Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Can Making Quality Control Improvements -- Especially in Durable Goods -- Reduce Manufacturing Jobs?

If we buy it, and it lasts a long time, are we killing the jobs we think we need? Should we make stuff crappier?

Chevy Bolt: Quality control way up, car good for 10 years or more?

Paul Krugman dropped a tweet with a graphic that made me think:

If Germany, with the largest trade surplus in the world, is losing manufacturing jobs, there could be a number of explanations. One, the global economy is inching down; two, robots are replacing humans; three, quality control is making products so good -- as they do in Germany -- that people keep them for a long time.

By the way, I have two VWs, a Krup coffee grinder, a Braun grinder from 40 years ago that I use for spices, a 30-year-old Norelco shaver (okay, that's Dutch, but same difference). Lots of other products I have are Japanese because quality, too.

Not much more to say, except growth is overrated. I get that population goes up, so consumption should go up, so GDP should go up. But if we're getting better at things, we shouldn't get weird about slower growth.

Now, a smaller share going to the lower quintiles, well, that's another subject. Basic quaranteed income, anyone?

Note. We may be making more things better with better means of production -- sans humans -- leaving lots of people left over to sell each other strudel and bratwurst. Verstahen Sie?

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