Saturday, October 22, 2011

An American toaster

Five years ago, when China's manufacturing quality was at its worst, I used the crummy toaster crisis as a missing-middle example. It was easy then to find cheap goods that were crummy, and with difficulty one might find luxury or industrial goods that might be reliable, but the market for quality goods at a reasonable price had evaporated.

A cheap toaster might cost $25, but a $75 toaster wasn't any better.

Since then, a few things have changed. With the Lesser depression Americans started to pay attention to how long things lasted. China's own internal markets have, I suspect, become more demanding. I think the quality of manufactured goods is better than it used to be.

About two years ago a small repair business started selling a Wide-Slot Automatic Pop up Toaster Made in the U.S.A. for about $350. Now it's down to $265 for an "introductory price". Clearly, this is a luxury good purchase.

Still, the price is coming down. Perhaps a large scale manufacturer will pick it up, particularly as China's currency (mercifully) appreciates against the US dollar. Perhaps one day a $150 US made toaster will sell as a luxury good in China, and a quality good in the US.

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