American Factory is a documentary published on Netflix about a week ago. There are many reasons that helped its success, being produced by Obamas helps. However, what you take from it is absolutely up to you, be it the difficult reality of workers in Ohio or what I’d say many people in the developed world are used to in contrast with tough working conditions in China (The Economist).
I think it rarely happens that one documentary covers many questions that have been keeping investors busy this year. My take is:
- it’s fairly eye opening to get first hand look into the lives of people in the Rust Belt and why their political choices can make a lot of sense
- many people are not ready for the world where we need to interact far more across cultures
- if Chinese see Americans as living overly comfortable lives, it makes me wonder what would they think about Europe
- Private Chinese companies are a force to be reckoned with going forward
- it probably matters a lot whether standards converge by Chinese workers’ requirements increasing or western standards getting pushed lower as that probably wouldn’t be an option in many places. Having said that, Chinese workers are increasingly pushing for better treatment so the upward trend is already a reality.
- Automation might mean that the previous point doesn’t necessarily have an obvious happy ending for workers anywhere
- and obviously many thoughts on trade war and China – America (in)dependence. When even Chinese businesses producing in the US are under pressure (e.g. CRRC), what’s the point and what’s the end game?
As a side note, Fuyao Glass, the company featured in the movie, has Hong Kong listing under ticker 3606 HK. If you’re afraid (as I am) of buying bombed out Chinese car makers as there might be no winner eventually due to competition, knowing that Fuyao dominates the Chinese market for automotive glass might allow you to sleep better although it also didn’t drop as much as other sectors.
If you have any view on Fuyao stock or want to share what you took from the documentary, please do so in the comments below!
Update: there’s a nice article on SCMP about Fuyao. Obviously the auto sector slow down is an issue but it’s completely different competitive environment in glass.