What would be the potential impacts as China is banning American trash imports?

On July 18, China claimed that it would stop taking foreign shipments of waste goods, such as plastic and paper, from foreign countries.According to a Reuters report, China wrote in a statement to WTO that “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted.”

An BloombergView article said China has practiced imports of trash for more than 30 years, and it is a significant contributor to the rise of the Chinese economy. The Chinese environmental authorities estimate that more than 5,000 tons of garbage imported every year. The CNN Money calls it “a $5 billion annual business that is now in danger of sinking.” However, this is not a new trend. In 2013, the Chinese government launched “Operation Green Fence” Program to block imports of illegal and low-quality waste through improved inspections of container ships. In February 2017, Chinese customs officials initiated “National Sword” program to reduce illegal shipments of industrial and electronic waste. According to Resource Recycling Inc, in 2013, it costs about $2,100 per container that was rejected by China and shipped back to Los Angeles/Long Beach port.

The idea of shipping trash to China originates the balance of trading and maybe also the thought that the United States should not let empty ships going back China. Thus, America fills the return-trip containers with recycled cardboard boxes, waste paper and other trashes. The Economist said it is a double-win solution. It said America can earn a return from their waste, while China can have a constant supply of cheap recycled materials.

However, the issue is the quality of trash.

“We found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted China’s environment seriously,” China’s WTO filing said. The Chinese government criticized Americans for not separating trashes ahead , and the Chinese government said failing to handle trash separation in the United States increases pollution in China.

On the other side, the critics said most of the waste consumed by China’s recycling industry comes from domestic sources, not imports. Adam Minter, the author of “Junkyard Planet”, wrote in an article on BloombergView this July to argue that China’s government has long played up stories about foreign waste, partly to deflect attention from unmanageable garbage problems at home.

Who will be the loser in this trash ban? The answer is everyone, including China, America, the environment, and global economy.

It is for sure not a good news for Americans. Jeff Harwood, an Olympia-area recycling center manager in Washington,  tells Washington state’s KIRO-TV in 2013 that the problem is American does not have market for recycling goods. It is still true today. Minter claims that “on average roughly one-third of the stuff that’s tossed into U.S. recycling bins can’t be made into new products domestically.” Moreover, Winter wrote in his book that in Foshan, China, the salary of a recycling worker is 100 dollar per month plus rooms and boards. The cost of recycling process would be much more expensive in America. He also claimed that it is cheaper to ship trashes from America to China than to transport them from Los Angeles to Chicago through railway.

It also has potential to hurt Chinese economy. For China, The trade of trash imports is a more than half of the $1 billion a year business to recycling industry. Although China today is not as eager to recycling materials as it was decades ago, the ban still will drastically decreases the demand. Minter wrote in July that imported recyclables are cleaner than their Chinese counterparts, and banning them will force many Chinese recyclers to shut down and thousands of workers losing jobs. Moreover, recycling materials imported from America is also much cheaper than the ones in China. As the Chinese economy still heavily rely on manufacture, the ban might also causes the rise of goods.

The ban might could not even protect the environment or improve the public health. As China bans its trash imports, its 29 million tons of paper and 7 million tons plastic scrap still need to find place to go. They might end with landfill that does not have effective recycling ability as China has.

At the last, the ban will also affects the price of paper and plastic globally. It would be “chaotic for the global recycling industry,” said Bill Moore of Moore & Associates, an Atlanta-based paper recycling consultant.

“Mixed paper prices would plummet in the U.S., North America and in Western Europe because all the mixed paper we’re pumping out in residential [programs] would have no home,” Moore explained. “So that would be chaotic at the local government level, at the MRF level, at the collector level. It would be complete disruption.”

 

China Decides To Take Out The Trash, but At What Cost?

The world has a lot of recyclables, especially Americans. When I say a lot, I mean billions worth. According to Bloomberg, “by the mid-2000s, scrap paper was among the leading U.S. exports to China by volume.” China has been the largest importer of the world’s recycled goods for some time now as a result of the hunger it’s manufacturing boom caused. In order to feed the consumerist beast of The United States and others, China needs the scrap to keep up without breaking its bank. It is cheaper for China to import recycled scrap as opposed to making steel, paper, cardboard, etc. on their own so it seems like a win-win for the country. In July of 2017, China’s government announced it will stop eating up a majority of the world’s recyclables and will no longer be the world’s recycling bin. The government made this decision due to environmental concerns. Reuters reported that China told the World Trade Organization that in order “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted.”

The environmental concerns are outweighing the trade benefits for China and they have for some time time now. In 2013, according to The Economist, the Chinese government launched Operation Green Fence to try and lessen the amount of foreign, low-quality waste from entering the country. This new announcement by the Chinese government is proposing to cut off a majority of recyclable imports for the sake of the environment. China is facing a $5 billion loss in trade with this proposal according to a report by The Economist. As of 2016, Reuters stated that China imported $3.7 billion worth of waste. This decision to choke scrap imports will rattle the global economy significantly.

Not only will China be heavily affected, but the United States will be too. Exporting waste takes work and work means more American jobs. Bloomberg reported that 40,000 Americans have jobs due to the exportation of recyclables. When China blocks the trading of trash, about 40,000 Americans will be left without a job and the American landfills will fill back up. The cost is significant as well. There could be a trickle-down effect here into individual American homes as well. If it begins to cost too much for smaller recycling companies, or even some larger ones to pay for more workers or equipment, this could mean the separation of waste could fall directly on the individual. The loss of this huge benefit to the trade deficit between China and the United States will leave many cargo ships empty of exports to take back to China.

With that being said, the recycling market will remain afloat, but domestically and at a smaller scale. According to Dylan de Thomas, vice president of industry collaboration for the Recycling Partnership, “the really large waste and recycling companies have a vested interest in the recycled fiber and plastic markets.” Not only large companies, but the general public in the United States has a vested interest in recycling as well. Due to America’s own concern for the environment, we may only see a small effect on the American economy as whole, but only time will tell if the United States can pick up where China left off or have to figure out a new strategy.

 

The Unbalanced Pyramid: The Illicit Economy Behind China’s Lifting of One-Child Policy

Heralded as a powerhouse to propel the world into the future, China has long been regarded as having one of the most sound demographics to power its economy. Recently, the country has announced that it is lifting the controversial one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979 as a means to control the population at a time when China was still poor and undeveloped. However, remnant effects are being felt by the country in 21st century, in the form of a destabilized demographic.

What would happen when your family is told that you are only allowed one child, and in some cases at most one son after having a daughter, in a country where sons are traditionally viewed as being more virtuous than daughters?

(An old propaganda poster supporting One-Child Policy: “Executing the One-Child Policy Is A Part of the Country’s Foundamental Principles.”)

 

Some simple math will tell us that male babies born will outnumber the female ones, and this is exactly the problem Chinese Millennials and Gen Zs face as they approach adulthood. In his article, BC Cook outlined the threats he thinks the Chinese society faces as a result of the One-Child Policy. The most pronounced issue, he argues, is the problem of “online brides”, or brides from neighboring Asian countries who come over to be married to Chinese single men who cannot find a wife.

Now, online dating is not illegal, not even in China. “However,” Cook argues, “Chinese men finding foreign brides and starting families is exactly what the Chinese government was trying to avoid. So the one-child, male-only mandate from the government has backfired.”

On one hand, there is a markedly obvious imbalance in the “supply and demand” of domestic brides, as a direct result of the One-Child Policy. On the other, the Chinese philosopher Mengzi summarized in a proverb: “Dishonor to the family has three forms, and having no child is of the worst.”(不孝有三,无后为大)The Chinese traditional culture heavily focuses on the idea of continuing one’s lineage by starting one’s own family. To this day, this idea still permeates all levels of Chinese society. Where demand exists supply must be sought, and in this case, in the form of online brides from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

(“It sure would be nice to have a sibling, Mr. Xi!”)

Disregarding the ethical arguments, this aspect of the One-Child Policy’s remnant effects certainly has created social-political implications where the imbalance of a very sensitive supply-and-demand relationship sought balance elsewhere. “There is a limit to how much we can legislate human behavior,” summarized Cook, articulating his belief that the Chinese government has disrupted an instinctive economy of basic human needs.

It is very unlikely that the Chinese government will step in to regulate the online dating industry as a result, because online dating has created an in-demand economy across China. Still, the influx of foreign brides, many of whom are still undocumented, has most definitely created implications for the government.

Not only does supply create its own demand. Demand creates supply where necessary, too.

Trump’s Trade (Partial)Truth

I’ve trained myself to automatically assume that everything Donald Trump says is incorrect. It mitigates frustration and utter disbelief. It prioritizes my sanity. Most importantly, it causes me great surprise when he says something that is anything remotely near true. With Trump as our president, I keep Snopes bookmarked in my favorites bar.

One of Trump’s favorite hot topics is China. He called global warming a hoax created by China. He accused the U.S. of becoming at third-world country at the hands of China. He even tweeted that China did “NOTHING” to help the U.S. stop North Korea from creating nuclear weapons.

No matter how much I hate to admit it, though, President Trump’s take on trade with China does have an inkling of truth. In his 2017 Inaugural Address, he said:

“We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.”

While this is an extreme exaggeration, we should be careful not to brush it off as quickly as we do his take on global warming.

China, by all means, is a global powerhouse. However, it wasn’t always that way. For years and years, communist China had a downward-spiriling economy. But between 1991 and 2013, China’s exports increased from 2% of the world’s total to almost 20% (Freakonomics). The country transformed into a leading producer as a result of its plentitude of resources available and more importantly, its cheap labor. China was able to do this so quickly because of its sheer size and the massive potential amount of slack it had to pick up.

In the 1990’s, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach exploded in use due to China’s manufacturing transformation. The two ports combined currently do the most trade in the U.S. (Port of LA Communications). Jobs in shipping–working at the port, sorting, on trains, etc–all either kept or exceeded their current demand. The one part of the labor market that fell apart was manufacturing.

Globalization, trade amongst foreign countries, raises the GDP of the countries at stake. This is not without adverse distributional consequences, though. And one of its biggest dilemmas is labor.

China’s rapid production development is one of the best things to have happened to the U.S. middle class. Chinese workers are employed and producing items to be exported to other countries. People in the U.S. are happy because everything they buy is so much cheaper, thanks to the low financial cost of labor in China and the super low cost of streamlined shipping thanks to the invention of TEUs (Gabriel Kahn). The net effect of the U.S.-China trade relationship is good.

The loser is the manufacturing labor market, a potential reason for why we are currently living in a country with Donald Trump serving as president. With China producing things at such low costs, the need for low-skilled or unskilled manufacturing jobs in the United Stated became virtually nonexistent. Manufacturing workers were laid off in the masses, and plants closed throughout America. From 2000-2007, one million U.S. manufacturing jobs disappeared, 40% of which was attributable to China’s newfound success (Autor). Highly-skilled U.S. workers were just fine, but those who were educated at that level lost their work to cheap Chinese labor.

Those low-skilled manufacturing workers were now out of work and needed to costlessly reallocate to their next best opportunity. This was not easy to do because for the most part because their adaptation skills were poor, making reallocations unsuccessful. This had adverse effects on other labor markets, which served the manufacturing plants that went out of business. The wages of manufacturing jobs that did still exist were lowered because of the low cost of Chinese labor. Public transfer benefits such as medicare, medicaid, food stamps, etc., became more widely used because low-skilled workers were out of work, and their skills levels made it hard for them to reallocate without any costs.

China’s transformation into a country of mass exports adversely created job loss, wage depression, and increase in welfare spending for a particular portion of the United States: manufacturing workers who aren’t highly skilled. The growth of China into a powerhouse nation was as a majority a global good. However, much to Trump’s and my dismay, it also fully disrupted a U.S. labor market–manufacturing–for the worse.

The Dream of Being a Longshoreman

The Port of Los Angeles is the largest port in the United States. In 2016, 2,050 ships brought $272 billion worth of cargo to Los Angeles. The Port of LA is a crucial piece of importing manufactured goods from China.

A critical piece of this massive operation is the longshoremen, the workers who handle the loading and unloading of the ships in the port. The longshoremen and their union are so critical to port and its trade that they have the power to disrupt an entire supply chain. In 2002, during contract negotiations, the union essentially shut down the west coast ports as a leverage in their negotiation. This caused disruptions not only on the west coast but across the country where goods couldn’t be delivered and across the Pacific where the goods are made. This relatively small union has immense power over the import of goods in the United States.

Longshoreman jobs are coveted. Longshoreman can make more than $100,000 a year and receive free health care, but it is not easy to become a longshoreman. In order to get this dream of a blue collar job paying over $100k, you have to get into the dockworkers union, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

The first step to becoming a fully-fledged member of the union is winning the lottery. In order to get in the union, you have to become a “casual” worker. Casual workers do the same work as union longshoremen for less pay and benefits. To become a casual part-time worker you have to win a literal lottery. The longshoreman union held the first lottery, since 2004, for casual worker spots. This year 80,000 people entered the drawing and only 2,300 will be eligible for part dock work. They all entered with the dream of having the modern day unicorn, a high paying blue collar job. Just because they won the lottery, they aren’t guaranteed elevation to be a full union member.

TraPac Automated Terminal

As the Port of LA and other west coast ports become more automated, the number of dockworker jobs available will not go up. But they also will not go away entirely. Even in the automated terminals at the Port of LA, PAC, humans still have the operate the massive cranes that lift the containers off the ships. The need for the dockworkers will not go away, the demand will just decrease.

The longshoremen in Los Angeles are at the front of the globalized economy acting as gatekeepers of trade. They also have a what can feel like is missing in this globalized world, a well paying middle-class job.

 

Sources: 

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-dockworker-pay-20150301-story.html

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-port-lottery-20170127-htmlstory.html

http://www.dailybreeze.com/2017/06/02/longshoreman-lottery-results-announced-for-long-beach-la-ports-find-out-if-youre-on-the-list/

http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/06/05/72573/why-80k-people-applied-for-2-400-positions-at-la-s/

Climate change’s economic impact examined in new report

Climate change is not a concept accepted by everyone and certainly, not by President Donald Trump. But according to a recent study from a team of researchers for The Lancet, years of inaction battling climate issues negatively affected the economy and will continue to do so.

Data points to a massive sum of money spent due to the devastation caused by major weather events, like hurricanes and wildfires. An increase in natural disasters has been directly associated with the deteriorating climate.

“Between 2000-2016, there has been a 46 percent increase in the number of weather-related disasters,” the report stated.“Economic losses linked to climate-related extreme weather events were estimated at $129 billion in 2016.”

 

Those numbers represent 2016, not the even wilder hurricane season in 2017, which saw the damage of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, both record-breaking storms, likely costing more than $200 billion all together.

That price tag seems high, but it might be lower than it is officially tallied at, considering the cost of damage can continue to rise months following an event.  Below is a graph detailing the change in unemployment when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Even by June 2006, while the New Orleans employment sum had regained some of its losses, it was not near its previous stable condition.

Therefore, if you assume that costly hurricanes will be prevalent over the next decade or so due to climate change worsened by fossil fuels, then the economy will continue to have problems. Extreme weather has cost the U.S. economy an average of $240 billion per year, and now that total seems to be on the low end for what the future holds.

Sir Robert Watson, coauthor and director at the U.K’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, told National Geographic that natural disasters are not created by climate change, but noted the “intensity and frequency” of such occurrences have been made worse by hotter temperatures.

Obviously, fighting climate change to handle extreme weather starts with the knowledge that clean energy is necessary to adapt as soon and as quickly as possible.

But President Trump and EPA head Scott Pruitt don’t see a need for reducing risk, as the administration hopes to roll back Barack Obama’s standards on curbing carbon emissions in favor of coal production.

The coal industry, however, doesn’t seem like its making a comeback, which means it’s time to favor the environment by focusing on jobs created by renewable energy. These jobs are being created twice as fast as any other industry, via Quartz Media, and mainly include solar and wind installers. The solar industry itself generated roughly 260,000 jobs for Americans in 2016.

Eight of the 10 states where solar jobs grew the fastest voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, per CBS, and in Oklahoma, Alaska and Nebraska, solar energy workers grew by 100 percent from 2015 to 2016.

So it seems in four years, Trump won’t be able to single handedly destroy the environment. More people have come to understand the value of renewable energy, which is needed to slow climate change and protect our planet from volatile weather incidents.

Brexit Trade Implications: What Now?

Following the referendum held on Thursday, June 23, 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union, the entire world questioned what Britain’s exit from the EU would actually entail for British – and global – businesses. While there are many moving parts still up in the air, one thing is certain: Britain will have to reach a new trade agreement with the European Union. This task will be highly complex and be carried out under the immense pressure of a two-year deadline.

 

Once the United Kingdom’s formal decision to leave the European Union was notified to the European council of EU leaders, under article 50 of the Libson treaty, the UK was given a formal notice of leave from the EU. Article 50 demands a two-year timeframe for the UK to renegotiate a new legal basis for trade relationships with the remainder of the EU (however, it does enable an extension if needed).

 

The trade discussions must consider the framework for exporting and importing goods, like food and cars, two very important imports and exports for the UK, and the basis for continued services trade, such as legal advice on a big company takeover to and from the EU. Britain’s trade negotiations also must ponder changes to customs procedures, passport controls for business travel, and regulation on safety standards, health and environmental issues.

 

All the aforementioned decisions, however, are contingent upon whether or not Britain undergoes a “hard” or “soft” Brexit, said BBC News.  Hard and soft are terms that were used increasingly in  debates focused on the circumstances of the UK’s departure from the EU. While there is no concrete definition for either term, they are commonly used to refer to the closeness of the UK’s continued relationship with the EU following Brexit. On one end of the spectrum, a “hard” Brexit would entail the UK refusing to comprise on issues like the free movement of people, even if it meant leaving the single market. On the other extreme, a “soft” Brexit would more closely resemble Norway, which holds a single market (as opposed to a common market with free trade) and is forced to accept the free movement of people as a result.

 

According to The Guardian, it will be challenging for the UK to pull off a trade deal in a meager two years, particularly if the option of joining the European Economic Area (EEA) is pursued, but the British government is hesitant to accept any freedom of movement as a quid pro quo.

 

While the entire idea behind Brexit is to instill change within the British government and trade policies, John Forrest, the head of internal trade at DLA Piper law firm told The Guardian, he did not think having the UK continue carrying on trading with the EU under the same free movement principles is out of the question. “…that means freedom of movement for goods, people and capital between the UK and EU will continue to operate.” For the millions of people who campaigned and voted for leaving the EU on that Thursday in June of 2016, this possibility will be a tough pill to swallow.

 

How to choose ocean versus air shipping (hint: ocean usually wins)

Let’s start with the numbers.

The Port of Los Angeles moves the most containers of any port in the world, carrying 182.8 million metric tons of freight. Nearby Los Angeles International Airport moved 2.1 million tons of cargo in 2016.

Maersk is the world’s largest shipping company, with more than 16 percent of market share, 15 percent of all sea freight capacity, and 652 ships.

FedEx operates the world’s largest air freight business, moving 15.8 billion metric ton-kilometers’ worth of cargo on 657 planes from more than 375 airports.

You’ll notice that the sea freight business is significantly larger than air freight. But why?

Today’s newest and largest cargo ships can carry a lot more stuff a lot more efficiently. The OOCL Hong Kong, currently the largest, has a capacity of more than 21,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). Ship sizes have increased dramatically in recent decades — back in 2003, OOCL’s newest and largest ship carried barely 8,000 TEUs, which was then the most in the world.

A freighter plane, by comparison, can only carry about 4 TEUs at once.

In addition to these economies of scale, ocean shipping is significantly better for the environment and a great deal more fuel efficient. Each metric ton shipped by cargo ship produces about 15 grams of CO2 — less than 3 percent of the 545 grams per metric ton created with air travel.

But perhaps most importantly, sea freight costs less: about $195 for what would cost $1,000 to ship by air. For global corporations shipping millions of goods around the world, small differences in marginal shipping cost can make a big difference to the bottom line.

For certain goods like smartphones, where the security of shipping is important and marginal costs are easily passed on to the consumer, air travel is the way to go. This is also true for items that need to move quickly, like perishable food, seasonal clothing, or holiday toys.

But most goods going most places are best shipped one way: on a boat.

Debt Creates a Double Win-or-Lose Bond Between China and America, Even No Chance to Pay Back

That “China owns the U.S. National Debt” has become an universal knowledge for American people, being taught from the lower school to the university. How does this debt relationship work? Will America ever pay off its debt? Why is China willing to keep borrowing to the United States?

The U.S. National debt exceeded $20 trillion on September 8, 2017, surpassing the American gross GDP. Based on the data as of May 2017, China has cut its American foreign debt holding to $1.102 trillion, no longer holding the largest portion. With $1.111 trillion, Japan now has become the No.1 U.S. debt holding country.

Owning U.S. Treasury notes benefits China by increasing the demand of U.S. dollar and so decreasing the value of RMB (as the Dollar-to-Yuan conversion increases) . Thus. Chinese exports are cheaper than those of America. Consequently, Chinese cheap exports gain global market and produce more jobs opportunity for Chinese people. The strategy of devaluing RMB led Chinese economy to grow 10 percent annually for the past three decades.  On the other side, American people can enjoy lower consuming prices and lower interest rates. American economy also grows.

Will America ever pay off its debt to China? Probably never. There are three paths for America to pay back its debt: cutting spending, raising taxes, and boosting GDP. Unfortunately, there is not much in American budget to cut to save $1.102 trillion. It would terminate any politician’s career to raise tax for paying off Chinese debt. Boosting GDP is far more difficult to execute than to say.

However, such double-win situation might not last longer. Since the Chinese government purposefully decreases the value of RMB, the Chinese businessmen are hurt by the interest rate. They start to take loans in dollars or invest outside, leaving cash flowing out of China. Moreover, the Chinese government has asserts its voice in the global market through this low-value RMB process. The Chinese government ambitiously aims to replace RMB to Dollars as the global reserve. On November 30, 2015, the International Monetary Fund awarded the RMB status as a reserve currency. The IMF added the RMB to its Special Drawing Rights basket on Oct 1, 2016. At last, that the American government allows the value of dollar to drop made the debt China holds less valuable.

As China begins to sell parts of debt out, the situation is shifting to a double-lose. American interest rate would rise, and the economic growth slows. The Chinese exports also loses competitiveness.

The anxiety is not necessary. China would not sell all or large amount of U.S. debt at one time because it will drastically devalue dollars and ruin the international market. The American and Chinese economy will still be bonded together through this tremendous debt for a long time.

Sources:

https://www.thebalance.com/dollar-to-yuan-conversion-and-history-3306089

https://www.thebalance.com/national-debt-by-year-compared-to-gdp-and-major-events-3306287

https://www.thebalance.com/will-the-u-s-debt-ever-be-paid-off-3970473

https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-debt-to-china-how-much-does-it-own-3306355

https://www.thebalance.com/yuan-reserve-currency-to-global-currency-3970465

Is Amazon the Retail Apocalypse?

Do you remember where you were on June 12, 2017? I certainly do; I was riding a very delayed 1 train on the New York City Subway Red Line to the 59th Street stop just two blocks from my office. With the fear of being late to work driving my actions, I omitted my morning coffee from Starbucks and ran to the 9th floor of my building. I was greeted by a too-quiet office in which each one of my co-workers’ eyes were glued to the television screens playing CNBC. The bold chyron stating, “Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods” at the bottom of the screen silenced me faster than I could regain my breath.

 

The implied monopoly of Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods provides a tremendous threat to brick-and-mortar retailers. Following the announcement that Amazon was buying the mega health food chain, stock prices of top grocery stores all declined. Shares of Kroger, the parent company of Ralphs and Food4Less supermarket chains, were down 14.41% to $21.02. Target and Costco shares fell 9.7% to $50.08 and 6.83% to $167.77 respectively.

 

Meanwhile, thousands of Whole Foods employees began to ponder whether Amazon’s inclination for automation would result in their jobs being replaced by robots.  Amazon’s ability to cause such a resounding effect on the stock market after the announcement of a proposed acquisition, while simultaneously intimidating suppliers and competitors, highlight’s their dominance in the economy.

 

Wall Street Investors are placing large wagers that Amazon and the new fast fashion trend will knock out numerous stores in the next months and years to come.

 

Traditionally, the retail industry has been admonished by the stock market. This assertion is supported by Bespoke Investment Group’s stats on the average percentage of shares that investors are shorting, or essentially betting against. Fortunately for investors and unfortunately for retail companies and employees, this retail short sale has been a winning trade.

 

Insipid sales stemming from low investor confidence has resulted in hundreds of store closures, bankruptcies, and countless layoffs. On average, 15.6% of shares among retailers are being shorted, which, by the Street’s standards, is very high.

 

The investors of Wall Street are not the only demographic to blame, as many Americans favor the ease and hassle-free experience of online shopping as opposed to taking trips to local malls. Meanwhile, the brick-and-mortar stores that have survived are struggling to compete with fast fashion-modeled stores like H&M and Zara. Due to this blatant shift in consumer behavior, Wall Street experts have grown exceptionally bearish when it comes to investing in multiline retailers, including general merchandise chains like Kohls and department stores like Macy’s.

 

The impending apocalypse for the brick-and-mortar stores isn’t here just yet, though. Some retail giants have maintained their dominance in the industry; take Best Buy, for example. Many consumers and investors alike feared the Technology and Electronics chain would be quickly overpowered by Amazon; however, Best Buy’s stock is up 37% and is actually outperforming the online shopping megastore.