Lock 14

Tuesday, May 27, marked the last of our excursions/learning walks in the Foreign Trade Zone series. With a group of eight people we went out to look at a US Silica sand mine in Ottawa, the town where the Fox River empties into the Illinois. All our walks are documented here. Surely next year there will be some new proposals about how to continue this activity. It’s too interesting — too valuable — too engaging — too much fun to give up. But we can imagine something different, better, more open, more activist, let’s see. After the visit to Ottawa, …

River as Warehouse

In this Oct. 25, 2013 photo, petroleum coke, or petcoke, is stored on barges on the Calumet River near the Chicago Skyway Bridge in Chicago. The grainy black byproduct of oil refining has been piling up along Midwest shipping channels and sparking a new wave of environmental concerns. The volume and size of petcoke piles has grown sharply, especially in the Midwest. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) reblogged from ThinkProgress Two environmental groups on Monday sent a letter to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, saying they intend to file a lawsuit against them for polluting a primarily low-income area …

Analyzing the development of a logistics hub

One of the things you realize when looking at corporate operations is that they imitate each other, all around the world. Or rather, they try to outdo each other along particular paths. They call it “benchmarking,” which means that whenever anyone gets results, the new process that they use to do so becomes the standard for everyone. Recognizing this dynamic, a couple of MIT students, Daniel Muñoz and Liliana Rivera, wrote a master’s thesis that begins with Singapore and Dubai, analyzes them as successful logistics hubs, observes the effects of their success on the regional environment, then uses the model …

The View from the Colon Free Trade Zone

In 1696 the Scotsman William Patersen had visions of a Panama Canal: “The time and expense of navigation to China, Japan, the Spice Islands, and the far greatest part of the East Indies will be lessened more than half, and the consumption of European commodities and manufactures will soon be more than doubled. Trade will increase trade, and money will beget money, and the trading world shall need no more want work for their hands, but will rather want hands for their work.

Report from Lázaro Cárdenas

This is a huge terminal, three shifts, 1,000 employees, the only port in Mexico that can admit the new post-Panamax ships built by Maersk and others. The harbor is 17 meters deep with two broad channels on either side of an isthmus, on which the container terminal is located. It’s an industrial port first of all, with a privatized steel plant (one of two in Mexico) and a fertilizer plant as well, plus oil operations which we didn’t get into at all. Apparently they don’t move much grain.

On the Road to Kansas City

Notes on a Continuing Project …Actually what we are working on is not just FTZs, but instead, the logistics boom and the entire phenomenon of “trade corridors,” as a way to understand the economic and infrastructural basis of a society that is increasingly oriented to global free trade. A lot has been said about deindustrialization and offshoring, but very little about the surging growth of the container transport and warehousing industries that underlie the new hyperconsumption model of foreign-made products, big-box stores and Internet retailers. The theory of these new economic flows is “global supply chain management.”