A farewell to cheap Chinese goods

The “era of cheap Chinese consumer goods” may be at an end, says Alexandra Harney in Slate. For about 20 years, U.S. consumers have “benefited from an extraordinary confluence of factors,” including plentiful and cheap Chinese factory labor, an “undervalued” Chinese currency, and inexpensive raw materials. Well, no more. There is good news in this for Chinese workers, who are seeing better wages and working conditions. But it’s bad news for “American retailers and consumers hooked on $3 T-shirts,” because there’s “no other China waiting in the wings.” Other nations hold some promise, but all lack “China’s one-stop shop appeal.” So get ready to “pick up the tab.”

Corporate raids on the tip jar

If corporate executives wonder “why they are held in such low esteem,” says Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post, they need to look no further than American Airlines’ skycaps. In an effort to squeeze “an extra tenth of a point in profit margin,” American executives decided to charge $2 per bag for curbside check-in, effectively “robbing the tip jar of their most visible front-line employees.” Not only is it “incredible stupidity” to ding a successful, popular, and cost-effective service, along with the “highly motivated employees” who run it, but it’s also “rank hypocrisy.” Isn’t retaining motivated employees the rationale for adding to the overflowing “tip jar of millionaire executives”?