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  March 1st, 2013 | Written by

199 Brands of Beer on the Wall

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We’ve all heard the song, “99 bottles of beer on the wall,” but how about “199 brands of beer”?

That’s the number of brands beer giant InBev has, and growing. Just how global has the beer market become in the U.S.? Consider that InBev (think Stella Artois plus 199 other brands) owns Anheuser-Busch and now wants to buy Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo (think Corona and Pacifico plus six other brands). If the deal goes through, that would give InBev a 46 percent share of the U.S. beer market. The Justice Department, however, has filed suit to halt the deal, saying it would allow InBev to corner the price of beer in the U.S. Really? Earth to Justice: Why not look into the legality of spending $1 trillion more than we take in, and how that has raised the debt owed by each American family to $128,000—up from $60,000 in 2008? Thanks for thinking about our beer consumption, but the government’s out of control spending has cost each household $68,000 over the past four years—and that buys a lot of six packs.

Betting long on Russia?

Mirny Diamond Mine in Siberia Are the Russians digging themselves into a hole.
  Mirny Diamond Mine in Siberia   Are the Russians digging themselves into a hole?

You may want to rethink that. Russia has a fundamental problem in that its birthrate is on the decline. Its current population of 145 million is projected to shrink to between 90 million to 125 million by 2050. It’s awfully hard to grow your economy when your workforce is shrinking, unless you switch to robotic manufacturing which thus far Russia has shied away from. Instead, they have gone to the other extreme and seem content to export raw materials. This doesn’t do much to lift the middle class and may not do much in the long term for your Russian exports, either.

I’ve never been to a Quiznos and, quite frankly, I think it was a strange name to have chosen.

U.S. subs surface in Manila Bay Quiznos betting the world is ready for another American menu.
U.S. subs surface in Manila Bay Quiznos betting the world is ready for another American menu.

But I’ll give them this: they know how to leverage their operation into global markets. The company just inked a deal with a Mexican partner to open 150 restaurants in Mexico over the next decade and has announced plans to open 1,000 international locations in 40 countries by 2020. Saying it is one thing, doing it is quite another. But, as our web editor Michael White points out, given their recent expansion into the Philippines, India and Latin America—particularly Brazil and Paraguay, where it opened the first of five new restaurants last September in the new Shopping Pinedo mall in Asuncion—I would say they are well on their way. It will be interesting to follow their success.

So President Obama wants to raise the minimum wage to $9?

Not really … that was just another political hand grenade he lobbed into the House. Surely he must know that raising the minimum wage at this juncture in our recovery would be a job killer. And, surely he knows that the House would never approve it. Nonetheless, he—and therefore the Dems—gets the credit for bringing it up which will help them in the next congressional elections, while the Republicans will once again have to step forward, become the “responsible parent” and take the blame for shelving it—killjoys that they are. Politically, this is a brilliant but self-serving move by the White House, because all this minimum-wage voter block will remember is that the Democrats wanted to raise the minimum wage and the Republicans killed it. But stop the presses: Let’s say the Republicans went along with it and let the Democrats take all the credit—and responsibility. Then, when unemployment stays high as a result, the Republicans could say “I told you so.” It just may be that the Republican Party needs to give the other side enough rope to hang itself if it ever wants to stage a political comeback.

Remember that scene in The Graduate?

Star employeesHey Joe… Did you remember to pay your union dues this month?
Star employees
Hey Joe… Did you remember to pay your union dues this month?

The one where Mr. McGuire (Walter Brooke) pulls a young Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) aside and says, “I’ve got one word for you. Plastics.” Fast forward to 2013 and the one word is now robotics. Whichever country takes the lead in robotic manufacturing will take the lead in global trade. Robotics will level the playing field for low-cost manufacturing and potentially make the U.S. as competitive as, say, Vietnam for export goods. Couple our lead in robotics with lower energy costs from increased domestic production and the U.S. could be poised for its greatest export boom ever.