For everyone who wants the United States to become a (bigger) manufacturing powerhouse again — so, most people in the U.S., and every member of Congress — a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group is a mixed blessing. On Friday, BCG released its rankings of cost competitiveness in manufacturing around the world, and the U.S. came in second place, after China. It is now more cost effective to produce goods in the U.S. than Brazil, the report found.
The U.S., along with Mexico, is one of the BCG's "rising stars" of global manufacturing, for having "significantly improved relative to nearly all other leading exporters across the globe." At least 300 companies have brought their manufacturing back to the U.S. from overseas, because "it just makes economic sense," BCG senior partner Hal Sirkin, a co-author of the report, tells Yahoo News. "The gap is closing and, when you add the transportation costs, it makes a lot more sense for a lot of products to be made in the U.S. than in China."
That sounds great, right? But remember what made China so alluring to manufacturers in the first place — low labor costs, lax environmental standards, and overworked factory workers? Here's BCG's explanation for why the U.S. is back in the manufacturing game:
The key reasons were stable wage growth, sustained productivity gains, steady exchange rates, and a big energy-cost advantage that is largely driven by the 50 percent fall in natural-gas prices since large-scale production of U.S. shale gas began in 2005. [BCG]
Another way of saying that: Fracking, foreign exchange rates, and that "stable wage growth," which Reuters calls "a euphemism for the fact that, in inflation-adjusted terms, industrial wages here are lower today than they were in the 1960s even though worker productivity has doubled over the same period of time." The only one of those factors that isn't controversial is the stronger yuan.
As this chart from The New York Times shows, the jobs that have been created in the post–Great Recession recovery have skewed toward the low end of the pay scale:
Most manufacturing jobs pay pretty decently, especially compared with fast food service. But as we celebrate the return of the American manufacturing sector, it's worth remembering that it's only partly because "Made in China" is becoming more expensive — "Made in the USA" is also becoming cheaper, for better and for worse.
Leaders of the 27 nations remaining in the European Union after the United Kingdom's forthcoming Brexit on Saturday agreed unanimously to the terms of the exit process. "We are ready," said Michel Barnier, the EU27's chief negotiator. "We are together."
Formal negotiations will begin this summer, and the guidelines approved Saturday set March 29, 2019 as an end date. Among other requirements, the terms specify negotiations must address the U.K.'s financial obligations — Brussels seeks tens of billions of Euros from London on its way out — as well as creation of an EU-U.K. border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Pope Francis on Saturday celebrated Mass with a crowd of about 15,000 in Cairo, Egypt, a visit made at the invitation of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading moderate cleric and academic of Sunni Islam. The trip follows the Palm Sunday bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt that claimed at least 45 lives.
"God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!" Francis said in his homily. "Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."
Francis will visit the Egyptian Catholic community later Saturday. His has used his visit to Egypt to urge peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Bonnie Kristian
The Turkish government has blocked access to Wikipedia, watchdog organizations said Saturday.
"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website," said a statement from the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority, which did not provide an official reason for the block. The law the statement cited permits the government to ban websites deemed obscene or threatening to national security.
Turkish media reported authorities took issue with Wikipedia content "supporting terror" (or perhaps suggesting ties between Turkey and terrorist groups). When Wikipedia refused to remove the content in question, local stories said, the ban was Ankara's retaliation.
President Trump hit the 100-day mark of his presidency Saturday, a milestone he enthusiastically hailed in his weekly address the afternoon before.
"I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history," Trump said in the brief video. "Our country is going up, and it's going up fast. Our companies are doing better. They just announced fantastic profits all because of what's happened in this rather short period of time, and that's just the beginning."
While other assessments of Trump's first 100 days have been rather more mixed, Trump is indisputably leading by one metric: He has signed more executive orders so far than any president since Harry Truman. Trump will spend his 100th day signing yet another order, this one ordering a study of the effects of current U.S. trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization. Bonnie Kristian
"I'm disappointed that it doesn't go quicker," Trump said of working with Congress earlier Friday. "It is a very tough system." The stopgap measure had been put in jeopardy by a White House push to pass health-care reform before the administration's 100th day Saturday, but House leadership chose to delay a health-care vote until at least next week, paving the way for the bipartisan spending bill.
Thousands are expected to gather Saturday in Washington, D.C., on President Trump's 100th day in office for the 2017 People's Climate March. Activists are hailing the event as an opportunity to fight for climate protections the Trump administration has threatened to roll back and to push the promise of clean energy. "The climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn't cancel physics," said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, who helped organize the first iteration of the People's Climate March, which took place in New York in 2014.
The march — which happens to fall on what could be a record-breakingly hot day in D.C. — will begin in front of the Capitol at 12:30 p.m ET. Protesters are expected to make their way to the White House by 2 p.m. ET.
This will be the second science-related march in two weeks in D.C., following last weekend's March for Science, which coincided with Earth Day. Becca Stanek
Late night television is marking the occasion of President Trump's first 100 days in office by condensing four months of news into just seconds.
For a walk down memory lane, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert packed everything into 100 seconds, beginning with "inauguration" and "largest audience" and ending with "tax plan" and "harder than he thought." Some repetitions stand out — the amount of times people say "Russia," for example, is a little concerning:
— Yashar (@yashar) April 28, 2017
The Daily Show also did its own take on Trump's first 100 days in a supercut of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer counting from zero to 100. It is, incredibly, a lot more entertaining than it sounds:
100 days of Sean Spicer counting to 100 pic.twitter.com/7dLXwWgZcT
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) April 28, 2017