Thursday, July 21, 2005

Barbie plies the global economy

Here's an interesting article about a familiar cycle of globalization:

1. Taiwanese town becomes manufacturing center, cranking out millions of Barbies and accessories for Mattel.

2. Mattel decamps to locales with even cheaper labor, including the Chinese mainland.

3. Taiwanese town opens a Barbie Museum and becomes tourist destination.

Like the United States and Europe, newly-industrialized nations are now manufacturing less and less and turning to cultural/information products. What happens in 50 years when all manufacturing and outsourceable service work is done in Africa? The rest of the world won't have anything to do but write screenplays and visit Barbie museums.