Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fun with CIA Factbook Propaganda...

I was looking to see how well EYM - ishares Malaysia - correlated with actual industries in Malaysia. OK, I was kind of bored. So I Googled. Bear with me, there's a cool payoff for reading all of this...

And what did I get? Well, inter alia, the "CIA Factbook" entries on Malaysia...which helpfully listed their industries as:

Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging

Then again, I also got this helpful link from the Malaysia Industrial Development Authority:

The electrical and electronics industry is Malaysia's leading industrial sector, contributing significantly to the country's manufacturing output, exports and employment. In 2004, gross output of the industry totalled RM183.1 billion (US$48.2 billion), while the industry's exports of electrical and electronics products amounted to RM241.5 billion (US$63.6 billion) or 64.1% of total manufactured exports. The industry created 369,488 jobs opportunities, accounting for 36.6% of total employment in the manufacturing sector.

That kind of made me go "Hmmmm...." Why does the CIA factbook list electical and electronics after rubber, oil, and tin mining?

Could it be possible that the CIA "Factbook" gets other countries wrong?

Let's try, oh, say the United States (using the link above to the CIA factbook):

leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining

How odd: "aerospace" and "electronics"...but no specific category of defense.

Counting US companies alone, that's a $148 billion dollar industry. And that's quite an undercount: for example, BAE Systems, a "UK" company, does lots of business in the US, with US development. And "small businesses" and university grants are excluded from that list.

However, that's not the end of the story; the US propaganda continues here:

US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. The rise in GDP in 2004 and 2005 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity. The economy suffered from a sharp increase in energy prices in mid-2005, but by late in the year those prices dropped back to earlier levels. Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage in the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, but had a small impact on overall GDP growth for the year. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.

What's missing/left out/shaded oddly?

  • CEO salaries...and not "technology" is why incomes have been stagnating.

  • Have your gas prices gone "back to earlier levels?" (Even late last year they were still high.

  • "The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy." - money was pumped into it by the Fed, creating a housing bubble.

You can add your own.

One more interesting tidbit: for the US, on "Disputes International," it says:

prolonged drought, population growth, and outmoded practices and infrastructure in the border region strains water-sharing arrangements with Mexico; the US has stepped up efforts to stem nationals from Mexico, Central America, and other parts of the world from crossing illegally into the US from Mexico; illegal immigrants from the Caribbean, notably Haiti and the Dominican Republic, attempt to enter the US through Florida by sea; 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement in the Bering Sea still awaits Russian Duma ratification; managed maritime boundary disputes with Canada at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around the disputed Machias Seal Island and North Rock; US and Canada seek greater cooperation in monitoring people and commodities crossing the border; The Bahamas and US have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary; US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the area can terminate the lease; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island; US has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other state; Marshall Islands claims Wake Island

Gee, I get the feeling something's missing there too!


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