Well, hurray everyone. I’m submitting this post from Bentonville, Arkansas, a beautiful place with exciting mountain biking trails into the neighboring Ozarks.
The sky is like champagne, the sky is bright blue, the leaves are turning red and gold in that uniquely American way – and I am witnessing an economic miracle; and a lesson on how free and open markets remain essential to world peace.
I don’t think I’ve ever consciously been to Arkansas in my life. The only political fact I can remember about this state of about three million people is that Bill Clinton was governor; and when he started his campaign to become president in 1992, he did something extraordinary and reprehensible.
He flew back to the capital, Little Rock, with the sole intention of signing a governor’s order to proceed with the execution of an African American named Ricky Ray Rector – who had killed two people before shooting himself in the head in some sort of car . -lobotomy. There were many lawyers who believed that the death penalty was cruel and wrong because the principal was clearly not of sound mind.
As a result of his injuries, he would howl like a wolf, and when he was given his last meal – before being taken away to receive his lethal injection – he asked the guards to keep his pudding, a piece of pecan pie. , ‘for later’.
Well, the protests of the liberal lawyers were in vain. Clinton was under pressure to demonstrate his tough law-and-order reputation, and there was no later for Ricky Ray.
However, you will be happy to know that the prison guards respected his wishes. They saved his pecan pie.
This is emphatically not the time to end economic interdependence between China and the West, writes Boris Johnson
I expect it was a pretty good pie, and it took a while before it had to be thrown away – and that’s because it’s statistically overwhelmingly likely that the prison pecan pie came from the #1 grocery store in Arkansas and even from the world. .
It’s a store where 95 percent of Americans between the ages of 19 and 34 buy their food.
So I’ll bet you a dime on the dollar that the pecan pie was a Walmart pie. It was here in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 1950 that former Boy Scout champion and U.S. Army Captain Sam Walton founded the first store – Walton’s – that would in time become Walmart. And although he died in 1992 at the age of 74, his already vast empire has been expanded by his descendants to become a leviathan of barely believable proportions.
Walmart is not only the largest private sector employer in the world – bigger than Amazon, bigger than McDonald’s, etc. – it is the largest employer of any kind. With 2.3 million ’employees’ it has more people on the payroll than the Chinese military – which has 1.9 million. It is bigger than the NHS – at 1.7 million.
And although it has now outsold Asda in Britain, Walmart continues to grow all the time: in Asia, in Africa, in India (where it has cracked the online market).
Not only is it the world’s largest employer, it also has the largest turnover of any company in the world – around $611 billion (£500 billion) – and on its shelves around the world you’ll find 400 million different lines.
Yes, you read that right: there are 400 million different types of products, from shoes to smartphones, from chocolates to toys. What, you may ask, is the secret to this continued commercial success?
I’ll tell you in one word. It’s China.
The last thing we need is a confrontation with China over Taiwan – and that’s why we must stop President Xi Jinping from making any miscalculation, writes Boris Johnson.
When Sam Walton started working in the 1950s, he tried all sorts of things to gain an edge over his competitors — like the Walmart “group cheer,” a motivational chant to build employee morale that he discovered after visiting a Korean tennis ball. factory.
But in the end, there was one thing that made the difference: there was no one better than Sam Walton at buying low and raising.
He and his brother flew around the US looking for bargains, and then they flew around the world. As China opened up, Walmart took advantage of that country’s extraordinary ability to produce goods at low prices.
The company has hundreds of stores in China and has sales of more than $10 billion there. But that hardly does justice to the extent of the relationship. Today, about 80 percent of Walmart’s manufactured goods (as opposed to groceries) come at least in part from China.
Get a Walmart vacuum cleaner. It consists of 92 percent parts from China. Walmart is trying to get as much from the US as possible, and if they really tried, they could cut this to 80 percent – but the work would probably go to other Chinese companies in Vietnam or the Philippines. The same goes for laptops and bicycles.
In other words, Walmart’s operations are integrally linked to China – and at a time when people in both the US and Britain are talking about the threat of China and the need to ‘decouple’, we need to seriously consider the implications .
The simple reality is that the American and Chinese economies are physically intertwined like Siamese twins.
What would happen if we really tried to banish China from our supply chains – in both Britain and the US? There would be enormous value destruction and enormous inflationary pressure. It would be a disaster.
The world is going through a very difficult period. We are facing a terrible crisis in Israel; we are facing the worst war in Europe for 80 years. The last thing we need is a confrontation with China over Taiwan – and that’s why we must stop President Xi Jinping from making any miscalculation.
That’s one of the reasons why we need the Ukrainians so badly to win and push Putin out. If Ukraine falls, the world’s autocracies will be further emboldened, and if Xi Jinping goes ahead and invades Taiwan, as many fear he will, it will be a tragedy: for China, and for Taiwan – and for us in the West: because the pressure for sanctions and economic withdrawal on both sides would be enormous.
What’s holding him back? There is the military risk of failure – the fear that an invasion could go wrong, just as it went so catastrophically wrong for Putin. By helping Ukraine, the US and Britain are increasing that risk – and we must continue to do so.
But then there is another consideration. It’s not just American consumers and Walmart shareholders who benefit from trade with China; of course it is the Chinese themselves. Think of how many jobs these exports have created in China, how many Chinese lives have been changed for the better.
Yes, of course we have to be wary of China, and we went too far in the ‘Golden Age’ by allowing China into our nuclear and other crucial sectors such as 5G telecommunications. But this is emphatically not the time to end economic interdependence between China and the West.
It is autarky* that leads to aggression, and free trade that leads to peace and prosperity; and what’s good for Walmart is probably good for America and the world. Think of the 1930s.