I really liked your questions. The article serves a good way to open the debate for a larger issue.
To continue speaking in the framework of CA’s groundwater and Nestle, it does seem egregious that the company can tap into an arguably non-renewable resource (or that takes a lot of time to recharge) for next to no cost and then sell it for healthy profits. One on hand, they are serving a customer demand (whether that should exist or not is a separate question).
I believe that the best way to regulate is to have a public water authority set market rates for water and have consumer and business be on a similar price framework. These rates should be dynamic and adjusted for simple economic conditions like supply and demand and take into account longer term conservation costs that no one pays into today.
This achieves the overall goal of conserving water and also instills conservation in the home. Harvesting water from places like CA will become naturally costly, end consumer price will likely go up and ultimately corporations will be pushed to go to “water positive” locations and consumers will consume less.
E-commerce is a trend that is undeniable. Store inventory visibility, same day pick up are some capabilities that will be key as Uniqlo goes from private labels to more fast fashion.
What I find is that they have centralized their Merchandising, R&D, Production and Marketing under one roof. Having doing multiple consulting projects in the apparel, the biggest issue I find the 4 critical functions listed above are completely scatter brained. If UNIQLO has indeed succeeded in bringing them together and has a foundation of sales and inventory data that all teams can pull off, they are in amazing position to respond to the customer signal faster.
Fast fashion requires quick sensing of customer demand and quick production turn around to prevent out of stocks. I think UNIQLO should only double down on building out digital capacity along it’s supply chain to increase nimbleness and speed.
I agree that Statoil has been doing a good job of reducing it’s carbon footprint, but I wonder if it has had to make any tough decisions or trade-offs. For example, are the LNG vessels costlier or less ideal to operate? I think corporations will always choose to make the green choice if it helps their bottom line.
If this indeed a trade off then I think that’s where the government comes in. The environment a tragedy of the commons and different bodies need to agree to make equal compromises for the greater good. That’s why comprehensive buy into agreements like Paris are critical.
Personally, I doubted UHG’s ability to set up a entrepreneurial business unit within it’s legacy organization. They might have moved slower to the pace of change required to not get out competed by the start ups. However, in immediate juxtaposition to that hypothesis is the how big a portion of UHG’s revenues Optum makes up. They have a huge cache of experience and data and seem to be pulling it off.
However, they key unlock Oscar etc bring is changing the fundamental relationship with the patient has with their healthcare. I know UHG can get “digital” but I wonder if they can usher in a more efficient paradigm.
I will this to all industries to answer your question – what should countries do when a foreign producer can render domestic firms non-competitive?
To take a contrarian opinion – I think a key consideration is will losing R&D US jobs lead to a drastic loss in talent and capability domestically. One can argue that solar technology is still in a nascent phase and R&D will uncover efficiency and new technology. If left exposed to competition, Sunivia and Solarworld will go out of business and be unable to contribute to the overall progress of the technology in the USA.
If one is to believe that trends of automation will eventually lead to a convergence in production prices, USA needs domestic firms to stay in business. So I think there is a big difference between installation and manufacturing jobs and Musk might want to think that through.
As for Tesla, I think they will win on the merits of their scale and technology – regardless of the policies.
An interesting alternative is what India is doing with it’s current procurement of Dasssault Rafale’s from France. Dassault will be making 36 jets in Europe and then transferring technology to HAL (government manufacturer). It’s different in India because the labor costs are low and consequently there might even be benefits of local production, but it is a great way for the government to hedge it’s position.
To answer your question though – I do think the government has a responsibility to use procurement contracts to further social projects. However, it has to be worth the taxpayer’s money and set up the community for future success. It can be a powerful tool for affirmative action – for example, a lot of public bodies try to steer investment towards minority or women owned businesses.
There isn’t any inherent reason why Aus shoudn’t be a leading ship building and the government could structure this $90B investment as a way to stand up this capability.