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rare earths

Rare Earths – An Update

Rare earths, those 17 elements critical for many industries (defense, electronics, smart devices, etc) are a continuing global supply chain issue.  2 years ago we wrote an article, that summarized the situation as of mid-2019.  Now there’s more news. Both Trump and Biden administrations have made some noise to improve the US supply of these minerals.  Currently, China provides about 80% of worldwide rare earths.  Fortunately, several other countries are ramping up supply efforts, particularly… Read More


Rare Earths: Once Again With Feeling!

”Chinese state media is now suggesting that rare earth (17 elements that serve as key components in devices ranging from defense weapons, lasers, hi-tech smartphones and cameras to flat-screen televisions and computers) exports to the US could be cut in retaliation for American measures sparking fear among manufacturers.  If Beijing chooses to make good on these threats, the impact on US manufacturers could be disastrous”. Rare earths are present and critical in such vital items… Read More


Rare Earths – Continued

If your supply chain includes items involving rare earths, a recent executive order signed by president Trump would be worthy of your attention. According to a Washington Post article from December 20, 2017, “President Trump signed an executive order….instructing his deputies to devise a strategy to reduce the nation’s reliance on critical minerals that are largely imported and used to produce everything from smartphones to weaponry”.  If this means the government is going to take… Read More


Rare Earth Update

We’ve found frequent news about rare earth metals.  Last year there was considerable strategic concern, and we are relieved to learn this is not the only opinion. From the May 05, 2015 tech blog Gizmodo comes this:  “Rare earth elements are hard-to-find metals that we need for batteries, solar cells and electronics. These days, they’re mostly mined and processed in China. But it wasn’t always so. The history of rare earth elements is surprising, and some… Read More


Are Rare Earth Elements a purchaser’s nightmare?

If not today, then perhaps tomorrow? Lurking near the surface, but under the public awareness these days is an issue that might have great economic consequences in the years ahead. And that issue is the supply of rare earth elements (REE), which are critical components to a great number of things. We became aware of REE supply issues because of an ongoing interest in solar energy (energy in general, for that matter). While Proficient Sourcing… Read More


Supply Chain Problems: Just the Beginning?

The past year has witnessed all manner of economic disruptions due to supply chain problems.  We have seen how these problems have interrupted and delayed manufacturing supply systems, and possibly given reshoring efforts an unexpected boost. Manufacturing over the past 50 years or so has required ever more sophisticated and complex use of new minerals to produce defense systems, computers and other electronic devices, exotic superalloys are now needed for many specialized purposes.  Among others,… Read More


Chips for United States

Big current news stories summarize nicely the economic effect caused by semiconductor chip shortages.  The big stories were car prices skyrocket and Intel, once the world’s #1 chip producer, is building an enormous chip factory near Columbus, OH.  Here’s the Reuters story on that: Jan 21 (Reuters) – “Intel Corp said on Friday it would invest up to $100 billion to build potentially the world’s largest chip-making complex in Ohio, looking to boost capacity as… Read More


Trade with China—Time to Change Strategy?

It’s obvious that trade with China is essential to the US economy.  The trade imbalance, tariffs, intellectual property rights, investments in one country by the other, or required partnerships are all cited one way or another as major barriers to commercial peace, fairness, and justification for sanctions.  Does all this make sense?   A September 16, 2021 commentary article in the Carnagie Endowmant for International Peace argues that all these factors are not necessarily etched in stone and can… Read More


Reshoring: The Case Strengthens

Several important current news factors support reshoring manufacturing as a high priority for the US.  Among these factors are efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15, supply chain risks for critical items such as medical supplies, semiconductors, rare earths, and employment difficulties throughout the economy.  All these strengthen the case for a robust manufacturing sector.  So what to do? As we all know, for decades the private sector has shipped a great deal of… Read More


Our 2021 China Trade Relationship

As we look beyond coronavirus effects, much of how our economy develops in 2021 will depend upon how we deal with China. Obviously there have been significant changes due to the pandemic, and now we have a new administration. Many believe the new administration is more favorably inclined to China, and there are even some reports of China “buying” influence as a widespread problem. Here’s just one example from a San Francisco newsletter: “The inaugural… Read More


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