Tag Archives: Asia

Panasonic Quietly Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

Attitudes towards expansion of certain types of worker’s rights, such as same-sex marriage, do not get the same kind of wide-spread support in Japan as they do in the United States. In a move that is out of step with the prevailing cultural and business attitudes held in Japan, Panasonic has, albeit quietly, recognized the legitimacy of same-sex partnerships.

Panasonic decision is highly unusual, and although it is bold, it is unlikely to be the beginning of a new trend in Asia. “Coming out” is highly problematic in countries like China, South Korea and the Philippines, as well as much of the rest of Asia. Not only do the individuals coming out face extreme ridicule, their families also have to endure abuse and even ostracism.

Lenny Sanicola, an expert on employee benefits policy at a Washington DC-based non-profit called WorldatWork, thought Panasonic’s low-key approach to their announcement was a mistake. He said that “Panasonic would be a pioneer in Japan,” if they would announce their new policy loud and clear to the entire world. The message they would project would show that the company placed a high value on diversity, thus attracting younger talent to Japan, a country that is aging quickly.

Sanicola added that it is just a matter of time until the Asian countries adopt the same position as that held in Europe and North America.

Oasis Investments Limited: Asian Markets Soar As They Enter 2013

Asian markets have seen significant gains since the beginning of 2013, with dozens of investment companies and financial firms jumping on the bandwagon to benefit from the region’s recovering economies.

This Friday’s reports revealed that Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average rose 2.9%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index increased 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite grew as well.

According to the Nikkei business daily, the central bank plans to add around $110 billion to its asset-purchasing program. Reportedly, this will be the first time that the Bank of Japan eases in two consecutive meetings in nearly a decade.

Meanwhile, Taro Aso, the Japanese Minister of Finance, has stated that the Bank of Japan and the government have not yet reached a set inflation target. Analysts believe the bank will be willing to set a 2% inflation goal, instead of the current 1% target.

Still, the region’s broader market has maintained its former levels despite recent developments. According to Andrew Sullivan, a market commentator based in Hong Kong, this is “partly due to the fact that a lot of retail money is tied up in IPOs, and institutional money is focusing on Japan as the yen weakens.”

Manufacturing Sees Shift from Asia Back to USA

Ironic Economics

In what some analysts see as a bit of economic irony, there is a slow but steady in the manufacture certain products away from Asia and back to North America.

“What you’re starting to see is the economics shifting more into the United States’ favor regarding sourcing from the United States versus sourcing from a low-cost country,”

said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a Washington trade group.

The irony is that it is precisely because the US is going through a slow economic period and China and India are experiencing brisk growth as their emerging economies surge that help US manufacturers to minimize the cost gap between them and their Asian rivals.

Wage Gap Closing

According to one consulting group it is even possible that by the year 2015 labor costs in China and the US could achieve parity. If the present Chinese inflation rate of 5.5% continues while the US maintains the lower 3.6% rate of inflation, and if Chinese wages continue rise at the present 15- 20 percent, then wages in the US and China could very well be indistinguishable.

Efficiency Helping US

In Milwaukee, at the Master Lock factory, the shift back to “made in the USA” is already happening in full force. Just two years ago the lock-making machinery there was only running a few hours a day because it was cheaper to order padlocks from China rather than making them at home.

Today the lock-making machine is running at a whirlwind pace seven days a week and three shifts per day. How can this be when wages are six times higher in the US than in China? The answer is because of superior efficiency. In Milwaukee locks are produced thirty times faster than in the factories in China, which more than makes up for the wage gap.

“I can manufacture combination locks in Milwaukee for less of a cost than I can in China,”

said Bob Rice, a senior vice president at the largest U.S. padlock manufacturer.

In the past two years Bob Rice has added about 80 workers to his workforce, which totals 440 at the moment, and could very well continue to rise. A good sign for the future of US manufacturing.

Stepan Profits From Supplying Manufacturers Worldwide

Stepan Company (SCL) manufacturers and markets chemical ingredients to manufacturers in several industries around the world. Stepan sells ingredients for cleaning, personal hygiene, lubricating , plastics, biodiesel products etc. It also sells polyols that are used to produce insulation board for construction in addition to many other chemical products used in the automotive, boating pharmaceutical and food industries.

The company was founded in 1932 and today employs over 1,500 people. It manufactures and sells to manufactures in North and South America, Asia and Europe. In June the company “acquired Clarinol, Marinol and Pinnothin product lines from the Lipid Nutrition B.V.company which is a subsidiary of Loders Croklaan B.V. “

Stepan has good financial statements and also good revenue growth. The Stock has continues to be strong in spite of the world financial upheavals. I believe that is because the company provides intermediate ingredients for products that are considered basic necessities rather than luxury products. The company has also been distributing quarterly dividends for over 5 years.

The VP and CFO is James E. Hurlbutt who has been with the company since 1996. Mr. Hurlbutt has worked his way up from International Controller and Tax Accounting Head to Company Controller to VP of Finance to becoming the CFO in 2008. The current VP of Corporate Controller is Matthew J Eaken. These two officers are doing a good job keeping the company on course during these financially volatile times.