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Indicators of environmental impact and financial performance are compared for case studies of tropical forest logging from the Brazilian Amazon, Guyana, and Ecuador. Each case study presents parameters obtained from monitoring initial harvest entries into primary forests for planned, reduced-impact logging (RIL) and unplanned, conventional logging (CL) operations. Differences in cost definitions and data collection protocols complicate the comparative analysis, and suggest that caution is necessary in interpreting results. Given this caveat, it appears that RIL can generate competitive or superior profits relative to CL if the financial costs of wood wasted in the harvesting operation are fully accounted for. Increased operational efficiency is an important benefit of RIL, one that largely determines its cost-effectiveness relative to conventional practices. Uncertainties concerning the marginal benefits of RIL relative to familiar, profitable conventional practices pose an obstacle to broader adoption. Moreover, CL firms face few incentives to alter their operations unless they face dramatic changes in market signals. Adoption of RIL techniques as part of a long-term forest management regime faces additional challenges related to the opportunity cost of silvicultural prescriptions and timber set-asides to maintain productivity and ecosystem integrity
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In recent years, in a variety of consumer goods industries, China has emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse. China already dominates world markets in certain industries that require relatively unsophisticated production technologies, like toys and low-end clothing. It also has been “moving up” to include moderate quality products in its product line. You can see this for yourself by checking out the Pottery Barn website and viewing the moderate quality furniture that they sell that is quite nice, much of it made in China. One interesting statistic is that while China has a little more than four times the population of the United States, it has eight times as many manufacturing workers. (As of the end of 2006, China had 113 million workers in manufacturing while the US had 14 million. See Lett and Banister (2009).)
The rise of China has had a big impact on manufacturing plants making these goods in the United States. This case study provides an overview of the impact. Part 1 uses the case study as an opportunity to discuss the theory of exit in competitive industries, expanding on the numerical example developed in class. Part 2 presents some statistics on how particular industries have been affected. Exit has been extremely high but some industry segments have survived. We discuss the economics of why some survive and others do not
Suppose that initially there is no possibility of imports from China. This could be because China initially is not developed enough to be competitive in the particular industry. Or it could be because of trade restrictions keeping imports out. (There were trade restrictions on textiles as discussed below.) Like in class, we can use the information on the firm’s cost structure (the left side of Figure 1) and the industry-level demand information (right side of Figure 1) to determine the long-run competitive equilibrium in the initial situation without imports:
Now suppose we have a new situation where imports from China begin to flow into the U.S. Suppose the good can now be imported from China at a price of $2. This drives the price in the U.S. down to $2. In the short run, there remain 100 domestic firms in the industry. At the lower price, the domestic firms will contract output. At the new price equal to $2, each firm reduces quantity to qSR,imp = 1 (where marginal cost equals the new price). As the firms cut output, they will cut variable inputs like labor. There are 100 domestic firms in the industry, so total domestic supply in the short run equals QSR,Imports = 100×1 = 100. (This is point B on the short-run supply curve with 100 firms.) At a price of P = $2, demand in the U.S. equals 300 units. The difference between the demand of 300 and the domestic supply of 100 is made up by imports of 200 (labeled Imports, SR in the figure)
At a price of $2, domestic firms lose money. Each firm’s profit equals (P − ATC)×q or (2 – 5) ×1 = –3. This loss is illustrated by the purple rectangle on the left-hand side figure above. On account of this loss, in the long run, all domestic firms will exit the industry and domestic production will be zero. The entire demand of 300 units will be met through imports from China. Domestic production (now zero) corresponds to point C in the graph
In work with John Stevens at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank (Holmes and Stevens (2014)), I have looked at industries that have been hit particularly hard by imports from China. The paper focuses on 17 industries as having been particularly impacted by a surge of imports from China over the period 1997-2007. These industries are listed in the table below taken from the paper
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Granite Crushing production line in Cameroon is composed of GZD1300 × 4900 vibrating feeder, PE900 × 1200 jaw crusher, FTMCS430 single-cylinder hydraulic cone crusher, PF1315 impact crusher, 2YK2460 circular vibrating screen, 2YK2160 circular vibrating sc
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In order to produce goods and services which can be sold, and generate revenue and profits, a firm must purchase or hire scarce inputs, which are its factors of production. These factors can be fixed or variable
Fixed factors are those that do not change as output is increased or decreased, and typically include premises such as its offices and factories, and capital equipment such as machinery and computer systems
Variable factors are those that do change with output, which means more are employed when production increases, and less when production decreases. Typical variable factors include labour, energy, and raw materials directly used in production
A firm is said to be in its short run when it can increase its output by using more variable factors, such as by hiring more workers, but not by increasing its fixed factors. In the short run firms do not use extra fixed factors, such moving to new premises, to increase output. Therefore, in the short run at least one factor of production is fixed
A firm enters its long run when it increases its scale of operations. Increasing scale means that no factor of production is fixed, and all are variable. Typically, this means that a firm expands by building or renting larger premises, purchasing or leasing new machinery and employing more workers
A whole industry enters the very long run when there is a significant change in the use of technology. For example, the widespread use of the internet to book holidays has drastically altered how the holiday industry is structured
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