Seeking Alpha

"The 21st Century may be American after all," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. "Re-inshoring" -...

"The 21st Century may be American after all," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. "Re-inshoring" - the process of jobs lost to China coming back - is a new buzzword as U.S. manufacturing has subtlety become very competitive. Additionally, the country is closer to energy self-sufficiency than commonly believed, and about to get more so. Toss in the best demographics of the major economies and the continuing EU troubles, and it's advantage America.
Comments (44)
  • TraderMark
    , contributor
    Comments (2422) | Send Message
     
    Meh. Mexico will get most of those jobs - that's where the jobs were headed before China undercut labor prices.
    23 Oct 2011, 09:57 PM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (837) | Send Message
     
    I wouldn't bet on it, Mark. I am an engineer who is responsible for testing and manufacturing in the US, China and Mexico. The quality and consistency of the work is higher in the US than in China and much, much, much higher than in Mexico. I won't even get into work ethic. And please, don't take these comments as racist. They are merely based on my professional experience. Frankly, I have heard some in upper management say, if we didn't already have millions of dollars invested in Mexico, we would not be there.
    24 Oct 2011, 06:26 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Mexican workers are much less likely to confront management with production problems - a fear of authority. Have heard this is just one reason for qualitity problems.
    24 Oct 2011, 06:38 AM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (837) | Send Message
     
    Yeah, there is definitely a machismo culture that is problematic.
    24 Oct 2011, 08:45 AM Reply Like
  • Tom B
    , contributor
    Comments (3624) | Send Message
     
    Better Mexico than China. At least Mexico isn't bent on global domination.
    25 Oct 2011, 08:21 AM Reply Like
  • Barry Crocker
    , contributor
    Comments (441) | Send Message
     
    You lost me at Ambrose Evans-Pritchard : )
    23 Oct 2011, 10:01 PM Reply Like
  • Terry330
    , contributor
    Comments (866) | Send Message
     
    The US is fast becoming "North Mexico" with future tax cuts for top 5%.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:03 PM Reply Like
  • Vuke
    , contributor
    Comments (1645) | Send Message
     
    The article may be a little ambitious but one thing is correct: The U.S. has always been the best at making things work through distribution and marketing. Unleash the entrepreneurial spirit through less regulation and taxation and American business will do the rest.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:06 PM Reply Like
  • cynic2011
    , contributor
    Comments (652) | Send Message
     
    It would be surprising if re-inshoring occurred to a degree large enough to affect the overall US economy. The US has a shortage of unskilled labor at any price,which is what China and Mexico et al have a surplus of.

     

    but that's what comparative advantage is all about.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:12 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    We also have a shortage of "specific" skilled labor.
    24 Oct 2011, 06:39 AM Reply Like
  • Tom B
    , contributor
    Comments (3624) | Send Message
     
    It depends what skills you are looking for, I suppose.
    25 Oct 2011, 08:22 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Caterpiller, Siemans, for two who would hire more if they could find the workers with the right skills.
    25 Oct 2011, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (837) | Send Message
     
    From my experience, cynic2011, you have it backwards. I had to interview 12 candidates before I found one with the proper skills/experience to be a chemical lab technician. Moreover, before I was hired, my boss told me they interviewed about 35 candidates before they were able to find me. There seems to be plenty of "unskilled" (i.e. those without proper engineering, scientific, technical) candidates and a death of "skilled". It seems to me, this is where America is lacking.
    25 Oct 2011, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Half of all college attendees never get a degree. We need "trade" schools that teach specific skills.
    25 Oct 2011, 11:52 AM Reply Like
  • Mike Maher
    , contributor
    Comments (2514) | Send Message
     
    We need businesses to train people. Whats better, interviewing 100 people over the course of a year to find someone perfect, or hiring someone after a month of looking, paying them less, and training them. One person learning to do a job is more productive than a newspaper ad.
    25 Oct 2011, 07:28 PM Reply Like
  • bkpark
    , contributor
    Comments (325) | Send Message
     
    Too bad for certain jobs, "paying them less" isn't an option---it'd be illegal to pay employees below a certain level (level that wasn't illegal mere 5 years ago).

     

    And for jobs where this isn't a limitation (i.e. skilled jobs where minimum wage is never at issue), well, often either the workers come trained or they aren't ... amenable to training at all (i.e. if they had the aptitude for the technical requirements of the job, they'd have learned much of that in school---or as hobby).
    25 Oct 2011, 08:27 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    No one with the proper skills will work for minimum wage - and why should they. I've been trying to hire someone at $10 an hour and can't find a good candidate.
    25 Oct 2011, 08:35 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Maher
    , contributor
    Comments (2514) | Send Message
     
    I doubt there are many people who are trying to hire minimum wage employees and having a shortage of qualified labor.

     

    As for your second point, by that logic because I have not learned something already, at 26, I therefore must be incapable of doing it? That seems a bit ridiculous, don't you think?
    25 Oct 2011, 10:02 PM Reply Like
  • bkpark
    , contributor
    Comments (325) | Send Message
     
    No.

     

    On the other hand, if you have not learned some very basic skills already then you are really not the kind of person any business would want to take the chance trying to train (esp. given all the risks that you may quit/go work for a competitor, etc. before they make their money back on their investment, etc.).

     

    For example, if you don't know same basic math and science (basic calculus and introductory college-level sciences), no engineering firm should waste time with you. If you haven't done some basic computer programming and/or web designing, no software firm should waste time with you.

     

    Unfortunately for a lot of college grads (not to mention those who couldn't finish with some sort of degree, no matter how worthless), above holds true---they simply do not have the basic foundation necessary for any sort of on-the-job training to take hold (for some of them, it's lucky if they can simply type at 100 wpm, as, well, a lot of English majors do).

     

    I'm not saying you can't teach old dog new tricks; it's just that the tricks must be learned at the dog's expense, not the businesses'---especially given the risks involved in training any new person who has absolutely nothing to show for himself.
    26 Oct 2011, 12:14 AM Reply Like
  • Mike Maher
    , contributor
    Comments (2514) | Send Message
     
    SO its better for a business to suffer lower productivity due to a lack of employees, than to try to train someone? I get what your saying about engineering degrees, as well as computer programming, but for skilled manufacturing or machine operator jobs, I'm sure many people could learn. At one point, everyone had no experience in a skill, so I don't find the "we cant find enough skilled workers" excuse to be that compelling.
    26 Oct 2011, 12:27 AM Reply Like
  • bkpark
    , contributor
    Comments (325) | Send Message
     
    You must not realize this, but it *costs* businesses money to train people (this is in addition to the salary they pay to most employees, even the new ones).

     

    Yes. It is better for businesses to suffer (temporary) lower productivity due to a lack of employees than to squander their limited capital and human resources on somebody who (indicated by their lack of degree and prior training---either formal or informal) have low chance of finally working out in the job, *even if* they weren't poached by competitors when they do learn the job.

     

    As with all investments, there are risks to investment in human capital. It's perfectly reasonable and rational for businesses to want to limit that risk by seeking those who are qualified for the job, not who must become qualified while on the job.
    26 Oct 2011, 01:34 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Do you want to do manual labor for $10 an hour? Also the area I am in, though the unemplyment is high, people sit and wait for the higher paying jobs, because they can.
    26 Oct 2011, 07:49 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    There are plenty out there that can't learn. I've dealt with those people for years.
    26 Oct 2011, 07:51 AM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (837) | Send Message
     
    Training is a delicate issue because it seems to correlate with work ethic. Generally, whether rightly or wrongly, if someone is 26 years old and hasn't made strides in his/her professional career that are applicable to the position he/she is applying for, then I am not sure I want to take them on and train them. It takes away from my time, its 50/50 they are going to work out, etc. I replaced one contract technician because, frankly, he just could not, or would not, follow directions. I am finding that there are many people out there that claim they want to be trained, but when it comes down to it, they act they are doing you a favor if they actually do more than warm the seat.
    26 Oct 2011, 08:46 AM Reply Like
  • muchbusiness
    , contributor
    Comments (247) | Send Message
     
    We own a small business. What you just reported has also been our experience.
    26 Oct 2011, 10:46 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Yes, I have guys who beg for a job, I hire them, and then I catch them texting everytime I turn around.
    That being said, the best workers I have found are guys in their late 40's or 50's who have a decent work record, but by bad luck are without a job. They want a home, they want a paycheck and a "comfortable" place to work. By comfortable I mean a place where they get along with everyone else. Very important to keep a**ho**s out of the workplace.
    26 Oct 2011, 11:56 AM Reply Like
  • muchbusiness
    , contributor
    Comments (247) | Send Message
     
    Not true. It will be Italy's Century. Once they pay off their debts, there economy will rocket and they will once again be the great Roman Empire.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:13 PM Reply Like
  • Tom B
    , contributor
    Comments (3624) | Send Message
     
    Got to hurry on back to my hotel room
    Where I’ve got me a date with Botticelli’s niece
    She promised that she’d be right there with me
    When I paint my masterpiece
    25 Oct 2011, 08:24 AM Reply Like
  • Econdoc
    , contributor
    Comments (2944) | Send Message
     
    Yes.

     

    Ageing more slowly than all developed and some emergings - eg. China. Immigration. Immigration. Immigration.

     

    Super productive and with an overabundance of intellectual capital

     

    Better infrastructure than many believe

     

    Rule of law - deep capital markets

     

    Don't bet against America - it has been a losing proposition for almost 2 and one half centuries.

     

    E
    23 Oct 2011, 10:20 PM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    More than once on this site I've stated a belief that the US may very well lead the world out of these doldrums.
    24 Oct 2011, 06:41 AM Reply Like
  • Tom B
    , contributor
    Comments (3624) | Send Message
     
    Also-- on the college level- the best educational system in the world (if the GOP can be stopped from totally gutting financial aid).
    25 Oct 2011, 08:25 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Tom B:

     

    No wonder so many from other countries flock here for higher education. Local colleges and businesses in my area are working hard in linking up for the next tech revolutions.
    25 Oct 2011, 09:46 AM Reply Like
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
    Comments (3150) | Send Message
     
    He leaves out the little itty bitty thing called the national debt!

     

    And he doesn't much touch on our increasing regulatory burden when compared to other countries (and I'm not implying no regulations, but moderate and guided by common sense).

     

    Balance the budget and then I'd be likely to say he's correct in the macro view. But the government fiscal situation is so severe that it makes everthing else small in comparison.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:28 PM Reply Like
  • Tom B
    , contributor
    Comments (3624) | Send Message
     
    The national debt does not effect national competitiveness unless you let it. There is such a thing as credit, and if the economy gets growing again, the deficit will go down.
    25 Oct 2011, 08:26 AM Reply Like
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
    Comments (3150) | Send Message
     
    Dream on. All the money spent servicing the debt is money not spent on infrastructure and our next generations.... And when your borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent..... you can look forward to spending a large percentage of your budget simply servicing the debt.

     

    Our debt and deficit spending are the greatest threat to our country since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.... what is sad is that this attack is from within.
    25 Oct 2011, 03:09 PM Reply Like
  • Bouchart
    , contributor
    Comments (767) | Send Message
     
    Who knows. A century is a long time.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:28 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Maher
    , contributor
    Comments (2514) | Send Message
     
    "Total US shale output is "set to expand dramatically" as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009. "

     

    If that's true, that will provide for drastically lower transportation costs and provide a large tailwind to economic growth. Low natural gas prices are making US chemical companies much more competitive than foreign companies, so that industry should continue to expand as well. The next 30-50 years should see exports of manufactured goods grow.
    23 Oct 2011, 10:38 PM Reply Like
  • muchbusiness
    , contributor
    Comments (247) | Send Message
     
    Don't bet on it. Once Congress sniffs the potential success, and it decides it needs to shake down the industry for campaign contributions, the most obscene regulatory propositions are going to be floated to scare away capital. Then the industry will have to look to the US Govt. for subsidies while the brown envelopes full of cash make there way to the members of the various Congressional energy committees.
    24 Oct 2011, 04:13 PM Reply Like
  • nasdaq99
    , contributor
    Comments (112) | Send Message
     
    we are a LOOOONG way from energy self sufficiently. total consuption = 25mbbls/day, production= 8mbbls/day, right? or close?

     

    so while any single barrell that closes that gap is "closer' to self sufficiency, i think you've quite overstated that case.
    23 Oct 2011, 11:01 PM Reply Like
  • Alex_G
    , contributor
    Comments (1124) | Send Message
     
    Nas,

     

    Both you and the author's numbers are way off. Net use is slightly under 19mm barrels per day, and we have net imports of 47% of that, down from 60% in 2005.

     

    Increased production, conservation, and blending NGL's in the refining process all play a part in the improvement. If we add substitution of CNG for transportation fuel, we actually have a fighting chance to be energy independent by 2020.
    24 Oct 2011, 01:35 AM Reply Like
  • untrusting investor
    , contributor
    Comments (9932) | Send Message
     
    Interesting thesis, but a long, long way from happening anytime real soon.
    23 Oct 2011, 11:15 PM Reply Like
  • rsengara
    , contributor
    Comments (21) | Send Message
     
    All of the onshoring of jobs for manufacturing is irrelevant if there is no consumer base left.
    24 Oct 2011, 04:40 AM Reply Like
  • OptionManiac
    , contributor
    Comments (3305) | Send Message
     
    Onshoring jobs creates a consumer base.
    24 Oct 2011, 06:40 AM Reply Like
  • bukdow
    , contributor
    Comments (837) | Send Message
     
    Exactly, Options. You want a "consumer base"? The housing market to stabilize? Give people jobs.
    25 Oct 2011, 12:45 PM Reply Like
DJIA (DIA) S&P 500 (SPY)
ETF Tools
Find the right ETFs for your portfolio:
Seeking Alpha's new ETF Hub
ETF Investment Guide:
Table of Contents | One Page Summary
Read about different ETF Asset Classes:
ETF Selector

Next headline on your portfolio:

|