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How fast are semiconductor prices falling?

May 22, 2015 Comments off

How fast are semiconductor prices falling?
Source: American Enterprise Institute

Editor’s note: This paper has been updated from the original version posted in July 2014.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) for the United States suggests that semiconductor prices have barely been falling in recent years, a dramatic contrast from the rapid declines reported from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. This slowdown in the rate of decline is puzzling in light of evidence that the performance of microprocessor units (MPUs) has continued to improve at a rapid pace. Roughly coincident with the shift to slower price declines in the PPI, Intel — the leading producer of MPUs — substantially changed its pricing behavior for these chips. As a result of this change, we argue that the matched-model methodology used in the PPI for MPUs likely started to be biased in the mid-2000s and that hedonic indexes can provide a more accurate measure of price change since then. Our preferred hedonic index of MPU prices tracks the PPI closely through 2004. However, from 2004 to 2008, our preferred index fell faster than the PPI, and from 2008 to 2013 the gap widened further, with our preferred index falling at an average annual rate of 43 percent, while the PPI declined at only an 8 percent rate. Given that MPUs currently represent about half of U.S. shipments of semiconductors, this difference has important implications for gauging the rate of innovation in the semiconductor sector.

HHS OIG — FDA Has Made Progress on Oversight and Inspections of Manufacturers of Generic Drugs

May 11, 2015 Comments off

FDA Has Made Progress on Oversight and Inspections of Manufacturers of Generic Drugs
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
OIG received a Congressional request expressing concerns about the safety and quality of generic drugs produced by foreign manufacturers and requesting that OIG evaluate whether FDA is achieving parity in inspections of foreign and domestic manufacturers. In 2012, nearly 80 percent of prescriptions filled in the United States were for generic drugs. But in recent years, several recalls of generic drugs have raised concerns about FDA’s oversight of manufacturers.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We analyzed FDA data for inspections and registered manufacturers of generic drugs for 2011-2013 to determine the number and types of inspections. We also analyzed FDA data to determine whether manufacturers listed on approved applications had registered with FDA as required. We also analyzed FDA records and interviewed FDA staff to determine the extent to which it is progressing toward achieving parity in domestic and foreign inspections and more efficient processes for inspections.

WHAT WE FOUND
FDA increased its preapproval inspections of manufacturers of generic drugs by 60 percent between 2011 and 2013. However, it did not conduct all of the preapproval inspections requested by its own generic drug application reviewers during this time period. The graphic below illustrates the distribution of generic manufacturers and surveillance inspections worldwide (for more information, see Table 4 in the report).
In 2013, FDA conducted surveillance inspections of all generic manufacturers that it had identified as high risk. FDA also reported progress towards achieving parity in inspections of foreign and domestic manufacturers of generic drugs and ensuring compliance with generic manufacturer registration. Finally, FDA has created some policies and procedures to request manufacturer records in lieu or in advance of an inspection, but has not yet used these procedures to request records.

Medicinal products in the European Union: The legal framework for medicines for human use

April 6, 2015 Comments off

Medicinal products in the European Union: The legal framework for medicines for human use
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

EU legislation on human medicines goes back 50 years. Its twofold aim is to safeguard public health without hindering development of the European pharmaceutical industry or trade in medicinal products. The regulatory framework is complex and covers the entire lifecycle of a medicine, from manufacture, to clinical trials, to marketing authorisation, to pharmacovigilance and patient information. Added to that, the principles of good manufacturing, distribution and pharmacovigilance practice contribute to increasing medicines’ safety. An emerging approach to granting early access to medicines – adaptive pathways – could prove its future merits for patients with a medical condition not adequately addressed by an existing therapy.

Annual Survey of Manufactures: 2013

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Annual Survey of Manufactures: 2013
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

National-level data for manufacturing industry groups and industries at the three-, four-, five- and six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) levels. Provides statistics on employment, payroll, supplemental labor costs, cost of materials consumed, operating expenses, value of shipments, value added by manufacturing, fuels and electric energy used, and inventories. Also provides statistics for each state and the District of Columbia as well as product shipments statistics at the seven-digit product class level. Survey statistics are released annually except for years ending in 2 and 7, at which time they are included in the manufacturing sector of the economic census.

CRS — U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Support (January 27, 2015)

February 11, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Support (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Every President since Richard Nixon has sought to increase U.S. energy supply diversity. Job creation and the development of a domestic renewable energy manufacturing base have joined national security and environmental concerns as reasons for promoting the manufacturing of solar power equipment in the United States. The federal government maintains a variety of tax credits and targeted research and development programs to encourage the solar manufacturing sector, and state-level mandates that utilities obtain specified percentages of their electricity from renewable sources have bolstered demand for large solar projects.

The most widely used solar technology involves photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, which draw on semiconducting materials to convert sunlight into electricity. By year-end 2013, the total number of grid-connected PV systems nationwide reached more than 445,000. Domestic demand is met both by imports and by about 75 U.S. manufacturing facilities employing upwards of 30,000 U.S. workers in 2014. Production is clustered in a few states including California, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter

February 3, 2015 Comments off

America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter
Source: Brookings Institution

The need for economic renewal in the United States remains urgent. Years of disappointing job growth and stagnant incomes for the majority of workers have left the nation shaken and frustrated. At the same time, astonishing new technologies—ranging from advanced robotics and “3-D printing” to the “digitization of everything”—are provoking genuine excitement even as they make it hard to see where things are going.

Hence this paper: At a critical moment, this report asserts the special importance to America’s future of what the paper calls America’s “advanced industries” sector.

Characterized by its deep involvement with technology research and development (R&D) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers, the sector encompasses 50 industries ranging from manufacturing industries such as automaking and aerospace to energy industries such as oil and gas extraction to high-tech services such as computer software and computer system design, including for health applications.

These industries encompass the nation’s “tech” sector at its broadest and most consequential. Their dynamism is going to be a central component of any future revitalized U.S. economy. As such, these industries encompass the country’s best shot at supporting innovative, inclusive, and sustainable growth. For that reason, this report provides a wide-angle overview of the advanced industry sector that reviews its role in American prosperity, assesses key trends, and maps its metropolitan and global competitive standing before outlining high-level strategies to enhance that.

China — Labor Rights Violations Continue in the Toy Industry

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Labor Rights Violations Continue in the Toy Industry
Source: China Labor Watch

China Labor Watch (CLW) today published a 66-page investigative report on continued labor rights violations in the toy industry. The four-factory investigation includes plants that manufacture for Mattel and Fisher-Price, Disney, Hasbro, Crayola, and other major international toy brand companies. During the investigation, the factories were making toys like Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Transformers’ Optimus Prime, and Thomas the Tank Engine.

The investigation, carried out from June to November 2014, targeted labor conditions in four facilities in Guangdong, China: Mattel Electronics Dongguan (MED), Zhongshan Coronet Toys (Coronet), Dongguan Chang’an Mattel Toys 2nd Factory (MCA), and Dongguan Lung Cheong Toys (Lung Cheong).

Collecting data through undercover probes and off-site worker interviews, the investigation exposes a set of 20 legal and ethical labor violations that include hiring discrimination, detaining workers’ personal IDs, lack of physical exams despite hazardous working conditions, workers required to sign training forms despite little or no safety training, a lack of protective equipment, ill-maintained production machinery, fire safety concerns, incomplete or nonexistent labor contracts, overtime hours of up to 120 hours per month, unpaid wages, underpaid social insurance, frequent rotation between day and night shifts, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, illegal resignation procedures, abusive management, audit fraud, and a lack of effective grievance channels and union representation.

See also: Working Conditions and Factory Auditing in the Chinese Toy Industry (Congressional-Executive Commission on China)
Hat tip: IWS Documented News Service

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