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On December 1, 2017, Astatine commented on Can Protectionism Save Auto Jobs in the US? :

This is a great article. As you’ve pointed out, China is a more cost effective manufacturing location and Ford is able to leverage technical expertise in China which is not available in the USA. From a production point of view, this absolutely makes sense. Furthermore, Ford’s sales outside of North America are less than 65%% of its total sales. Import tariffs would hurt its business in the USA but it’s a cost the company will incur through inefficient and less value-adding process if it choose to manufacture in the USA anyway. Furthermore, as emerging markets continue to grow and Ford continues to pursue higher global growth, it’s important for it to position itself best to take advantage of this growth, especially with the backdrop of an increasingly competitive global environment. In what has been widely criticized as a US political crisis (which hopefully is a short term issue), and with the pursuit of more cost-effective production and increased innovation to compete better in the global market, moving manufacturing to China makes sense. I think Ford made the right decision.

This is a very interesting topic and even more interesting as it relates to Nike, the forerunner of footwear importation before it was forced to build its own brand and only outsource production to Japanese manufacturers. I completely agree with the Adidas Chief Executive that it’s illogical and financially nonviable to reshore and I further think that any reshoring that is going to happen will be limited and designed to be just enough to appease the politicians.

More than 90% of Nike’s operations are located outside of the USA. It’s hard to imagine how a significant portion of that could be relocated back to the USA especially as global business serving the global market. It is quite clear that any onshoring that will happen will be due to political pressure and may be nothing more than a symbol. However, it may be enough to create enough jobs to make a difference in the for the few who would benefit, regardless of how low skilled those jobs are.

On December 1, 2017, Astatine commented on Enjoy your morning espresso (while you still can). :

Similar to one of the comments above, I was not aware of how acute the effects of climate change are on the coffee industry specifically. As a small player in a large market with a deep supply chain, I think that Nespresso is certainly punching above its weight. Not only is its approach to lobbying government for wholesale change appropriate, but it should also partner with larger players. Some of the comments have mentioned partnering with other coffee companies. I agree with them. I also believe that they should partner with other kinds of agricultural businesses (wheat, corn, etc. that are also affected by climate change to a similar degree) and other FMCG companies further up the value chain, including of course its parent company, Nestle. I think that a well orchestrated programme being driven by Nestle, Unilever, P&G, PepsiCo would be incredibly powerful to effect policy and standard operating procedures in the industry.

This is a very interesting topic! It seems that the commercial concern circles around the potential reluctance from the public to accept lab meat. A lot of this may have to do with people’s perception of what the process of making “traditional” meat actually entails. The meat manufacturing process has become a highly industrialised process that consumers are completely removed from and not enough awareness has been raised about the issues of the process. The process is incredibly cruel (branding, unnatural food causing bloating in cattle, feedlots filled with ammonia and methane, etc.) and is chemical-intensive (e.g. 70% of beef are treated with carbon monoxide to make the meat look fresher for longer, the use of “meat glue”, viral sprays, antibiotics, asthama-inducing drugs, etc. ). If consumers knew this, perhaps they would see that we actually aren’t too far off from “lab meat” after all and perhaps the lack of animal cruelty in a lab is much more appealing.


Great article. I agree that digitizing the supply chain of CemArgos would boost profitability but I think it would be a short term effect. It’s reasonable to assume that its competitors will also digitize their supply chain and this will eliminate CemArgos’s competitive advantage. Similar to mining, the competitive advantage in a commoditized space, as you’ve outlined, is the level of costs in the business. Where a company lies on the mining cost curve tends to depend on both the geological and operations/process factors of its mines – the geological factors (depth of mining, age of mine, yield, etc.) being the main factor as processes can be replicated. In CemArgos’s case, there is no geological advantages and processes can be replicated. If CemArgo doesn’t move first and digitize its supply chain, its competitors will. Therefore, I agree that it’s necessary for CemArgo to digitize its supply chain and not only to strive to succeed, but simply to survive.

On December 1, 2017, Astatine commented on Convoy Poised to Win the Startup Trucking Race :

This is a very interesting topic with obvious comparisons to other platforms that exist today (Airbnb, Uber, etc.) and feels like a model that can be implemented with good chances of success in fragmented non-linear networks to create efficiency. Looking at the trucking business, telematics technology exists (and is being used by trucking companies) and can be used to implement what Convoy proposes. So my question is, what is holding back existing telematics companies from integrating themselves and increasing the barriers to entry for companies like Convoy? I believe that Convoy’s competition is not other trucking startups but rather these existing telematics business that already provide network services to trucking businesses and can adapt to new competition and make it harder for Convoy (and others) to enter the market.