Posts tagged ‘Oreos’

Don’t Fear the Free Trade Boogeyman


Are you having trouble falling asleep because of a ghostly nightmare? Donald Trump, along with a wide range of pundits and investors have been afraid of globalization and the free trade boogeyman. Donald Trump may or may not win the presidential election, but regardless, his inflammatory rhetoric regarding trade is way off base.

Free trade has been demonized as a job destroyer, however history paints a different picture. I have written on the subject before (see also Invisible Benefits of Free Trade), but with Americans digesting the current debates and the election only a month away, let me make a couple of key points.

Standard of Living Benefits: For centuries, the advantages of free trade and globalization have lifted the standards of living for billions of people. There is a reason the World Trade Organization (WTO) has united more than 160 countries without one country exiting since the global trade group began in 1948. Trade did not suddenly stop working when the Donald began lashing out against NAFTA, TPP and Oreo cookies. Trump rails against trade despite Trump ties being made in China.

Job losses are easy to identify (like the Oreo jobs moved to Mexico from Chicago), but most trade benefits are often invisible to the untrained eye. As Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute explains, if low-wage labor was not used offshore to manufacture products sold to Americans, many amazing and spectacular products and services would become unaffordable for the U.S. mass markets. Thanks to cheaper foreign imports, not only can a wider population buy iPhones and use services like Uber and Airbnb, but consumers will have extra discretionary income resources that can be redeployed into savings. Alternatively, the extra savings could be spent on other goods and services to help spur U.S. economic growth in various sectors of our nation.

It doesn’t make for a nice, quick political soundbite, but Ikenson highlights,

“The benefits of trade come from imports, which deliver more competition, greater variety, lower prices, better quality, and new incentives for innovation.”


Strong Companies Hire and Grow: Plain and simply, profitable businesses hire employees, and money-losing companies fire employees. Business success boils down to competitiveness. If your product is not better and/or cheaper than competitors, then you will lose money and be forced into stagnation, or worse, be forced to fire employees or shut down your business. Free trade affords businesses the opportunity to improve the cost or quality of a product. Take Apple Inc. (AAPL) for example, the company’s ability to build a global supply chain has allowed the company to offer products and services to more than 1 billion users. If Apple was forced to manufacture exclusively in the U.S., the company’s sales and profits would be lower, and so too would the number of U.S. Apple employees.

Fortunately, no matter who gets elected president, if the rhetoric against free trade reaches a feverish pitch, investors can rest assured that the president’s powers to implement widespread tariffs and rip up longstanding trade deals is limited. He/she will still be forced to follow the authority of Congress, which still controls the nuts and bolts of our economy’s trade policies. In other words, there is nothing to fear…even not the free trade boogeyman.


Other Trade Related Articles on Investing Caffeine:

Productivity & Trade

Jumping on the Globalization Train


Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients hold positions in certain exchange traded funds (ETFs) and AAPL, MDLZ, but at the time of publishing had no direct position in  any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page.

October 10, 2016 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

Securing Your Bacon and Oreo Future

Stuffing money under the mattress earning next to nothing (e.g., 1.3% on a on a 1-year CD or a whopping 1.59% on a 5-year Treasury Note) may feel secure and safe, but how protected is that mattress money, when you consider the inflation eating away at its purchasing power?

We’ve all been confronted by older friends and family members proudly claiming, “When I was your age, (“fill in XYZ product here”) cost me a nickel and today it costs $5,000!” Well guess what…you’re going to become that same curmudgeon, except 20 or 30 years from now, you’re going to replace the product that cost a “nickel” with a “$15 3-D movie,” “$200 pair of jeans” and “$15,000 family health plan.” Chances are these seemingly lofty priced products and services will look like screaming bargains in the years to come.

The inflation boogeyman has been relatively tame over the last three decades. Kudos goes to former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who tamed out-of-control double-digit inflation by increasing short-term interest rates to 20% and choking off the money supply. Despite, the Bernanke printing presses smoking from excess activity, money has been clogged up on the banks’ balance sheets. This phenomenon, coupled with the debt-induced excess capacity of our economy, has led to core inflation lingering around the low single-digit range. Some even believe we will follow in the foot-steps of Japanese deflation (see why we will not follow Japan’s Lost Decades).  

The Essentials: Oreos and Bacon

Even if you believe movie, jeans, and healthcare won’t continue inflating at a rapid clip, I’m even more concerned about the critical essentials – for example, indispensable items like Oreos and bacon. Little did you probably know, but according to ProQuest’s Historic newspaper database, a package of Oreos has more than quadrupled in price over the last 30 years to over $4.00 per package  – let’s just say I’m not looking forward to spending $16.00 a pop for these heavenly, synthetic, hockey-puck-like, creamy delights.

Beyond Oreos, another essential staple of my diet came under intense scrutiny during my analysis. I’ve perused many an uninspiring chart in my day, but I must admit I experienced a rush of adrenaline when I stumbled across a chart highlighting my favorite pork product. Unfortunately the chart delivered a disheartening message. For my fellow pork lovers, I was saddened to learn those greasy, charred slices of salty protein paradise (a.k.a. bacon strips), have about tripled in price over a similar timeframe as the Oreos. Let us pray we will not suffer the same outcome again.

Sliced Bacon Prices (per lb.) – Source (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

It’s Not Getting Any Easier

Volatility aside, investing has become more challenging than ever. However, efficiently investing your nest egg has never been more critical. Why has efficiently managing your investments become so vital? First off, let’s take a look at the entitlement picture. Not so rosy. I suppose there are some retirees that will skate by enjoying their fully allocated Social Security check and Medicare services, but for the rest of us chumps, those luxurious future entitlements are quickly turning to a mirage.

What the financial crisis, rating agency conflicts, Madoff scandal, Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, AIG collapse, Goldman Sachs hearings, FinReg legislation, etc. taught us is the structural financial system is flawed. The system favors institutions and penalizes the investor with fees, commissions, transactions costs, fine print, and layers of conflicts of interests. All is not lost however. For most investors, the money stuffed under the mattress earning nothing needs to be resourcefully put to work at higher returns in order to offset rising prices. Putting together a diversified, low-cost, tax-efficient portfolio with an investment management firm that invests on a fee-only basis (thereby limiting conflicts) will put you on a path of financial success to cover the imperative but escalating living expenses, including of course, Oreos and bacon. 

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®  

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

*DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in KFT, GS, Lehman Brothers, AIG (however own derivative tied to insurance subsidary),  or any security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

August 6, 2010 at 1:28 am 2 comments

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