Thursday, April 06, 2006

Always Bad Economics, Always

It cracks me up whenever someone comes up with these hysterical attacks on WalMart. Now we have the President of the AFL-CIO (no, he isn't biased) attacking WalMart, for of all things, bad port security. He includes this little tidbit:

The successes of Wal-Mart are made doubly dangerous by the shift of manufacturing work from the United States to developing countries. Twenty years ago, Wal-Mart bought only 6 percent of its merchandise overseas. Today, "Wal-Mart and China are a joint venture, and both are determined to dominate the U.S. economy as much as they can in a wide range of industries," Duke University professor Gary Geriffi told PBS's "Frontline."

Nearly two-thirds of all Wal-Mart products come from China, Geriffi said. Most of the rest comes from 70 other countries, including Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia, where there's a dangerous cocktail of workers' rights abuses and lax enforcement, official corruption and active terrorist organizations.

OK, aside from the fact that he can't spell Gary Gereffi's name right, how is he coming up with these numbers? Maybe this is correct if you are just counting SKUs, but if you look at the sales numbers, it is not even close. As of Jan 2004, WalMart imported about $15 billion from China. A large number no doubt, but if you look at its income statement, that was out of $199 billion of merchandise. Or about... 8%.

Duke University professor Gary Geriffi by the way, is a professor, not of business or economics, but of sociology.