2011 Year in Review: World Events
This week, Promo Marketing is looking at the stories that helped define 2011. From Monday through Thursday we will recap the year's major news in four different areas: industry news, politics, product safety and world events. Check PromoMarketing.com each day, and vote in our Friday poll for the most important story of the year.
2011 Year in Review: World Events
The promotional products business is large, a $16.5 billion dollar industry, more or less equivalent to the gross domestic product of Bosnia. By that metric, this industry would rank 105 of all countries in the world. Unsurprisingly, the world of promotional products feels the effects of major international events, and 2011 found several of them. Financial, economic and natural disasters both at home and abroad caused issues for industries everywhere, some of which will have the effects felt long into 2012 and beyond.
Cotton Tops $2 for the First Time
For the first time ever, the cost of cotton exceeded $2 a pound in New York this February. Significantly increased interest in cotton from China, combined with drought conditions in cotton-producing areas like Texas, saw the price jump from $1.70 per pound in January to as high as $2.26 in March. Although the price of cotton only remained above $2 for three months, the increased costs of goods has lasted far longer; many manufacturers locked in deals with cotton producers just as the prices increased, so even as the price per pound of cotton drops below $1, mills are still held to their contract prices and are passing those prices on to buyers.
Tsunami Hits Pacific Coast of Japan
On Friday, March 11, an undersea 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific Coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami which swept Sendai, destroying much of the region. The earthquake was one of the five most powerful ever recorded, and the resulting tsunami created waves up to 40.5 meters high. Over 15,000 deaths were confirmed as a result of the disaster, and multiple nuclear reactors suffered meltdowns due to the catastrophic damage. Much of the world was impacted by supply chain breaks caused by the incident, especially electronics industries, which saw shortages in popular components like LCD screens and flash memory.
China Surpasses U.S. Manufacturing to Become World's Largest Producer
In March, China accounted for 19.8 percent of all of the world's manufacturing, compared to 19.4 percent for the United States, making it the largest manufacturer in the world. It was the first time any nation surpassed the U.S. in the post-war period. It was the first of many signs in 2011 of China's burgeoning economy. Despite producing more as a nation, it was revealed that China's proportion of manufacturing was larger than any other country, while U.S. workers were "generating eight times the value per person than China's."
Tornadoes in U.S. South Kill Hundreds, Shut Down Businesses
Late April saw nearly 300 tornadoes appear in the U.S. South and Southeast, shutting down entire towns and killing hundreds in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. Promotional products supplier Gold Bond was forced to shut down its plant due to the severe weather, and several automobile manufacturers in the area also idled plants due to power failures and safety concerns.
Hurricane Irene Strikes East Coast
Hurricane Irene made U.S. landfall on August 27, hitting North Carolina's Outer Banks in the early morning. At its strongest a Category 3 storm, it was lowered to Category 1 by the time it hit North America. Despite that, the storm still caused considerable destruction, totaling over $7 billion in damage as it made its way up the East Coast. The storm touched down on each coastal state between North Carolina and Maine over the weekend. Prior heavy rains in upstate New York and New England made the areas especially susceptible, and flooding was seen in many parts following the Hurricane. At least 47 American deaths were attributed to the storm.
Tropical Storm Lee Floods Northeast
Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irene, the Northeast United States suffered more severe rainfall in early September. Regions in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania experienced record flooding, with some cities completely shutting down and evacuating. A state of emergency was declared in each state, and some suppliers such as Points of Light were forced to close due to the flooding, as nearby rivers overflowed into the streets.
China Increases Bank Lending; Federal Reserve Reduces Loan Costs
In an unprecedented move, the People's Bank of China, which is controlled by the Chinese government, announced it would loosen its monetary policies in December to encourage lending and spending in its country. A month prior, the country's manufacturing and real estate indexes both showed significant drops, and the move was seen as a sign that the country's leaders are looking to increase its purchasing power and global influence. On the same day, the Federal Reserve announced a plan to lower interest rates on the U.S. dollar, hoping to encourage struggling countries to borrow more money. Both China and the Federal Reserve insisted the timing of the two announcements was coincidental.