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U.S. Imposes Tariffs On Chinese Solar Cells

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the sunshine-of-your-love dept.

Power 345

New submitter kimtysirt sends this excerpt from a Bloomberg report about U.S. tariffs for Chinese solar panels: "The U.S. yesterday imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese-made solar cells to aid domestic manufacturers beset by foreign competition, though critics said the decision may end up raising prices and hurting the U.S. renewable energy industry. The U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Chinese manufacturers sold cells in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production and announced preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent, depending on the manufacturer. China criticized the action, saying the U.S. is hurting itself and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies. The decision is meant to provide a boost to the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, where four companies filed for bankruptcy in the past year."

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Yes, it will raise prices (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040207)

But only because they were already artificially low, with China selling those things below cost just to gain market dominance. Hell, even with this, they'll STILL be artificially low, with the U.S. heavily subsidizing the whole industry. The fact is that solar power is just not that economical on its own (and IMHO is a pipe dream anyway, but that's another post). But seeing as the U.S. still subsidizes the wildly profitable coal and oil industries (and don't get me started on agricultural subsidies), I guess turnabout is fair play.

And before anyone jumps up to defend the free market here, you may want to keep in mind that a level playing field (with no protectionism) is great if you're a Chinese worker making $1 an hour--not so fucking great if you're an American or European worker getting paid many times that. You go ahead and compete in the "free market" with people willing to work for a fraction of your salary and just see what happens to your beloved first-world living standard.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (-1, Redundant)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040273)

But only because they were already artificially low, with China selling those things below cost just to gain market dominance.

I've heard that said a few times but it seems nuts that China would sell these things at a loss, if that's really the case they will run out of money and be forced to stop fairly soon.

Do you have a citation for the claim that China is selling solar at a loss?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040289)

How would they run out of money? The government of China has and can force its banks to give loans that essentially never have to be repaid to these vendors.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040313)

How would they run out of money? The government of China has and can force its banks to give loans that essentially never have to be repaid to these vendors.

Why would they? What would the Chinese government gain by flooding the solar panels market with things that cost more than they sell for?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040339)

They can corner the market on the cells. They did this with Rare Earths already. They undercut everyone on price, then starting instituting policies limiting exports of raw rare earths.

I would assume the long term goal is similar, limit sales of non-finished panels once there are no competing producers of cells.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040341)

Once they've driven the competition out of business, they probably won't continue to sell them at a loss.....

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (5, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040347)

How would they run out of money? The government of China has and can force its banks to give loans that essentially never have to be repaid to these vendors.

Why would they? What would the Chinese government gain by flooding the solar panels market with things that cost more than they sell for?

Are you being serious? Dumping is a well understood practice. I will put it in Slashdot terms.

Step 1: Set up huge industry with government captial
Step 2: Start selling goods in foreign markets at well below what it cost to make them
Step 3: Watch as foreign competitors go bankrupt
Step 4: Crank up prices as no competition is left, then lend foreigners the money needed to buy goods
Step 5: ???

The question marks are at the end because the only thing unknown about this situation is whether china will use their wealth to simply buy up everything in the world, or to buy up just the military might and then watch as all the peasant nations fight over who will get to supply china with movies and music.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040453)

And then when they jack up the prices again, what's to stop anyone from re-entering the market? Do you think there are significant barriers to manufacturing something as simple as solar cells?

Even assuming they bankrupt all competitors and then raise their prices, new competitors will come out of the woodwork to eat their lunch. It's not a sustainable long-term strategy.

This is a ridiculous argument.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040535)

Yes, there are huge barriers to manufacturing something better and at a lower price than a monopolist who can count on a huge economy of scale. Cf. Microsoft vs the rest of the world.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

baffled (1034554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040567)

Precisely! It's not like we're dealing with manufacturing automobiles, with nearly countless parts and exorbitant market entry costs.

This seems like a brain-dead move on the part of Washington. Solar energy provides cheap power, power to run countless things used by people in our local economies. Less money spent on utility bills is more money spent on local goods and services. Instead, all this will do is increase the amount of money Americans spend on coal to be mined and burned here - a small boost to jobs that will ultimately crumble because of global warming and alternative, green energy.

Stupid, stupid federal government.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

thaylin (555395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040593)

let see, New competition spend time and money rolling out manufacturing and doing research to catch up to the established monopoly, china drops prices just long enough to run them out of buisness, then raises them again.. Yep, looks like it can be sustained in the long run.. All they need to be able to do is make back the money of the dump during the gouging.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040595)

Do you think it is inexpensive to setup a solar panel manufacturing plant? marketing and sales? back office support? distribution arrangements? you don't think this is terribly time consuming and expensive? all while knowing that at any minute the chinese could yank the rug out from under you and start selling the panels below cost? who would even invest in your operation knowing that reality?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040621)

Becoming a PV manufacturer isn't cheap. What new competitor wants to enter a market where they know their main competitor can lower prices at will below the cost of production, and sustain that reduction long enough to drive most other companies out of business? So long as that uncertainty is hanging there it will severely restrict who is willing to enter the market.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040677)

How much do you think it costs to setup a PV Fab?
Do you think anyone would give you that loan when these folks will just start dumping again until you are gone?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040903)

Two reasons -
1. Barriers to entry - R&D, factories, and distribution channels aren't cheap.
2. Capital aversion - Why would anyone invest in someone foolish enough to challenge the dominant player?
No, the argument is not ridiculous.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040349)

Simple strategy. Sell at a loss now to gain market dominance, and in the future when the engineering catches up to the price point you're the only game in town to profit.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040391)

Control of the market. You are thinking way too short term. Think in decades.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040405)

Social Stability.

You can either

1. Fire a lot of people, breaking the pact that the Communist part can stay in power as long as they provided jobs and growth for everybody or

2. Take ill advised loans. Sure, there is a chance you can't pay them back - but that's o.k. - you can always borrow more money to pay back the nonperforming loans.

Chin'a capital system is susceptible to political power.

Or, another theory is that they are willing to subsides the venture until they become profitable. Sorta of like Microsoft and (XBox / Zune). Willing to loose money for years until they hit a break even point. Of curse, this ties nicely into my second point. What is the difference between an ill advised loan and a gamble for long term gains? I will give you a hint - it's the subsisted loans.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040523)

Exactly, think of it as economic stimulus but instead of infrastructure you end up with controlling marketshare in key growth markets.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040415)

Go to Wal---t. Tip over the products. Does it say made in China or made in USA?

This is what happens when you can sell things at a loss for a sustained period. Social and environmental loss is easier to hide on a balance sheet but this just happened to be ridiculously obvious. Current economic losses are sustained by a cash cushion that manipulating currency and selling other things at a loss created.

They are just making sure that when the next economic revolution occurs they are on top of that wave as well.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040571)

Go to Wal---t. Tip over the products. Does it say made in China or made in USA?.

Walmart's gotten much better about stocking made in USA options; in most broad categories you can find a USA made item. Electronics of course are the exception. Even the clothing section has made in USA.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040871)

Even if it does, I'd be willing to put money on the fact that only a 51% majority of the product is actually made (assembled) here...or whatever the minimum amount required by law to be allowed to say "Made in USA".

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040439)

Why would they? What would the Chinese government gain by flooding the solar panels market with things that cost more than they sell for?

Dumping is a common tactic for gaining market share. Competitors go out of business or get bought up by you. Then when you have enough market share and eliminated enough competition, you gain pricing power, the ability to price things above the rate in a competitive market. The profit from that can pay for the costs incurred during the dumping phase.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040447)

Why would they? What would the Chinese government gain by flooding the solar panels market with things that cost more than they sell for?

Its called dumping see here [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040321)

It's the Chinese government that making the manufacturer sell below cost. They keep the manufacturer from closing down by getting paid by everyone (taxes) in order to dominate the market in the future. Remember, China government generally holds a large stake (stocks) in these companies that it might as well be fully government owned and run.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040361)

Do you have a citation for the claim that you have heard this a few times?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040379)

The Chinese government subsidizes all solar cells in order to gain market dominance. They are doing this in other ways as well.

The Chinese know energy is where the money is long term. And the China government thinks long term.
This is the same reason they are putting roads into African Countries that have copper mines. This way the look good to the government, make contacts, and be in place to get the copper. Something that will be worth more then gold in 100 years, btw.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-02/china-cuts-subsidies-for-pilot-solar-projects-on-declining-costs.html [bloomberg.com]

And of course labor there is very cheap and often subsidized.

My brother is in the Solar Industry, and they make cutting edge cells and China undermining the US market is killing RnD.

Taxing the Environment (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040417)

But only because they were already artificially low, with China selling those things below cost just to gain market dominance.

I've heard that said a few times but it seems nuts that China would sell these things at a loss, if that's really the case they will run out of money and be forced to stop fairly soon.

That's not necessarily true. They could be exploiting a resource. In this case, I will argue that China is exploiting their local environment [nytimes.com] and exporting products that are a direct result of using up that resource to countries that will not sacrifice that resource for money. Imagine if a solar plant in the United States could dump the tailings and cuttings anywhere they wanted or lay a pipe to anywhere that disposes of water and fluids used in the mechanical processing of said solar cells, they too could sell really cheap solar cells and panels. Lead, mercury, cadmium and the production of carbon dioxide are all still a part of fabricating photovoltaic technologies for mass production.

The very weak argument of how a free market is supposed to protect the environment goes something like this: people know pollution is bad and therefore they pay top dollar for the companies that pollute the least. If people don't think pollution is bad, then they buy the cheapest stuff and deal with it. And somehow the free market is supposed to work like this. Well, I'm glad for the EPA and I'm glad that the free market hasn't been left to companies that would rather spend money on misinformation campaigns than actual cleaner technology. Nixon opened trade with China and every president since has left it that way. As a result, we've found a loophole to get our cheap shit without polluting our local environment. But with CO2 having global impact, it's about time we started taxing products from foreign countries that don't want to play by our standards of environmental ethics (and it's obvious that China's national government is either helpless or corrupt). It's funny, if we applied tariffs in IT the same way, all the people complaining about outsourcing would be satisfied as now the ethical treatment and compensation of workers would be artificially raised by the US government to make it a toss up whether or not it is exported. Indian programmers are exploited by their companies in ways that American companies simply cannot.

Keep in mind, I'm not arguing for these tariffs, I'm just urging you to shift your point of view instead of assuming that the only thing the Chinese are losing in this proposition is a net loss on their sales. On the contrary, they're losing their environment and abusing human resources so much so that they are making a killing by their standards in profit. As such, it shall continue ad infinitum.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040441)

But only because they were already artificially low, with China selling those things below cost just to gain market dominance.

I've heard that said a few times but it seems nuts that China would sell these things at a loss, if that's really the case they will run out of money and be forced to stop fairly soon.

Do you have a citation for the claim that China is selling solar at a loss?

Well think about it. There's two reasons you sell things at a loss.

One is if it's an investment you will be making back later. In the case of solar cells this means buying market share, or if you are lucky buying monopoly pricing. You don't need monopoly pricing to earn it back because Market share is sticky. Market share comes not simply setting your prices or offering what people want, it's capacity, distribution networks, and standards.

Two is if you are looking at the wrong market. If there is a regional job shortage it may be cheaper for the Govt to subsidize and industry than pay unemployment costs. That would be unemployment costs not just to those workers but the whole regional economy it supports.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040449)

Okay, you're not really that dense are you?

Force competition out of the market---corner the market and THEN raise prices. When you own the market you charge whatever you want.

And yes, the Chinese gov't has it's hands all over their economy and manufacturing.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040585)

It's called dumping [wikipedia.org] , and the whole point is to completely control a market (or control a large portion of it). It's a long-term strategy, meant to pay off down the road.

Perfect example is the TV industry. For many years, the U.S. was the main manufacturer of TVs worldwide, but then foreign competitors began dumping their own TVs on the market, selling them below cost, and now, there are no more U.S. TV manufacturers. They've completely killed the industry in the U.S..

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (5, Insightful)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040287)

Devil's advocate: Maybe they should take it further and tax all products to the equivalent of government subsidies by foreign entities. Heavily subsiding is a practice that should be discouraged, irrespective of the product. While they're at it, they can stop local subsiding of things like high fructose corn syrup too.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040385)

That's not devil's advocate. That's a good idea.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040413)

The Devil would have enough sense to understand the things he talks about before making himself look stupid.

The fact that you want to stop Corn Subsidies tells me you really have a headline only knowledge of these topics.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040427)

Subsidise yourself, fat boy.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Informative)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040505)

I thought this [wikipedia.org] was common knowledge:

HFCS is cheaper in the United States as a result of a combination of corn subsidies and sugar tariffs and quotas.[19] Since the mid 1990s, the United States federal government has subsidized corn growers by $40 billion.[20][21]

Maybe it would help if you read beyond one or two of those headlines you're going on about.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040787)

"If you disagree with me, then you are uneducated"

lol

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040503)

How do you calculate the subsides? We are not talking about direct subsides but indirect.

When a "private" bank (where the state owns shares and a party member sits on the board) offers a loan, how do you determine if it's cheap or just competitive? When the state has lax pollution controls, is that because they are favoring the industry or because they have their NIMBYs under control?

Or, my favorite example, Boeing vs.Airbus. Airbus has gotten launch loans - loans they did not have to repay if they airplanes designs failed. That takes a lot of risk out of a project - heads I win, tails you loose. We can measure that. On the other hand, Boeing was able to do a lot of aircraft desgin for the Defense Department / NASA which they transferred over to their civilian division. How do you measure that?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040705)

Maybe the rest of the world should do the same. How much subsidy have US car makes had?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (5, Insightful)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040293)

As always seems to happen during debates around trade tariffs and regulation, you're considering only one side of the equation (American workers) and not the other (American consumers). The majority of us who are not workers manufacturing solar cells benefit greatly from having a supply of cheap, foreign-made solar cells rather than expensive, domestic-made cells, which on the whole balances out the negative impact on American workers.

Our first world living standard is exactly because of these kinds of arrangements, not despite them.

You are correct in pointing out that "dumping" (selling solar cells below the cost of manufacturing them) is a true market distortion and should generally be discouraged, but I think it's naive to pretend that these tariffs are based on economics and not political pressures.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040353)

As always seems to happen during debates around trade tariffs and regulation, you're considering only one side of the equation (American workers) and not the other (American consumers). The majority of us who are not workers manufacturing solar cells benefit greatly from having a supply of cheap, foreign-made solar cells rather than expensive, domestic-made cells, which on the whole balances out the negative impact on American workers.

In the short term. When there's no competition left, the Chinese will stop selling them below cost.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040423)

And they'll be able to sell them no higher than the market rate, which will be higher than cost plus a slim profit margin, just like any other product on earth. Raise the price too much and China's comparative advantage is lost, and Vietnam or India or maybe even the USA swoops in and sells them for less. Eventually we settle on the truest, cheapest realistic price for the product.

Guys, this is basic economics.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

unimacs (597299) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040513)

When there's no serious competition, market rate will be higher. If someone does try to come in to compete, the big manufacturers lower the price again until the fledgling competitor, whose pockets are not nearly as deep, drops out.

You see this all the time.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

JustLikeToSay (651328) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040557)

A better economist than me said "In the long run we are all dead" so I am always a bit cautious about asserting what will happen eventually - other than, of course, being dead.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040433)

No, these tariffs are economical. Getting something from overseas because it's cheaper doesn't actually help the American consumer. Unfortuantly the American consumer is short sighted and selfish. So when they have their cheap solar cells, but no jobs the can't figure out why.

China is a bad player.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040309)

All they are doing is following the Walmart business model in a larger scale.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040317)

And before anyone jumps up to defend the free market here, you may want to keep in mind that a level playing field (with no protectionism) is great if you're a Chinese worker making $1 an hour--not so fucking great if you're an American or European worker getting paid many times that. You go ahead and compete in the "free market" with people willing to work for a fraction of your salary and just see what happens to your beloved first-world living standard.

I would hope that anyone commenting here realizes that when it comes to China, "free market" is not even on the spectrum of economic principles. Currency manipulation that puts EVERYTHING in the world's second largest economy at a continuously under-priced advantage is about as close to the "free market" as North Korea is to joining the UN.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2, Insightful)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040319)

You go ahead and compete in the "free market" with people willing to work for a fraction of your salary and just see what happens to your beloved first-world living standard.

You're failing to make a comparison between what is seen (lost US jobs) and what is unseen (improved standard of living for everyone in the country because of cheaper energy-related goods). You're angry that other people might out-compete you in the job market, so in essence you want the government to use force to make sure that solar energy is kept more expensive so that all the other citizens in the country will subsidize your job.

That's kind of a jerk thing to do, FYI.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040357)

So manipulating your currency and selling products at a loss is out competing?

Are you misinformed or insane? The reason the GP quoted free market, is because when dealing with China there is never a free market, they don't play fair with their currency to being with.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040429)

Misinformed, not insane. Most of these free-market types are purposely self-deluded, although a small number are genuinely dumb. They're not stupid per se, it's rather that they ignore most of reality in order to focus on a tiny sliver of reality which, when misconstrued to extreme lengths, results in Libertariansim.

Let me be clear that this post is flamebait, not trolling. Trolling is when you say things that aren't true; flamebait is when you say things that aren't popular.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040489)

you would only have a point on an even playing field, it is not an even playing field.

China government is forcing the prices down artificially. This isn't competition. It's paying to control a market for long term advantages.

Competing in a manner where there are fewer and fewer jobs in the US is a spiral down, not up.

But hey, if another country stealing are RnD, then putting out a product below cost, flooding the market and destroying are industry is 'competing', then you are an idiot.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040335)

First, I disagreee with the tariffs because I think the US manufacturers should get their manufacturing costs down and the efficiency of their solar cells up or move to a better technology; which is happening, but by keeping the cheap Chinese cells out, there isn't any incentive for the US manfacturers to do anything other than do the same old same old - see history of auto industry.

Solar isn't a pipe dream. Newer technologies are being developed that are more efficient, cheaper to make or all the above. And there was an incentive to do that to become competitive with fossil fuels and Chinese imports.

I for one want solar and other "green" technologies to be developed under the harshest competitive and regulatory environments because when not if they get the technolgoy down, it will kick fossil fuel's ass in terms of cost and efficiency.

As it is, the fossil fuel industry is surviving with all their incentives and if "green" energy can be economical wthout any subsidies, we'll see the death of fossil fuel usage by free markets which is exactly what I want. And if it's done on it's own merits, there will be no valid excuse to keep using fossil fuels.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040377)

If I can't have a free market, I'll settle for a fair one. Because even without this regulation we are not in a free market, as the companies dumping these goods are being supported and propped up by the Chinese government. Free market means no interference. Subsidies are interference and therefore NOT a free market. And these companies are definitely being subsidized by the Chinese government. This kind of behavior has been rampant from them for years.

And I really love the comment by the Chinese that this is the US hurting cooperation. The Chinese sure have a very odd definition of cooperation. This isn't cooperation; in most places that is called taking advantage of someone. True cooperation would be not dumping goods in an effort to gain market share. If they want to play games, we need to play right back. If they want to compete with us, they can play by the rules and try to compete. The sad thing is these kinds of laws are already on the books, the government just doesn't like to use them. If we enforced our own trade laws, we would stop hemorrhaging money and production capability to China, and we would actually begin to recover. Would things cost more? Probably, yes. But the money will at least stay in this country instead of going back to Beijing, where it'll be used to buy things somewhere else instead of being re-spent in America.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040457)

Would you really want a free market if you could have one? A free market is a market with zero regulations or taxes. Zero. Do you really want zero regulations? You can't even think of one single regulation you favor? If you can think of even one single regulation or tax that you favor, then what you want is not a free market, but a regulated market. Unfortunately, that then requires you to do the hard work of applying reason and subtle thought to the question of which regulations you favor, denying the opportunity to simply dismiss all regulations out of hand.

Markets are good. Free markets are bad.

False Thinking (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040821)

Zero. Do you really want zero regulations?

Do you really want so many that only a handful of giant companies can actually work in the market, so many that no small business can ever start?

Because that is the other side of that coin.

You call for "subtle thought" while you apply the hammer of only considering "zero regulations" without thought to what happens when a market is over-regulated.

A truly free market is indeed preferable to a vastly over-regulated one, because at least the individual can enter it.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040847)

A free market is a market with zero regulations or taxes. Zero.

"Free market" in the sense of a market with no rules, is an oxymoron. A "market" IS a set of rules/regulations for trade, the most basic of these being property rights, it's paradoxical nonsense to want a set of rules for trade that has no rules. The "free" in free market actually means anyone is free to participate in the market povided they play by the rules. I don't understand why such a large number of people in the US have trouble understanding the concept, they use it every day, no?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040443)

The fact is that solar power is just not that economical on its own

So? Neither is train travel, air travel, or highway construction. A good set of American made solar panels have a life expectancy of 20 years. That's a good investment in my mind, especially if we can hold off building new power plants.

Any big change in civilization comes at a cost that's rarely profitable at first, but it's the right thing to do.

The Chinese we're trying to undermine U.S. manufacturing by dumping panels below cost, it's about time we started fighting back. Republicans would have just gone, "Oh, too bad, the Chinese make panels cheaper...free market blah, blah, blah." And kiss those jobs goodbye.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040749)

Those lifetimes are for 75% of output if you are willing to live with 50% output you can probably double or triple that lifetime estimate. It only becomes a question of if the cost of new panels is worth more power on the same area.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040469)

Yes the low labor cost debate...
However the United States is much better as improving efficiency in the process. So one worker can do the work of many low wage workers. Now if China is selling things below cost then that is bigger issue, because then we are producing optimally, however the Chinese government is producing sub-optimally, in an attempt to monopolize the market.

While Labor cost is a big expense, it isn't the only one, and isn't normally the key factor. We are seeing a lot of In sourcing happening in the market right now. As they found out that this cheap labor is not cheap labor+the high efficiency that they were expecting, but cheap labor and low efficiency, which isn't saving them a lot.

The full Free Market has Huge ups and downs (Where the ups are excellent, and the downs are horrible). Now over our history we have put different amounts of regulations, Regulations tend to limit the Ups and Downs and stabilize the markets, so there is less extremes allows a stable predictable market and everyone is happy... however they are less happy during the upswing (and demand for more free market, which in turn creates a heavier down swing). Now too much regulation will keep everything at a statuesque. And this will hinder a lot of innovation, and new markets from emerging, so in time the economy will degrade as it isn't adaptable enough.
There is a careful balance that is needed for the optimal balance. It is like trying to hold the most amount of water in your hand. If you grasp too tightly you squeeze all the water out, if you let you hand be flat the water will then just rush out, you need to cup your hand enough for the optimal amount of water to stay.

However unlike grasping you hand where you can find the optimal range with some basic calculous, the economy isn't so predictable, so you need touchy freely work to get it right, and after you get it right it will change on you so you need to try again. The Lazy Political Motivated peole like to go to extreams of saying No Government or all government, so we just don't need to keep trying. However to stay optimal we always need to keep trying and going back and forth, with no end in sight.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040565)

You go ahead and compete in the "free market" with people forced under penalty of imprisonment / violence against family members to work for a fraction of your salary and just see what happens to your beloved first-world living standard.

FTFY. Result is the same, though.

This is free market economics at its best; We buy the shit they make, they keep fucking over the people making that shit.

Stop buying their shit.

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Rostin (691447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040607)

And before anyone jumps up to defend the free market here, you may want to keep in mind that a level playing field (with no protectionism) is great if you're a Chinese worker making $1 an hour--not so fucking great if you're an American or European worker getting paid many times that. You go ahead and compete in the "free market" with people willing to work for a fraction of your salary and just see what happens to your beloved first-world living standard.

It's also great if you're an American who wants to buy solar cells. Or a dock worker. Or someone who works in the import-export business. Or a solar cell installer. Why do workers in solar cell manufacturing deserve more consideration than everyone else who will be negatively affected? Proponents of tariffs seem to always forget that the economic consequences of government mandated ineffiency go beyond what they intended. If you really insist upon seeing this as a zero-sum, us-vs-them kind of thing with the Chinese, why not just be happy that they are helping us out by providing something at their own expense for much cheaper than we can produce it ourselves?

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040859)

"Libertarians think they're getting freedom by eliminating the government. They're just getting corporate slavery" Was gonna post something about Socialists and Libtards but then I realized everyone already knows how idiotic those belief systems are and creating one more "quote" would simply be beating a dead horse. What a fucking moron

Re:Yes, it will raise prices (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040879)

They can do every efficiency we can, and they still have more peasants waiting for jobs than our entire population.

And I'll go out on aa limb and guess you are one of these do-away-with-patent people. So so much for any remaining hope for the US.

And should some US person invent something major and make a massively profitable thing made here, you will just demand they have their taxes raised to "pay their fair share".

The US is over. The center of empire has shifted again, to the wild area on its outskirts, while the old core of empire has decided to lord over itself right down into irrelevancy, instead of doing what made it great in the first place, which was keep the trade routes open thile the even older empire, Europe, turned to lording over itself instead of keeping *its* trade routes open.

There's more to keeping trade routes open than just infrastructure, end you are clueless if you think a bridge helps when the government assigns highway robbers to collect 40% of everything passing through. You don't care and are oblivious to the concept of freedom.

This will help nothing (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040255)

It might keep some producers in business for a while. But it will ultimately destroy US based business in this field. There is timeless and countless example of how protectionist trade policy does nothing more than hurt the ones its intended to help. Some protectionist policies have been utterly disastrous [wikipedia.org] . The worst part is the CEOs and investors will hurt the least. The workers, the 9-5 employee, when they lose their job, they will suffer the most.

Re:This will help nothing (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040311)

You link said nothing of the sort.

What is the alternative?
Either they go out of business now because the Chinese are willing to lose money to put them out of business or we do this and maybe they last a little longer assuming we accept your claim.

Re:This will help nothing (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040403)

There's other alternatives to going out of business. But even if if that's the only outcome, there's better ways to deal with the problem than starting a trade war over it. Trade wars have never had positive outcomes for average Joes (aka me). Trade wars benefit a few people with lots of money and political position. This might be a better link [about.com] ...see the section Consequences of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

Re:This will help nothing (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040509)

What's the other alternative?

How would you combat dumping?
Try to remember that dumping and the over production Smoot-Hawley tried to deal with are very different things.

Re:This will help nothing (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040563)

Oh look, another person linking to Smoot-Hawley wikipedia page. The fact that you think that applies to this tells anyone who has studies this that you are a know nothing loud mouth.

Translation (5, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040261)

When US subsidize solar, it good [google.com] .

When China subsidize solar, it bad.

Re:Translation (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040707)

Yes, because a loan guarantee is exactly the same as what the Chinese are doing....

Trade Wars (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040263)

Begun it has!

What "domestic manufacturers" ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040265)

Does there even exist solar panel companies who do not manufacture in China?

As far as I know, pretty much ALL of the big world players manufacture in China. This is effectively a tariff on the entire industry.

So much for "green" subsidies.

Re:What "domestic manufacturers" ?? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040397)

I'm not sure what market share they have, but at least the company mentioned in this article, SolarWorld, manufactures its panels [solarworld-usa.com] in the U.S. and Germany.

This will work well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040275)

...if you want to destroy the solar market.

The reason you don't have penetration is because the cells cost too much. A 250% boost before they get to retail is going to mean a 300% or more boost to the end consumer. Since most people would simply say "Too expensive" when it comes to solar cells at the cheap Chinese price, this new price will guarantee many, many, many more decades of no purchases. Which means American companies still selling few to no cells and therefore going out of business, and also no installations of any solar cells at all and therefore more pollution.

As usual, government's involvement in the free market has unintended consequences.

Re:This will work well... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040323)

Why would this raise the prices of solar cells not made in China?

Only four companies filed for bankruptcy.. (1, Flamebait)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040281)

... in a down economy and the whole industry gets a Tariff? There's some serious backroom "backscratching" going on. Did General Electric just toss out a huge campaign contribution?

Re:Only four companies filed for bankruptcy.. (0)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040479)

+1, Insightful

My "company" last year had a profit of about $250. On those "profits", my "company" paid more taxes than did General Electric, by multiple billions of dollars.

This is good news (5, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040333)

As someone who knows what foreign manufacturing does to local economy (UK based and lived through the death of Sheffield Steel and British Coal), this is the only fix - to impose tariffs on foreign made goods, because we do have the technology and infrastructure to make this stuff ourselves; the only thing we're doing by outsourcing is PUTTING PEOPLE OUT OF WORK. This (taxing foreign goods) stimulates the local economy; hands up those who think this is in any way bad??

I would do the same thing to fix the auto industry (and raw materials eg refined aluminium and steel/alloys). Why? Because we've outsourced to Japan and China, they're getting rich selling us shitty cars, while our local auto industry (which used to make quality cars most of which still run after 20, 30, 40 or even 50+ years! Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Leyland, Rover...) has died a death or sold out to BMW who get most of their coachwork from... CHINA!

Re:This is good news (0)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040519)

Anyone else find it funny that some guy is touting the greatness of British cars?

My hand is up, by the way, because your higher prices hurt your own poor and poor folks in the rest of the world. But you probably don't care about the well-being of the slant-eyes.

Re:This is good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040755)

Seemed to me that the main reason the coal industry was shut down in England is so that Margaret Thatcher could wrestle power away from the unions who were getting to hold the country to ransom. She had the same struggle with dock workers etc. I remember doing my home work under candle light during the early 70's as a result of union power. Tariffs on imports would just have given the unions more power and the system would have committed suicide anyway.

Not that I approve of Thatchers solution, I wish a way out of those dark disputes had been found that was more forward looking, creative and productive and kept production in the UK. I was myself a victim of this Thatcherism as huge enterprises like UK electronics (Marconi Radar for example) were sacrificed in order to buy cheaper radars and defense systems from the states.

You have a blind spot re: shitty Japanese and Chinese cars. British cars from the late 1960's onward are the butt of jokes whereever you go in Europe, or indeed the rest of the world. They were poorly made and rusted away very quickly. Mention Lucas electrics around here, Finland, and you will wait a long time for the laughter to subside.

Yes there were nice Jags and Rovers etc, which are collectors items around the world now. But they were the upper end of the market, the bulk of production of reasonably priced cars for normal people were awful. No wonder the Nips took over.

Same applies to the British Motorcycle industry by the way.
 

Re:This is good news (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040789)

Quality British cars?
Have you ever owned a Jag? They only run after 2 months because of the time they spend in the shop. They only reason you see them 50 years later is because of their value making it reasonable to keep repairing them.

Any toyota made today is a better car than any jag made 20 years ago. Leyland was a joke, is a joke and forever will be a joke. I love British cars, but reliability is not their strong suit.

Re:This is good news (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040841)

we've outsourced to Japan and China, they're getting rich selling us shitty cars, while our local auto industry (which used to make quality cars most of which still run after 20, 30, 40 or even 50+ years! Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Leyland, Rover...) has died a death

Were you driving the same British cars the rest of us were? I have a 1970 Norton Commando; the quality of manufacturing on that bike is abysmal, down to the visibly off-center bore on one of the cylinders. That's not to mention the fact that the design was grossly outdated by 1970, but the management was too complacent to spend on a decent drivetrain which wouldn't pour oil out of every seam. There's a reason Honda ate their lunch, and it's not because they were selling crap...

And even today, I know someone with an $80k Range Rover; that POS died (as in, won't run, need a tow truck) on the highway twice in the first 2 years, and another time just poured its coolant all over his driveway for no reason. He still likes it (just like I like my Norton), but it's far from being a quality car. I'd have traded it in on a Land Cruiser after the first breakdown (if I had been silly enough to buy it in the first place, and still wanted an SUV).

Re:This is good news (2)

englishknnigits (1568303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040855)

Wow, really? When you put a tariff on something it's primary effect is to raise the price of goods and services in your country. Tariffs on coal and steel would literally make everything in your country more expensive and lower the standard of living for everyone in your country. That is bad. The raised costs of goods and services in your country would also hurt your other exports. It also encourages other countries to put tariffs on your goods and services which hurts your exports even more, costs local tax revenue, and destroys jobs. If your country isn't very good at producing something (which is why it has a higher price than everyone else), it should make something else. You would be better off letting those workers in the coal and steel industry find other, more productive jobs and letting everyone else benefit from the low prices rather than imposing tariffs to protect an inefficient industry.

Re:This is good news (2)

vmlemon (1203598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040869)

It might sound counter-productive (and maybe even hypocritical) - but if you want a British-built car (or at least a European-built one), then why not buy a new Honda (http://www.honda.co.uk/cars/campaigns/2011/madeinbritain/ says that they're built in Swindon), a new Nissan (made in Sunderland), or a new Ford (built in Dagenham)? After all, many of their European/UK-market models are either built by British people in plants based in England, or at least built in plants in the rest of Europe by native workers. Still, I don't care too much - but as a Brit, I'd rather the Japanese or Americans got my money if I was buying a car, than the Chinese.

Hyopcrisy (5, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040355)

China engages in all kinds of economic protectionism including artificially manipulating its currency not to mention import tariffs. So, by leveling these accusations at the United States, they sound awfully stale and hollow.

Well, *I* feel better (1)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040365)

Whew! Doesn't that just take a load off all our minds?

For a while there, it looked like solar had finally reached a price where the mainstream could realistically afford them and the electricity savings would eventually pay back the initial investment. Won't someone think of all the poor, poor coal-fired power plants in the midwest? I mean, if everyone had a solar array on their roof (perhaps even enforced by building codes), Dear Lord! We might manage to get by purely with some sort of socialist-inspired nightmare of on-demand clean gas-fired turbines!

And I, for one, know I will sleep better knowing that somewhere, a solid American union worker makes more than I do to press the red button and pull the lever every 49 seconds.


/ And if anyone considers this trolling, well, Greece would probably love your input on its current situation.

Re:Well, *I* feel better (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040437)

As would that other failed state Germany.

Re:Well, *I* feel better (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040865)

Failed state?
With a higher per capita GDP than the USA, longer life expectancy and similar laws. Care to explain?

Re:Well, *I* feel better (4, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040547)

What you just said is tantamount to saying that in 1969, the "price" of a trip to the moon finally reached a price where the mainstream could realistically afford a ticket, because astronauts didn't pay for the ride.

If a government pays a price for something, then that nullifies the claim that the thing has become affordable. China is paying for your solar cells. Now, it might be either good or bad for China to be paying for your solar cells, but let's not pretend that the solar cells are actually cheap.

So Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040399)

If the prices for these cells were to drop below the point where US companies would be profitable - then there would be no more US producers in a few years.
As technology progresses, the price for US companies to compete with China's then progressed technology level would be too high. Especially when the 'green expectation' on manufacturers is probably increasing (subtle understatement ..
- Thus, if these custom tarriffs were not there, it might force the US to be in the hands of China to provide the platforms for 'green production'. Which is where China s going.. /imho

China provides no benefit to us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040409)

Finally! It's about time we did something about Chinese slave labor and IP theft. When I was young we had absolutely NO trade with China and -- guess what -- we were far better off economically. What we need to do sever all ties to China.

Seems fair to me (2)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040411)

Unless the Americans want to embrace the life style of the Chinese workers, they need to resort to protectionism. There can be no competition when the players do not follow the same rules. People will have to spend a bit more to buy solar cells, but I'd see that extra money as an investment, e.g. to keep the competences needed to build them inside the country.

Let's start a trade war. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040477)

Let's start a trade war. That will really get our economy going.

I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040487)

This obviously has nothing to do with supporting US solar power manufacturers, if that were true then why not apply tariffs to jeans, toys, electronics or any other consumer good in existence? This is obviously a result of lobbying by the coal industry which produces more than half of the US's power and feels threatened by cheap solar power. They feel they can combat a US based solar power industry but a China based one might be too much for them.

So This is the Free Market System.. (4, Interesting)

rocker_wannabe (673157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040499)

Companies go on and on about the beauty of the "free market system" until it doesn't work for them. The U.S. government rushes in to help companies stay competitive but doesn't do much to help our workforce stay competitive. Helping U.S. companies does not help U.S. workers like it once did. Most companies depend on labor outside the U.S. to some extent. Why can't they put a tax on outsourced labor to make U.S. wage rates competitive?

I've never seen a U.S. congress that cared less about it's people than this one. The message from out government is if you can't figure out how to make a livable wage in this recession then just disappear so we don't have to deal with you. The real "kick in the head" is that if I didn't have to support our bloated local, state and federal government, deal with reams of regulations, and spend large amounts of money on insurance to protect me from a litigious society then I could be competitive with the rest of the world.

I fucking told you so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040637)

This is a big fuck-you to all the limp wristed conservative whining about government waste wen solendra went under.
Yet another industy lost to the Chinese due to economic foul play.
Why do you hate America?

Dear retarded government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40040739)

Please put tariffs on outsourced labor. Because that's the only thing the people care about.
That's what's costing jobs, not this.

There is no free market system... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040823)

Anywhere. In almost every country, politicians are purchased by local business interests and serve as little more than "useful idiots" in the service of the wealthy. That's the world as it is, not as you learned it in civics class.

The actual figure is 31% (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 2 years ago | (#40040875)

It's 250% only on companies which will start selling to US newly. Existing companies will pay only 31% tariff.

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