Free Markets, Free People
The other day this sort of slipped under the media radar:
First Solar Inc. will lay off 2,000 workers and close its factory in Germany following a collapse in solar panel prices that has erased the industry’s profits and forced some smaller companies into bankruptcy.
America’s biggest solar manufacturer said the layoffs amount to 30 percent of its global workforce.
B..b..but why!? Green shoots, alternative energy, clean energy, what the frack?!
This is the future, the government says so! How did it all go so wrong? How in the world could solar panel prices “collapse”?
An influx of Chinese competitors has led to a rapid buildup in supply. At the same time governments in Europe, the biggest market for solar power, are reducing generous subsidy programs that had fueled demand. From March to December last year, solar panel prices dropped 50 percent, said Aaron Chew, an analyst with the Maxim Group.
That damn “supply and demand” thingy again, right?
So let me get this straight … cheap foreign product (subsidized by the Chinese government) flooded the market created by government subsidized demand, driving up supply while lowering the price. Meanwhile the false demand that had been supported by “generous [government] subsidy programs” ended (thus ending the “demand”). Consequently there is no demand for the current over supply and no one is buying the stuff?
Wow … who could have seen that coming?
And the current producer can’t make a profit and thus has to lay off people?
You know, when you’ve seen the same thing over and over and over again (see Einstein’s definition of insanity), sometimes you just have to resort to sarcasm.
By the way for the terminally slow – news flash – that supply and demand thingy also seems to work in the petroleum market as well.
Apparently the only jobs the massive "stimulus" may have saved, at least temporarily, were government jobs. Now, even those are in jeopardy as state and local governments are forced to deal with the reality of their fiscal situation:
Up to 400,000 workers could lose jobs in the next year as states, counties and cities grapple with lower revenue and less federal funding, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com.
Layoffs by state and local governments moderated in June, with 10,000 jobs trimmed. That was down from 85,000 job losses the first five months of the year and about 190,000 since June 2009. But the pain is likely to worsen.
States face a cumulative $140 billion budget gap in fiscal 2011, which began July 1 for most, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
While general-fund tax revenue is projected to rise 3.7% as the economy rebounds in the coming year, it still will be 8%, or $53 billion, below fiscal 2008 levels, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
And that means that states will not be able to afford some of the services or staff they presently employ. And that, of course, means layoffs and even more workers seeking jobs. While to this point, many state and localities have been able to avoid layoffs by offering furloughs, that option is no longer viable for most.
And economic growth isn’t looking all that hot either. Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner is amending his third quarter economic growth estimate from 1.9% to 1.5%.
If this is a recovery, I’d hate to see a depression.