I agree with you that maintaining a certain level of scarcity is important for a brand like Ralph Lauren, which relies more on its upscale image than on reflecting the latest runway trends.
I’m not necessarily on the same page regarding the threat posed by Amazon and other e-commerce platforms. Certainly Ralph Lauren ought to revamp its e-commerce presence, but this does not necessarily preclude the brand from partnering from high-end online retailers such as Net-a-Porter. While Ralph Lauren would not be able to collect customer data from sales through an external web site, perhaps big data is less important for a company that is less focused on a 4-6-week fashion cycle, and more focused on luxury basics.
Thanks for the read! You really highlighted the WTO’s frustrating inability to enforce its rulings. And the Trump administration is pushing its isolationist stance further by criticizing the WTO, almost to the point of threatening to break with the organization. So to answer your first question, I do believe that protectionism will escalate as the U.S. tries to repair its trade deficit and China grows its local industries.
Given the circumstances, I think Rayonier could take its diversification strategy one step further and acquire companies (American or international) whose product strategy focuses primarily on the domestic market. This sidesteps the issue of tariffs completely and significantly reduces risk related to political vagaries.
Minecraft, thanks for the beautifully written article about the cobalt-related risks facing
all EV manufacturers. You highlight that oftentimes green initiatives come with hidden environmental and/or ethical costs – leading to headlines like “Clean Electric Cars Are Built on Pollution in Congo.” 
Should Tesla use vertical integration to gain control over its supply chain, as you recommend? One possible danger is that if/when a viable substitute to cobalt or cobalt-intensive batteries emerges, Tesla may face the difficult choice of abandoning its capital-intensive efforts to expand the North American cobalt supply. And given that exploratory mining is such a risky endeavor (as we have been discussing in FIN1), Tesla may be better-served by doubling down on cobalt recycling.
Alicia, you pose the question of whether the long-term benefits of initiatives protecting tea yields from global warming are worth their short-term costs. This reminds me of our class discussions on carbon trading, which places a monetary value on environmental impact. Unilever CEO Paul Polman quantifies the effect of global warming on Unilever at $300 million/year , indicating that the positive effects of creating climate-change-proof tea crops can similarly be quantified. In fact, Unilever’s sustainability initiatives can simply be construed as mitigating these existing losses from climate change.
Michael, your comparison to Spotify’s business model is well taken! Amazon has the advantage over Netflix when it comes to the diversity of its purchasing data, which encompasses a wide variety of consumer products. And our class discussions have already brought up Amazon’s increasingly uncanny ability to anticipate the needs of its customers, to the point of knowing a woman was pregnant before she herself did.
To that point, is it really necessary for Amazon to purchase a niche television channel wholesale? Why not pick and choose the shows that its data indicates will attract the most viewers on its platform? To bring the conversation back to Spotify, listeners rarely stop to think about what label produced a certain song, and correspondingly I envision a world in which TV viewers will care less whether a show is Cinemax or Starz.