Breakingviews posts an insightful column and applauds the definancialization of the economy:
But finance helps the economy in much the same way the way a police force or an army helps keep the peace. Countries would be delighted to get the same order with fewer forces. They should be equally happy to get the same production and trade with less finance. Finance is a cost — not a benefit — of maintaining a complicated economy.
The Journal is good on the Chinese dairy scandal, getting on the ground to talk to farmers.
About two years ago, farmers and Chinese authorities say, some manufacturers offered a new version of protein powder that they said could still fool dairies that had caught on to other protein additives. It contained melamine, but wasn’t labeled as such. “Everyone just called it protein powder,” says the second farmer. “Nowhere did it say it was melamine, ” he says. “People never thought about it and never thought they needed to know more details.”
Liu Wuqiang, another dairy farmer in Hebei, says, “farmers had no idea it was poisonous.” He says, “We were just afraid that our milk would be returned and wasted.” He says he never added anything to his milk.
Speaking of China, the LA Times has a good look at the country’s “worst manufacturing decline in at least a decade,” which it says is shuttering plants all over the country
Even before the global financial crisis, factory owners in China were straining under soaring labor and raw-material costs, an appreciating Chinese currency and tougher legal, tax and environmental requirements. When the credit crunch took hold — prompting Western businesses to slash orders for Chinese goods and bankers to curtail loans to factories — many operations were pushed over the edge.