Why you’ll get your next electronic device from Asia

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When you look at the huge crowds for the Women’s Marches everywhere, notice the seas of pink hats. Most are hand knitted or hand crocheted by marchers and their friends and supporters. It takes maybe four hours to knit a hat. Those seas represent tens of thousands of hours of commitment.

My response:

For every hour that an American spent knitting a hat or marching with an Asian-fabbed mobile phone in his or her pocket there was a corresponding Chinese, Taiwanese, or Korean citizen who spent the same hour studying semiconductor physics and integrated circuit fabrication.

I wonder where my next SSD will come from… (2014 fab capacity, by country; boring stats: there were more than 5 million engineering students in China in 2013, with the number doubling every 10 years)

Separately, my Facebook feed is full of people gloating that Barack Obama attracted larger crowds for his inauguration than Donald Trump did. But might this simply reflect the fact that Trump supporters have to work on a weekday? (the Federal government and D.C.-area schools shut down on inauguration days, so Democrats with government jobs are free to come down to the Mall without taking a vacation day; roughly 95 percent of federal employees supported Clinton)

Finally, the march here in Boston seems to have proved Donald Trump correct regarding the incompetence of U.S. local, state, and federal government. Despite soaking up 40-50 percent of GDP, the government couldn’t adapt to the forecast demand for transportation today by, e.g., adding extra trains. A guy (of course it was a guy!) from our suburb who had wanted to participate watched the commuter train, completely full, drive through the local station without stopping. He then tried to drive to Alewife and catch the Red Line but turned back when confronted by a multi-mile traffic jam. Was the challenge actually insurmountable? Supposedly there were roughly 100,000 people demonstrating in Boston. If half of them were residents of Boston/Cambridge that means 50,000 came into the city on this Saturday; the number of inbound commuters on a typical weekday in 2012 was 787,000 (Boston Globe).

Related:

  • this recent New Yorker article on how transit project costs to the U.S. taxpayer are “often five to six times higher here than in other developed countries.”

14 Comments

  1. billg

    January 22, 2017 @ 1:07 am

    1

    > gloating that Barack Obama attracted larger crowds for his inauguration than Donald Trump

    Some of the “fake news” media posted a picture of the mall in at 8:00am before the crowds had arrived, then reported small crowds compared to Obama’s crowds at 11:00am. Source: https://i.imgur.com/yLnBcr5.png

    The DC metro says it had 420k passengers on the day of The Donald’s inauguration vs 317k on Obama’s in 2009. Source: https://youtu.be/Z3c8Fh8FdGI?t=140s

  2. billg

    January 22, 2017 @ 1:24 am

    2

    > When you look at the huge crowds for the Women’s Marches everywhere

    Yeah, look at the supporters on their way to Yemen to march for women’s rights: https://i.redd.it/z8dk07fgd6by.jpg

  3. Tom

    January 22, 2017 @ 7:33 am

    3

    1. “Trump is like so vulgar!”
    2. Marches around with pussy hat.

    OK then.

  4. Bill

    January 22, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

    4

    Phil.

    Chip fabs are really just 21st Century steel plants. They are not driven by people but by money and business cases and the willingness to buy the latest fab tools. And right now the USA has 47% market share for fab tools. See below. The real risk is China and friends are building so many fabs that they will take over the tool business in 20 years.

    http://trade.gov/topmarkets/pdf/semiconductors_top_markets_report.pdf

  5. Bill

    January 22, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

    5

    The real risk to the US in the future is that no US company is manufacturing solar cells or lithium/nimh batteries. These are the important new 21st century things that will drive the world in the next 20-50 years.

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/04/2015-top-ten-pv-cell-manufacturers.html

    https://oilandenergyinvestor.com/special-reports-video/battery-stocks-best-way-invest-holy-grail-energy-storage/

    http://evobsession.com/ev-battery-manufacturer-sales-market-share-march-2015/

  6. Jackie

    January 22, 2017 @ 2:40 pm

    6

    Wow, the US still has 15% of chip fab capacity! That’s more than I expected. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before that gets driven down to zero (Europe has 2%). Probably a lot of the US made stuff goes into military hardware where there are “buy American” requirements.

  7. Jackie

    January 22, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

    7

    Trump clearly has no intention of staying silent when the media tries to beat him down. Whether the stories about smaller crowds at the inauguration are true or false, it’s clear that they were motivated by a desire to belittle and delegitimize Trump. Same with all the stories about Russia influencing the election. The press would prefer that they were the only ones with a megaphone – that’s why they get so upset at Trump’s tweeting.

    The Democrats (and the MSM – same thing) want to deprive Trump of whatever mandate he can claim – thus the demonstrations yesterday, the emphasis on the popular vote, Russia, small crowds, etc. They lost the White House and both houses of Congress and the possibility of shifting the balance on the Supreme Court and most state houses, but they want to take back what they lost at the ballot box in the streets and in the press.

    That being said, Trump needs to know when he is being baited and not fall for the bait every time.

  8. SuperMike

    January 22, 2017 @ 4:53 pm

    8

    I was shocked to find out how little difference manufacturing Iphones in the U.S. would make in their cost. Makes you think that the free-traders might have sold us a bill of goods. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601491/the-all-american-iphone/ Would you pay ~15% more for consumer goods if if meant a fully revitalized manufacturing sector?

  9. Bill

    January 22, 2017 @ 5:06 pm

    9

    Jackie and others. You are missing a GREAT big point. The wafer capacity means nothing with regard to chip sales. China builds stuff all the time that does not get used. They waste money. Our fabs are the more efficient with better yields and 24/7 better utilizations. So our 15% US fabs provide 50% of the worlds chips. See the report above on page 8. Yep that is why Intel and Qualcom and others make so much profit. See below on page 8 chart.

    http://trade.gov/topmarkets/pdf/semiconductors_top_markets_report.pdf

  10. Bill

    January 22, 2017 @ 5:12 pm

    10

    The issue with doing manufacturing in the US is not cost in many cases . It is quality. China and Japan and Taiwan (and now Korea) get it re 5 sigma. Most US workers have no idea what 5 sigma is nor the discipline to work hard to deliver good quality.

  11. Sam

    January 22, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

    11

    SuperMike – I prefer to buy well-made, long-lasting products. If that means Made in USA, all the better.

  12. Jackie

    January 22, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

    12

    Bill – the chart that shows the US with a 50% share states : ” Share based on headquarters of seller” – in other words, all of Intel’s worldwide production gets counted as US.

  13. Tiago

    January 23, 2017 @ 7:57 am

    13

    billg, Spicer is a professional liar and pretty bad at it. The numbers from DC metro were actually 570,557 people used the DC metro on Trump’s inauguration day, and 782,000 for Obama’s second inauguration (see
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/21/media/sean-spicer-press-secretary-statement).

    Those people saying it doesn’t matter, “both sides have a point”, “it’s debatable”, and so on, are really missing the point. Yes, Trump is being baited and falling for it, but the willingness and ease to lie on such an inconsequential (and verifiable) matter casts a really dark shadow into any future action from the WH. Any number coming from this administration will have to be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

  14. Serpicojam

    January 23, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

    14

    This, in addition to certain current events, leads me to believe it might be a good time to revisit the notion of education in the U.S.

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