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Bonacich is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside. In this interview, she explains how global retailers, like Wal-Mart, have wrested control of the supply chain from manufacturers through a revolution in information technology and logistics. Capitalizing on technological innovations like the bar code, says Bonacich, has allowed Wal- Mart to "master the process of production, the movement of goods, the warehousing of goods, to make sure it arrives at the right place at the right time. And they're very good at squeezing the price out of that." But, she argues, this efficiency has been at the expense of the American
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worker and the loss of American jobs. "What is going on is that manufacturing is leaving the United States … and moving to poorer and poorer countries," Bonacich tells FRONTLINE. "And some people describe this as a 'race to the bottom,' because the various developing countries are vying for the work and are vying by undercutting each other…" Bracy is Wal-Mart's vice president for federal and international public affairs. In this interview, he describes how the company turned to global sourcing as far back as the 1970s to obtain merchandise at the low costs so the company could pass the savings on to consumers. He estimates that Wal-Mart imports approximately $15 billion in goods from China each year. Bracy argues that by being candid and negotiating with its suppliers to get merchandise at the lowest possible cost, Wal-Mart is helping its suppliers become more efficient. "I think most [suppliers] that I've heard from will say that we are tough, that we're demanding, but they also say we're fair," he tells FRONTLINE. Bracy argues that U.S. manufacturers are being squeezed by the high costs of doing business in America, including health care, tax rates and government regulations, that are beyond Wal-Mart's control, and he maintains that the company has an obligation to provide its consumers with low prices.
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A professor of sociology at Duke University, Gereffi has studied the recent power shift in the world economy from the manufacturing sector to the retail sector, and the migration of manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to China and other East Asian countries. In this interview, he explains how global retailers like Wal-Mart have used new technologies to gain control of the supply chain and how they have thus driven the process of shifting U.S. manufacturing jobs
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