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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Knickers

The Western Mail identifies a new economic indicator for Wales, the quality of women's knickers. Dr Molly Scott Cato, a senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, illustrates one of her main arguments against globalisation by talking of her experience buying knickers:

"I have created a special underwear test. This involves holding your underwear up to a source of light to check the strength of the weave. You will be shocked by the result. We are living with knickers our grandmothers would have rejected as shoddy and worthy only of cleaning windows.

"Nonclassical economics would suggest that there is a market opportunity here for somebody who produced a decent pair of underwear. I would certainly pay a premium price. But instead, all suppliers of these items are competing on price, outsourcing production to Vietnam or the Philippines, using only the cheapest materials, so that knickers are see-through and fall apart within months. This is the way the best profits are made, and the best knickers are no longer of any concern."

She adds, "On a more serious note, this is an inevitable consequence of the concentration on shareholder value. M&S has come under pressure from shareholders, in part because it was one of the companies which tried to show commitment to an indigenous workforce in the UK.

"Shareholder value forces managers to squeeze the last penny out of the production cycle, sacrificing quality to profits."

On the other hand she could just be going to the wrong shops. This observed phenomenon could equally be attributed to the growth of a consumer-led throwaway society and have nothing to do with globalisation at all.
Comments:
My bet would be that quality knickers are also made in China.

My guess is that as labour costs are lower, material costs have more impact on the final price, so cheap underwear is more tempting to buy and better stocked.
 
Must be the funniest post I've ever read. Reminds me of the bashing grannies. How old is this woman.
 
I would have guessed Molly to be about 10 years older than me, so that would be 45.

Not seen her for some years, since leaving the Green Party, obviously.
 
I think knicker quality is definitely a key indicator. Another sign of falling standards of living. Ah well, I don't need to worry about house prices anymore.
 
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