Toy Icon Toys’R Us Is Wrapping It Up

16 Mar 2018

Toys “R” Us shutting U.S. stores, liquidating inventory – CBS, 2018/03/15

Toys “R” Us is going out of business in the U.S. The iconic chain announced early Thursday that it’s seeking bankruptcy court approval to start closing its 735 U.S. stores and liquidating their inventory.

Some 33,000 employees will lose their jobs as a result.

Toys “R” Us, which declared bankruptcy in September, was unable to convince creditors to refinance its more than $5 billion in debt, a crushing load that experts say hampered its ability to adapt to the growth in online shopping, among other consumer trends.

The chain was hobbled by debt stemming from the 2005 leveraged buyout by KKR, Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO). That deal placed it at disadvantage against larger rivals such as Amazon (AMZN), Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT), which have made inroads in the toy market in recent years.

Toys “R” Us closing leaves workers, customers hanging – CBS, 2018/03/15

The company’s current leadership only compounded its mistakes by failing to act quickly and decisively. One example: When Toys “R” Us first declared bankruptcy in September, CEO Dave Brandon vowed not to close any stores, blithely remarking that “today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys “R” Us.” He was wrong.

The bankruptcy filing doesn’t cover Toys “R” Us’ international business, but it’s struggling, too. The company’s U.K. business on Wednesday announced that it is closing its doors after failing to find a buyer — about 3,000 people will lose their jobs. Toys “R” Us is considering combining as many as 200 of its top-performing U.S. stores with its Canadian operations, but Selbst said that would be complicated, expressing doubt it will fly.


Steel, Tariffs, Trade War – Beyond Trump #2

7 Mar 2018

This is good info, before we started penalizing Chinese steel in 2016, on how these unfair trade practices persists. There is much more at the link.

Surging Steel Imports Put Up To Half a Million U.S. Jobs at Risk – Economic Policy Institute, 2014/05/13

The U.S. steel industry is facing its worst import crisis in more than a decade. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, steelmakers in other countries, backed by aggressive government support, continued to add production capacity as demand stagnated. The open and large U.S. market became the prime target for the massive excess supply stemming from this excess capacity, and, since 2011, U.S. steel imports have surged and import unit values have plummeted.

Surging imports of unfairly traded steel are threatening U.S. steel production, which supports more than a half million U.S. jobs across every state of the nation. The import surge has depressed domestic steel production and revenues, leading to sharp declines in net income in the U.S. steel industry over the past two years (2012–2013), layoffs for thousands of workers, and reduced wages for many more.

So what I am understanding is that the Chinese (primarily, and probably a couple of other countries) is trying to undercut the market, wipe out international competition, and increase their world market share. They are flooding the steel market with excess supply which lowers prices. Many of these Chinese steel producers are owned or controlled by the government, and received government subsidies. So they have they money of the entire national at their disposal to flood the market.

So what I am seeing with these tariffs are protection and support for the steel producers in the country.  While at the same time, there will be some pain for those on the back end, who purchase the steel to make their products.  Hopefully the pain will be for the short term.


U.S. Steel follows tariff promise with plans to restart Illinois furnace – Pittsbugh Post Gazette, 2018/03/07

U.S. Steel announced Wednesday that it will restart one of two blast furnaces and the steelmaking facilities at its Granite City Works in Illinois, recalling about 500 employees.

The mill restart comes on the heels of President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that he would seeking tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Getting the mill running again could take up to four months, the company said.

Steel, Tariffs, Trade War – Beyond Trump

7 Mar 2018

If you are interested in the issue, beyond using it as leverage to bash Trump, here is more info…

The Problem With U.S. Tariffs On Steel And Aluminum That No One Is Talking About – Forbes, 2018/03/05

Critics of the U.S. action have enumerated a number of reasons for concern, including the possibility of tit-for-tat retaliation from impacted trade partners, a further weakening of the WTO, domestic economic distortions in the U.S. as a narrow industry is protected at the expense of downstream producers, and ultimately, higher prices for consumers.

Most of these points have at least some validity, and some are entirely valid. All should be carefully weighed.

But at the same time there is another side to this coin which doesn’t receive as much attention. The simple fact of the matter is that a number of countries are undeniably engaging in unfair and even predatory trade practices in the steel and aluminum sectors which are damaging to their trade partners.

To put the magnitude of the overcapacity issue in perspective: experts maintain that the world needs about 400 million tons of excess steel capacity. Today, we have roughly 730 million tons. About half of that is in China, which has grown to be the world’s largest steel producer.

So Trump may be fighting a larger issue that goes beyond the simple relationship with other countries and the immediate impact that this would have on jobs.

Back in 2016, we put a bunch of duties and levies on Chinese steel because of their strategy to create an advantage for themselves by overproducing and lowering prices. The EU did the same thing last year.

China produces half of the world’s steel, and we now have an oversupply that’s almost double. If no action is taken, then they could likely increase their share of the world’s steel market and wipe out much of the international competition. Because of the levies and duties, we only import around 2% of our steel from China. However, they still import steel to all of the other countries and that has an effect on the global market.

There is going to be pain one way or another. Jobs would be impacted if the Chinese corner the overwhelming majority of the steel market. Jobs will be impacted if we rock the boat with these tariffs. It seems like the tariffs takes the short term pain now approach, instead of the long term pain of the Chinese cornering the market and forcing international steel producers out of business.

I am not an expert on this… I am just researching to understand the issue.

Think You Want To Make A Career on YouTube… Think Again

5 Mar 2018

‘Success’ on YouTube Still Means a Life of Poverty – Bloomberg, 2018/02/27

96.5 percent of all of those trying to become YouTubers won’t make enough money off of advertising to crack the U.S. poverty line, according to research by Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg.

Breaking into the top 3 percent of most-viewed channels could bring in advertising revenue of about $16,800 a year, Bärtl found in an analysis for Bloomberg News.

The top 1 percent of creators garnered from 2.2 million to 42.1 million views per month in 2016, Bärtl’s research shows. Those top-tier performers often earn side money through sponsorships or other deals, so calculating their earnings is more complicated.

YouTube’s ad rates are opaque and have changed over time, but Bärtl used an income of $1 per 1,000 views for an average YouTuber to calculate his earnings estimates. That rate is a good rule of thumb, said Harry Hugo of the Goat Agency, an influencer marketing firm in London. “I’ve seen as low as 35¢ per 1,000 views and work with some YouTubers who can earn $5 per 1,000,” he said.

News millennials can use…

Mike Rowe on Jobs, Minimum Wages

31 May 2017

Mike Rowe, formerly of “Dirty Jobs,” talks jobs and minimum wages. This is good, solid, common sense.

Unemployment Benefit Claims Decrease by 2,000

16 Mar 2017

US claims for unemployment benefits slip by 2,000Associated Press

Applications for jobless benefits slipped by 2,000 to 241,000 after claims had risen by 20,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Two weeks ago claims had fallen to a 44-year low of 223,000. The four-week average, which is less volatile, rose by 750 last week to 237,250.

UC San Francisco: IT Workers Train Foreign Replacements

2 Mar 2017

Public university lays off 79 IT workers after they train outsourced replacementsArs Technica

At the University of California’s San Francisco campus, 79 IT employees lost their jobs this week, some of them after explaining to their replacements at Indian outsourcing firm HCL how to do their jobs.

In its statement on the matter, UCSF says that it was pushed to hire outside contractors due to “increased demand for information technology and escalating costs for these services.” The university says it will save more than $30 million by hiring HCL, after seeing IT costs nearly triple between 2011 and 2016, “driven by the introduction of the electronic medical record and increased digital connectivity.”

Trump has a couple of bills regarding this going through Congress.