The White House plan to subsidize manufacturing

From In public and private, Biden and his advisers have signaled some dramatic interventions to revive U.S. manufacturing. Will they actually happen? (NY Times)

Wind-turbine manufacturers, whose supply chain goes through Europe, Asia and Canada, are seeking tax breaks for domestic production. So is the solar industry, which currently imports most of its assembled panels from Malaysia and Vietnam. The semiconductor industry has lobbied for tens of billions of dollars to upgrade production facilities and build new ones, on the grounds that semiconductors are a foundational technology — sort of like mechanically engineered stem cells that power everything from 5G mobile networks to autonomous vehicles and the internet of things. John Neuffer, the chief executive of the Semiconductor Industry Association, says supply shortages during the pandemic have focused minds in Washington on the importance of domestic production. 

Many of these proposals — and dozens more, like money to manufacture medical equipment, to buy e-scooters and other “micromobility” vehicles, to build “smart” pavement that can digitally connect cars to roads — made cameo appearances in Biden’s campaign, and the administration has expressed interest in pursuing them.

Deese, who has been overseeing Biden’s economic plans, told me that the priority when it comes to industrial support will be those areas where subsidies can encourage companies to spend money on factories and technology in the near term that they might not otherwise spend for years — “pulling forward” their investments, as he puts it.

Rodrik, the Harvard economist who is sympathetic to industrial policy, says the practice should really be seen as a way to ensure that American companies continue to innovate, more than as a means of vastly increasing employment. But Deese argues that the transition to a cleaner economy — installing solar panels, plugging abandoned oil wells, retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient — will generate lots of new jobs, even if manufacturing equipment doesn’t produce as many as desired. And he adds that we shouldn’t underestimate the job-creation potential of new equipment either.

As a rough model, he points to a Senate bill, based partly on the U.A.W. electric-vehicles paper, that would spend some $400 billion over a decade on cash rebates for consumers who buy U.S.-assembled electric or hybrid cars. The bill, proposed by Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, would also spend close to $50 billion funding the construction of charging stations nationally and provide nearly $20 billion in subsidies to help manufacturers build new plants and upgrade existing ones. “It’s the basic theory of the case,” Deese says. “Significant consumer incentives coupled with retooling for factories and a build-out of infrastructure.” The deal for manufacturers would become still more compelling with regulations mandating lower vehicle emissions and a commitment by the government to buy clean energy and clean equipment — a process Biden initiated with an executive order he signed in late January.

Tank Holding acquires Spin Products

From Tank Holding continues platform expansion with Spin Products purchase (Plastics News)

North America’s largest rotational molding company, Tank Holding Corp., has purchased Chino, Calif.-based rotational molder Spin Products Inc. This follows their acquisition of Dura-Cast Products announced last week and Rotational Molding Inc. announced in January.

“Spin and their valued long term customer relationships compliments our growth strategy both in our core and adjacent markets, including expansion of our custom molding division,” said Greg Wade, CEO of Tank Holding.

Owned by private equity firm Olympus Partners, Tank Holding includes the brands of Norwesco, Snyder Industries, Bonar Plastics, Bushman, Chem-tainer, Meese, Snyder Industries, Stratis Pallets, RMI and Dura-Cast.

Plastics News reports on January resin prices

From Price hikes bring resin buyers a less than happy new year in January (Plastics News):

Plastics News

“North American polypropylene prices surged an average of 13 cents per pound in January, after jumping 14 cents in December. That two-month total of 27 cents in increases has led some processors to issue price surcharges on PP-finished products.

“Regional polyethylene prices moved up an average of 5 cents per pound in January after also moving up by 5 in December. The surprising hikes were caused by strong demand — especially in products sold to grocery stores — and unplanned outages at some production sites, according to RTI PE market analyst Mike Burns.”

Fed/OSHA issues new COVID-19 guidance

Federal OSHA guidance issued at the end of January is intended for most workplaces “outside of health care” and includes an outline for a 16 element COVID-19 Prevention Program as well as “additional detail on key measures for limiting the spread.”  While this step is merely guidance, nothing prevents Fed/OSHA from using it as a basis for a citation.

This article offers a concise breakdown of the 16 elements.

Here are the details from OSHA.