Inspired Economist: Pick of the Week

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This column highlights the top economic stories of the week.

One way in which today’s corporation is becoming enlightened to the fact that green manufacturing CAN equal more profitable manufacturing is through a new concept called “lean manufacturing“.   In the 1980’s, JIT, or just-in-time techniques became all the rage in management circles as they shaved costs from production by eliminating the need for high levels of inventories by focusing on using just what was needed, when it was needed. More on this story here.

Economists are examining the argument for imposing special taxes on goods and services whose prices do not reflect the true social cost of their consumption, are now considering a tax on junk food. But while it might seem obvious and logical, some argue that a tax on junk food might even increase obesity, especially among the physically active. More on this story here.

Does Cause Marketing thwart social change? In the “The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing” in the Summer issue of theStanford Social Innovation Review, Angela M. Eikenberry argues that cause marketing is “consumption philanthropy,” connecting shopping with a social good, whereas high-levels of consumption in the developed world could be hurting philanthropists’ efforts to save rain forests, fisheries, etc. And it may be counterproductive in increasing empathy for people in need and a sense of responsibility to help. More on this story here.

China’s economy grew nearly 8% in the second quarter of 2009, the government said, in a stunning turnaround for the Asian powerhouse that offered some hope for the rest of the world. Analysts said the rebound in China would offer a boost of confidence for the global economy as it struggles out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. To fight the downturn, the government had begun implementing an internal infrastructure stimulus package that invest heavily in renewable energy.  More on this story here.

Hollywood has unleashed a new wave of disaster films that focus on what will happen after the apocalypse. But even when they tackle serious issues, most of the new disaster movies and TV shows take pains to avoid moralizing, which can be toxic at the box office. Issue-oriented films, such as “In the Valley of Elah,” starring Tommy Lee Jones, and Tom Cruise’s “Lions For Lambs,” have tended to fare poorly with audiences. More on this story here.

Much like California, Guangdong province in Southern China, is the incubator of a large, innovative and dynamic economy far from Beijing and Shanghai, China’s centres of political and financial power. With an official population of 95.4m, it leads the country in economic output and exports, though the latter have fallen about 20 per cent from pre-crisis levels. The Chinese Communist party’s leader, Wang Yang, uses this as an opportunity to carve a cleaner and greener Guangdong. More on this story here.

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