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I think we may revive or endure longer but this empire stuff is sobering…

Collapse of the American Empire: swift, silent, certain

Paul B. Farrell

‘Collapse of All Empires:’ 5 stages repeating through the ages

Ferguson opens with a fascinating metaphor: “There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than ‘The Course of Empire,’ a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hangs in the New York Historical Society. Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in ‘The Course of Empire,’ he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day. Each of the five imagined scenes depicts the mouth of a great river beneath a rocky outcrop.”

If you’re unable to see them at the historical society, they’re all reproduced in Foreign Affairs, underscoring Ferguson’s warnings that the “American Empire on the precipice,” near collapse.

First. ‘The Savage State,’ before the Empire rises

“In the first, ‘The Savage State,’ a lush wilderness is populated by a handful of hunter-gatherers eking out a primitive existence at the break of a stormy dawn.” Imagine our history from Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492 on through four more centuries as we savagely expanded across the continent.

Second. ‘The Arcadian or Pastoral State,’ as the American Empire flourishes

“The second picture, ‘The Arcadian or Pastoral State,’ is of an agrarian idyll: the inhabitants have cleared the trees, planted fields, and built an elegant Greek temple.” The temple may seem out of place. However, Cole’s paintings were done in 1833-1836, not long after Thomas Jefferson built the University of Virginia using classical Greek and Roman revival architecture.

As Ferguson continues the tour you sense you’re actually inside the New York Historical Society, visually reminded of how history’s great cycles do indeed repeat over and over. You are also reminded of one of history’s great tragic ironies — that all nations fail to learn the lessons of history, that all nations and their leaders fall prey to their own narcissistic hubris and that all eventually collapse from within.

Third. Consummation of the American Empire

“The third and largest of the paintings is ‘The Consummation of Empire.’ Now, the landscape is covered by a magnificent marble entrepôt, and the contented farmer-philosophers of the previous tableau have been replaced by a throng of opulently clad merchants, proconsuls and citizen-consumers. It is midday in the life cycle.”

‘The Consummation of Empire’ focuses us on Ferguson’s core message: At the very peak of their power, affluence and glory, leaders arise, run amok with imperial visions and sabotage themselves, their people and their nation. They have it all.

But more-is-not enough as greed, arrogance and a thirst for power consume them. Back in the early days of the Iraq war, Kevin Phillips, political historian and former Nixon strategist, also captured this inevitable tendency in Wealth and Democracy:

“Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out.” We sense the “consummation” of the American Empire occurred with the leadership handoff from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.

Unfortunately that peak is behind us: Clinton, Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and all future American leaders are merely playing their parts in the greatest of all historical dramas, repeating but never fully grasping the lessons of history in their insatiable drive for “economic progress,” to recapture former glory … while unwittingly pushing our empire to the edge, into collapse.

Four. Destruction of the Empire

Then comes ‘The Destruction of Empire,’ the fourth stage in Ferguson’s grand drama about the life-cycle of all empires. In “Destruction” “the city is ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky.” Elsewhere in “The War of the World,” Ferguson described the 20th century as “the bloodiest in history, one hundred years of butchery.” Today’s high-tech relentless news cycle, suggests that our 21st century world is a far bloodier return to savagery.

At this point, investors are asking themselves: How can I prepare for the destruction and collapse of the American Empire? There is no solution in the Cole-Ferguson scenario, only an acceptance of fate, of destiny, of history’s inevitable cycles.

But there is one in “Wealth, War and Wisdom” by hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, Morgan Stanley’s former chief global strategist who warns us of the “possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure,” advising us to buy a farm in the mountains.

“Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food … well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson.” And when they come looting, fire “a few rounds over the approaching brigands’ heads.”

Five. Desolation … after the Empire disappears

“Finally, the moon rises over the fifth painting, ‘Desolation,'” says Ferguson. There is not a living soul to be seen, only a few decaying columns and colonnades overgrown by briars and ivy.” No attacking “brigands?” No loveable waste-collecting robots from Wall-E?

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About author

I'm the executive vice president for a steel casting trade association, the Steel Founders' Society of America. I've got a crazy wife, five crazy children, three crazy people that married into the family, and two crazy fun little grandsons.