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On December 1, 2017, HBS2019 commented on Good Tariffs Make Good Neighbors? :

DC, great post! Thanks for providing insights and putting the spotlight on this important issue. I believe that ArcelorMittal should actually persuade President Trump to refrain from imposing a trade tariff on steel, as I believe that the ensuing trade war with other countries that would likely follow would ultimately outstrip the potential benefits associated with being able to sell steel in the US at higher prices. Economists agree that a trade war would damage both the American and world economies, and any downturn in the economy would certainly impact the steel industry [1]. Furthermore, historical evidence supports the notion that imposing tariffs on steel will ultimately have an adverse economic impact. George W. Bush imposed tariffs of up to 30% on steel imports into the US in 2002, which caused steel prices to spike, but also resulted in approximately 200,000 people losing their jobs in manufacturing [1].

[1] Annie Lowrey, “The Limits of ‘Made in America’ Economics”, The Atlantic, July 20, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/made-in-america/534339/, accessed December 2017.

On December 1, 2017, HBS2019 commented on Nike: Leading the Path to Fighting Climate Change :

Snake, thanks very much for sharing these insights about Nike. To be completely honest, I had no idea that Nike was undertaking all of these initiatives to combat climate change, so my first recommendation would be for Nike to proactively promote this to the world more effectively. The cynic in me is thinking that switching to more sustainable methods could potentially negatively impact the quality of the end-product, and thus Nike has not been highlighting these adjustments to customers. Therefore, I would like to know more about how these sustainable methods are impacting product quality. I would also really like to see the financial impact that switching to these sustainable methods is having on production costs. If these methods are in fact cost-saving, I agree that Nike should be more proactive about being a change agent for the apparel industry and its customers. It seems like this would be a win-win situation.

M, very interesting post on Fetzer Vineyards’s methods of combatting climate change. While it’s great to see that Fetzer is taking the initiative to move toward long-term sustainability, I do worry that this may be distracting from perhaps their most existential concern of enhancing yields in a world where more frequent shifts in the climate are threatening the ability to produce wine-bearing grapes. If I were Fetzer, in the immediate term, I would be focusing my efforts on developing technologies or chemicals that enable grapes to continue to grow effectively even with variations in the temperature or climate. Ideally, this would also coincide with long-term sustainability, as processes may require less water, if any, etc. While I imagine investing in innovative research such as this could be quite costly, it may end up being exactly what is required to stay in business over the coming decades.

Eleanora, thanks for providing such a thorough and interesting read on GM’s recent reactions to the threats of trade isolationism. I am actually quite surprised to read that GM is proactively implementing such significant changes as a result of the potential threat of trade isolationism. Ultimately, I believe that maintaining a strong international footprint will be quite important as innovations such as 3D printing have the ability to completely change the way goods are manufactured. While we may still be a 10 years away from this, 3D printing would essentially render tariffs obsolete as the only item that would be required to cross a border is the digital design of a product. In such a scenario, maintaining an international presence would be quite beneficial to GM, as these plants could be equipped with 3D printers and products would not have to be shipped between countries. Just additional food for thought.

On December 1, 2017, HBS2019 commented on The Digitization of Ice Cream :

Ice Cream, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post and am now craving some ice cream! While I am convinced that the smart shelf concept would provide meaningful benefits to manufacturers like Nestle – assuming that the shelves are viable from a cost perspective – I am not convinced that retailers are going to welcome this idea with open arms. As a retailer, I would be hesitant to allow Nestle to have so much access and control over the shelf space in my store. While many retailers could likely be convinced, this is something that Nestle will have to consider when evaluating this idea.

Very interesting and informative read! The merits of 3D printing in the highly complex airline industry are certainly exciting. While likely a longshot, I wonder whether the decline in production costs associated with the adoption of 3D printing will ultimately reduce costs to a point where the barriers to entry in the airline manufacturing industry are low enough to encourage new manufacturers to enter the industry and challenge Boeing.

We are certainly a long way away from something like this potentially happening, but I expect that innovations such as 3D printing have the potential to redefine the airline manufacturing landscape in the long-term.