Maha Malik

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I agree with Grant in that I do not think that natural gas companies need to panic regarding NAFTA just yet (just given that I do think that natural gas will be prioritized in any renegotiation talks). At the same time, it is important to think through the broader operational challenges if natural gas trade were to be challenged in some way. For example, the natural gas industry in the U.S. has contributed to the rapid growth of the chemicals industry in the country, which in turn has benefited from access to Mexico. [1] Currently, Mexico is the second largest market for US chemicals – valued at $19.2 billion. [1] The ripple effects of a setback would extend beyond the immediate natural gas supply chain – making natural gas clauses in NAFTA even more sticky.

[1] Baker Institute. NAFTA Negotiations: What’s In It For The U.S.-Mexico Energy Trade? Forbes. November 2017.

On November 28, 2017, Maha Malik commented on Driving into the Unknown: Ford Motor Company and NAFTA :

As your article suggests, NAFTA’s current structure reduces the complexity of trade within North America. For example, tracking a car’s parts regionally would add an additional layer of reporting bureaucracy that would ultimately raise costs. [1] In the presence of NAFTA, the North American auto industry has been able to maintain stability, despite the rise of competition from emerging economies. [2] Given the rise in complexity, I am not convinced that in the absence of NAFTA, companies such as Ford would have no other option but to keep manufacturing jobs in the US. As international trade history would suggest, a rational firm would look for opportunities elsewhere. In this case, the optimal option is likely to relocate plants to Asia (and in particular, China). [2] This is simply because higher tax incentives may not be enough to offset cheaper real estate and labor costs in certain developing economies. [3] So whether it is China or elsewhere, companies such as Ford will have to explore relocation options to be able to provide low prices to their consumers and remain competitive in a fast automotive landscape – making the prospect of keeping automotive jobs in the US seem quite bleak.

[1] Coppola, Gabrielle. Auto Industry Warns Trump Is Proposing ‘Lose-Lose’ Changes to Nafta. Bloomberg. October 2017.
[2] Siekierska, Alicja. Why U.S. push on NAFTA rules of origin for auto industry may backfire and benefit Mexico. Financial Post. September 2017.
[3] Black, Thomas. Even a Nafta Collapse Won’t Keep Companies From Moving to Mexico. Bloomberg. October 2017.

On November 27, 2017, Maha Malik commented on Youngstown City School District: Modernizing The Yellow School Bus :

This article was very helpful in thinking through one use of autonomous vehicles and the unique operational challenges that accompany the application! An important issue for school districts to consider if and when they explore self-driving school buses is potential blowback from labor unions. There are about one million individuals in the US who make a living as drivers. [1] This includes 150,000 transit bus drivers and 500,000 school bus drivers. [1] The use of autonomous vehicles jeopardizes driver jobs, increasing the likelihood of union tensions if such technology is considered. This is not to say that the transition could not bring the benefits outlined in the above article but employer/employee tensions could lead to significant operational challenges in the short-run.

[1] Will Driverless Buses Be a Reality? Busbud.

On November 27, 2017, Maha Malik commented on Amazon Dominating Competition with Tech-Driven Supply Chain :

Similar to Drew and Levent, I am skeptical about Amazon’s ability to beat Alibaba in the Chinese market. Primarily due to regulations that limit the ability of foreign companies to compete, China has developed its own “alternate web universe.” [1] This means that local players, in particular, and Alibaba, continue to dominate the market. [1]

I think what will ultimately help Amazon compete with its US players is its ability to have a dense global supply chain that its US competitors might not yet have access to. If the regulatory environment remains the same, however, I doubt that this edge will help the company compete successfully in China. If anything, the outlook remains bleak. For example, Amazon recently sold off its cloud assets in China as a result of more stringent government regulation on online data in the country. [2]

Despite the setbacks, Amazon has not thrown in the towel just yet. The company is continuing to do aggressive talent recruitment in China, with over 400 jobs posted on its career portal for the country. [1]

[1] Amazon’s China Hiring Signals Renewed Ambitions in Alibaba Battle. Bloomberg Technology. September 2017.
[2] Cadell, Cate. Amazon sells off China cloud assets as tough new rules bite. Reuters. November 2017.

I generally agree with Vail’s current action plan and the additional recommendations you highlighted in the ‘looking ahead’ section! Similar to Sam, I am not sure that the commitment to zero-footprint is ‘impactful’ per say but it remains important to align the narrative on how the company is impacted by climate change and what it is doing to address the issue, to ultimately curb any concerns regarding hypocrisy on behalf ski resorts. In this regard, I found some of the advocacy work that ski resorts have been doing particularly interesting. For example, Katz released a statement in response to the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. [1] In response to the US withdrawal, Vail also signed We Are Still In, an open letter pledging to remain committed to doing their part in curbing climate change. [1]

On the issue of water supply, Vail could also consider working with local government authorities to optimize water regulations to address water source consistency issues (or even consider addressing the issue on a national level through policy advocacy work). I am sure Vail and other resorts have already been doing some of this work but I could not find any information on it through my research.

[1] Aspden, Lucy. ‘We are still in’: American ski resorts slam Donald Trump’s withdrawal from climate change deal. The Telegraph. June 2017.

On November 26, 2017, Maha Malik commented on American Airlines: Grounded by extreme heat :

Despite being a frequent traveler, I had never really thought of the climate change challenges faced by airlines! Eduard’s article explains the significant logistical challenges that airlines will have to tackle as climate change leads to an increase in temperature (disproportionately in some destinations than others). In addition to the climate change mitigation measures outlined in the article, airlines such as American should also consider adaptation strategies in the short-run, including:
• Improving working conditions especially for employees on the tarmac (for example, by providing air-conditioned trailers) [1]
• Building longer runways to facilitate takeoff [1]
• Raising traveler awareness about the issue of “weight restriction days” to curb consumer discontent if significant delays arise due to the issue [2]
• Investing in innovation to build aircraft that are more resilient to the weather challenges caused by climate change

[1] Ferris, Robert. There’s a scientific reason why hot weather has grounded planes at Phoenix airport. CNBC. June 2017.
[2] Gallegos, Jenna. Rising temperatures could bump you from your flight. Thanks, climate change. The Washington Post. July 2017.