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United States Hardware Science Technology

President Obama Announces Semiconductor Industry Working Group To Review US Competitiveness (venturebeat.com) 111

The Obama administration has announced the formation of a working group to study issues affecting the US semiconductor industry, especially as they pertain to the nation's economic and security interests. From a report on VentureBeat:Chips are the heart of everything electronic, and they have become a $330 billion worldwide industry. U.S. companies have held the leading market share in the industry -- which puts the "silicon" in Silicon Valley -- for decades. The Semiconductor Working Group includes 11 experts on chips and the broader economy. John Neuffer, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S. industry trade group, said in a statement: "SIA welcomes this timely announcement, given new challenges facing the U.S. semiconductor industry, including unprecedented government investment programs from some countries and the increasing technological complexity involved in achieving new innovation breakthroughs. These developments have implications not only for the economy and society, but also national security. In fact, SIA earlier recommended the Administration form a public-private advisory group to help guide government policy related to improving the competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry.
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President Obama Announces Semiconductor Industry Working Group To Review US Competitiveness

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Film at 11.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )
      I was thinking "too little too late", but yours is funnier.
      • It sounds like an eleventh hour plea of those that would hire 20 Americans to manage 2000 H1B's, given the hysterical public record.
    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      Film at 11.

      Well, at least he's trying to do some positive stuff to create a "Legacy" now seeing as he's realized he's trashed race relations and let the Clinton Crime Family funnel billions of dollars into their own pockets.

  • do we want smog like china?

    as that is what is may take to get some factory's back hear.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Better yet, tariff their goods if they don't follow decent pollution and labor laws.

      Why should we let our jobs slip away via lopsided conditions whereby other countries keep their labor cheap, oppressed, and poisoned so that their goods are cheap enough to get our consumer money in order to buy a fat military to use against us and our allies?

      We are double-kicking our own ass: jobs & military

      (I would vote for Trump if he weren't stupid in many other areas outside of trade. Our trade deals DO suck.)

      • Better yet, tariff their goods if they don't follow decent pollution and labor laws.

        ... and then repeal those tariffs when consumers see prices soar for half the stuff we buy, millions of American jobs disappear because China retaliates with their own tariffs and their imports shift to Europe and Japan instead, and Chinese factory jobs move to Mexico instead of returning to America.

        Protectionism is one of those solutions that is "simple, obvious, and wrong".

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          China retaliates with their own tariffs...

          That's fear-mongering. China has much more to lose in a trade-war than we do such that they will likely work something out. Their economy is addicted to exports, we are not. Addicts don't readily give up their drug supply. (We are addicted to oil, but that's another story.)

          and their imports shift to Europe and Japan instead

          They already have more tariffs than we do. We are behind the game.

          Protectionism is one of those solutions that is "simple, obvious, and wrong".

          Co

      • Actually, if you cut off people's livelihoods as such, unemployment soars in those areas and a lot of people go hungry. The same rules apply: they have limited income (limited people are buying, and the monetary systems everywhere have a specific amount of total income from which to spend in a given specific span of time), and all goods and services compete for that income, thus all workers providing said products compete for that income.

        Trade isn't "letting our jobs slip away". The average labor cost

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          I know that's the theory, and simulations tend to bear it out; but real cows aint spherical, and the military issue is rarely factored in.

          So far it looks like the benefits of open trade tend to trickle upward, and the simulation writers don't know why yet. Their models are missing something.

          Japan is fairly protectionist, yet has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. You may argue they have "less stuff" because of that, but it's up to THEM whether jobs are more important than stuff or vice versa

          • I know that's the theory, and simulations tend to bear it out; but real cows aint spherical, and the military issue is rarely factored in.

            Actually, what I stated is based on an analysis of history, not model theory. It's part of why things get cheaper over time [wordpress.com].

            Japan is fairly protectionist, yet has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

            They do, at 3.20%. That's quite-low; anything under 2% is critical, and under 4% is usually not stably-maintained. Their labor force participation rate is 60.4%, comparable to the United States labor force participation rate of 62.9%; both of these are considerably-high, which can mean many things. A high LFPR can indicate more single-adult households (and thus less poverty) or

      • Those so-called "other countries" are ancient and sophisticated cultures that were building elaborate temples and writing (albeit upside-down mostly) when our honky ancestors were swinging from trees.

        Imposing our environmental standards on them is literally cultural rape in the actual ass.

    • It's a trade off you see; as a renowned amateur sociologist/economist i'd wager that 90% of the social issues in the US are directly attributable to outsourcing industry.

      You take away the low-skill manufacturing jobs that are/were the bedrock of a modern economy, and you're left with scads of really poor, desperate people with nothing to lose.

      Look at the economic success stories of the 20th century.. China, Brazil, South Korea, hell even Poland to an extent -- they DID NOT improve their economic standing wi

    • Why not ban all manufacturing in the US so that only distilled water may flow down our rivers, and all carbon dioxide will be eliminated from the air?

      Re TFA, the semiconductor industry is one industry where the market has indeed worked thanks to one unique company - Intel. As is well known, I'm not a fan of the x86 architecture, but over 2 decades, Intel has achieved the volumes needed to make fabs that are generations ahead of anybody else - be it from Japan, Korea or Taiwan. If the semiconductor indu

    • It's not just that.

      Part of the U.S. economy's strength is its renewable nature. Norway and Qatar are rich because of oil; but the U.S. has information and services. Much of the U.S. economy runs on retail, shipping, and other domestic services: internal trade makes us self-sufficient, such that our ability to produce food, materials, and energy allows us to pay each other to provide retail, construction, and business services. We get wealthier by taking advantage of international trade; but we're not

  • The US and close allies control more or less the entire semiconductor business. There's no worry of say, China or Russia, competing anywhere in the foreseeable future.
    • The US and close allies control more or less the entire semiconductor business. There's no worry of say, China or Russia, competing anywhere in the foreseeable future.

      Russia? No. China...

      Here's the world's #1 supercomputer:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      The US decided to give China a leg up by denying them access to the top chips, thereby inviting them to dump a metric assload of cash (the US actually specified an imperial fuckton, but the metric assload is about a factor of 1.05 larger) on developing the

      • Who gives a shit about supercomputers? The list is a measure of when you bought your CPUs/GPUs and how many you paid for. They're not a measurement of engineering or technical prowess and they're not a measurement of ability to DO anything with the compute power.

        If you want to drum up fear you've got to talk about the classified secret shit the government and military has access to. But you don't know what they have access to so you can't talk about it to drum up fear.

        • Who gives a shit about supercomputers?

          People who want to run large jobs very fast!

          They're not a measurement of engineering or technical prowess and they're not a measurement of ability to DO anything with the compute power

          You only get on the list if they actually work since you have to submit LINPACK scores. So the processors (a) work and (b) do so efficiently. The fact they can build a supercomputer with their own processors with similar flops/watt to an Intel based one shows they have some decent techin

      • I'd bet a box of donuts that the chip China came up with is a direct rip of a Xeon. It's not like China would say "oh, that's Intel's patented IP, we can't use it."

        They are far more likely to say "Oh, the US wants to ban us from being able to buy this chip? We'll just reverse engineer it and make our own factory to crank them out." It's not like they'd have a hard time getting their hands on working Xeon chips, what with Lenovo being a Chinese company...

        • I'd bet a box of donuts that the chip China came up with is a direct rip of a Xeon.

          Sounds like you owe me a box of donuts, unless you can find a 260 core Xeon. If you read about them, they're much more similar to Cell processors than Xeons in archiceture. With things like OpenCL and OpenACC and experience with GPUs, compiler tooling has improved a LOT since the Cell days, so I expect they're not such a bugger to program.

      • It's more a money concern. If the US dropped a few billion they could build a 1000 petaflop machine in a few months.
        • It's more a money concern. If the US dropped a few billion they could build a 1000 petaflop machine in a few months.,

          Well, that's both kind of the point and missing it at the same time. The Chinese one is more powerful and nearly as efficient as the top US one. That means there isn't much of a tech gap. If it takes the US a few billion (i.e. 10x the cost) to go 10x as fast then there's not much of a cost difference either.

          If you can do the same thing for the same cost and same efficiency, then you're not re

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      The US and close allies control more or less the entire semiconductor business. There's no worry of say, China or Russia, competing anywhere in the foreseeable future.

      Actually China is a major player in the semiconductor business. Because they are a major consumer of integrated circuits (slightly less than 50%) many of the large fab companies have factories there (e.g., TSMC, TI, Samsung). They have a significant number of fabless business (e.g., HiSilicon, Spreadtrum, ZTE, Rockchip, etc), and they even have local pure-play fab companies as well (e.g., SMIC, XMC).

      On the fabless side, China's share (8%) is about double that of Japan and Europe combined. The US of course

      • Sorry, messed this sentence up...

        China has already surpassed every country but the US, Taiwan, and Korea in semicondutors in both the fabless and foundry business

        • I'd think that Japan would be ahead of China as well - I believe that Fujitsu, Hitachi, Mitsubishi et al are still in the semiconductor business
          • by slew ( 2918 )

            I'd think that Japan would be ahead of China as well - I believe that Fujitsu, Hitachi, Mitsubishi et al are still in the semiconductor business

            The only significant output from Japan is Toshiba (NAND flash), Sony (image sensors), and Micron (DRAM).
            The companies you named there only account for less than 1% of world wide chip sales. Interestingly, Japan's $ share is much larger than their volume share.

  • Corporate tax reform (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 )

    The biggest issue affecting US competitiveness is business taxes. That's why Qualcomm bought NXP instead of expanding organically or buying a US company. If Qualcomm brought their cash back to the US, the US government would steal (confiscate, loot, grab, appropriate, or otherwise take) billions of dollars of it. So companies like Qualcomm do what they can to avoid ever bringing money to the US. In this case Qualcomm bought an overseas company with overseas money instead, getting something of value in r

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      Nope, that is all anti-tax fantasy. Reality is up-front research costs and plant development and refresh every year are still the major drivers.
      • Actually, there's a good argument against high taxes, as well as against low taxes; the sticking point is what you define as "high" and "low".

        Businesses and anyone with an accounting sense and lots of cash flow definitely try to reduce their tax burden. Lower taxes reduce this pressure. There's a striking advantage to a presence in any locality, and that's balanced against the taxes. If business is 2% advantaged by having a major operation center in Germany (e.g. lower salaries, better access to techn

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Oh, what U.S. company do you figure Qualcomm should have bought? NXP makes a lot of the processors that go into cars. They bought Freescale not so long ago which was spun out of Motorola when the big shots there were stitching together their golden parachutes. Texas Instruments is probably only the logical choice but it is second to NXP in the auto industry. And it might raise antitrust concerns given their other businesses.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      The biggest issue affecting US competitiveness is business taxes.

      That's disputable. If you factor in all the loopholes, US taxes are typical of developed countries, no higher and no lower.

      Anyhow, profits are too hard to measure for international corporations. They've got bits and pieces all over, in some places where the local laws make it hard for the IRS to verify as these corporations shift stuff around the globe to play tax shell games.

      Instead, base their US taxes on revenues in the US and any money shi

      • It is easy to tax money you have, not money you don't have.

        My suggestion is this, tax money transfers out of the country. Followed by giving incentives to money flowing into our country. It isn't a tariff on goods coming into our country, at least directly, it is applied directly to the people / corporations transferring money over seas.

        If my view is correct, the money flowing out would slow, and money flowing in would grow, and a growing economy would likely be a problem of growth, not sluggishness.

        • Because capital controls have such a long history of success and lead to economic prosperity?

          Nations implement capital controls when they have already fucked up their economy and they can't stand people 'voting their money' with their feet. Not generally useful, capital has a million ways of sneaking across borders.

      • Addendum:

        The mentioned tax loopholes affect organizations unevenly such that some companies may indeed go overseas to avoid the US tax system. But that's more about being uneven than having high taxes.

        In general different countries will have different tax laws such that some portion of companies may find a better deal overseas even if the average tax difference is small or even better in the US.

        As an analogy, the typical things I buy at the market may favor me going to Store B over Store A. But, that doesn'

      • Base taxes on executive compensation, including all stock options, retirement plans, etc. Extend it to spouses, children, family members, and anyone else receiving compensation from the corporation (or any subsidiaries, parents, etc.) they're seen in a social setting with.

    • Oh yeah, tell me about how it helped developing a burgeoning semiconductors industry in the Bahamas.....
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2016 @12:40PM (#53193115) Homepage Journal

      Business taxes in the US are 39% on paper, but in practice average around 27% when you count deductions US law allows. The effective US rate is about the same as the average for OECD countries (27.7%) and is only slightly higher than the Netherlands' 25%. China's tax rate is 25% as well, although it goes down to 15% for certain industries. Both China and the Netherlands have a national value-added-tax (17% and 21% respectively); the US has in-state sales taxes in some states but no cross-state sales tax.

      Of course 2% of a 1.4 billion in profits is a lot of money, but even if the US dropped its effective rates to 25% I doubt you'll see a lot of new semiconductor fabs going up in the US.

      In an era of free trade, nobody's going to locate many manufacturing jobs in the US with a median wage of $51K when the median wage in China is $4755, and in Indonesia less than half that. The only reason to make anything here is to get something that you can't get elsewhere, and lets face it there are plenty of tax havens out there with lots of unemployed people. So what can you get here? Access to US universities and research centers. The US, at least for now, is a natural tech incubator. That won't last long under an austerity program.

      So until US wages drop by about 90%, even a major cut to effective business tax rates aren't going to make us competitive with China for commodity manufacturing jobs.

      • Industrialized nations with lower corporate taxes generally have higher capital gains.

        Nations compete for capital based on after tax return on investment (ROI), that being: (NominalROI * (1 - CapGainsRate) * (1 - CorporateTaxRate)). If that number is not competitive the nation will get no investment.

        Of course ROI is noisy in time and not uniform across investments, but generally higher ROI corresponds to higher risk. 'Risk free' ROI is 0 or negative these days.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        The topic is US competiveness. Maybe you don't have any ideas for improving that. But are you really saying that giving companies billions of dollars in financial incentives to do business in any country except the US is irrelevant to US competitiveness?

        Reforming business taxes is something that could actually be done. All it would take is government people deciding to be less greedy.

        Do you have any ideas that could actually be done? Please post them.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          I'm saying that the argument about corporate tax rates misses the mark because (a) it's based on the statutory rate rather than the effective rate, (b) it ignores other taxes, (c) it ignores other expenses that the US is powerless to cut.

          We live in a world in which national sovereignty has been reduced to a degree that the Communists of old could only have dreamed of. Our options are limited. That's not saying that there's nothing we can do, but a race to the bottom is one that would hurt us a lot worse th

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            So you have zero ideas on improving US competitiveness then?

            If the tax is really just the same as other countries, then you'd presumably have no problem changing our rules to be just like other countries' rules.

            • by hey! ( 33014 )

              Oh, I do. I just don't think cutting the corporate tax rate will work.

              Your logic somewhat escapes me. I'm saying the marginal change in the corporate tax rate to match the Netherlands won't bring many jobs back. Just because it won't do what you intend it to do doesn't mean it won't do anything; it'll do a mix of good and bad things. Same with going with China's neo-mercantilist policy of giving breaks to specific industries.

              • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                I guess every country the the world except the US could have chosen the wrong tax rules, but there's no data or reasoning to support that conclusion. Some countries had business taxes more like ours for a long time, but every country eventually changed and the US is the only one stuck doing it the old way.

                No one should expect a miraculous difference from changing the rules to match the rest of the world. But a little economic growth and a modest increase in jobs and wages is really good for the people who

  • For example, the fact is that Pringles flavors have been horrible lately. Shrimp flavored Pringles? We need new ideas. The best idea in the last 10 years was to put ridges on Ruffles. But that isn't good enough in 2016 and beyond.
  • Obama's jump start to making America great again should have been done long ago. Why wait until he only has ten weeks left as POTUS? Is he trying to build a better legacy? I have little faith in Obama understanding what it takes to kick-start anything that will not involve government control..
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Complaining is easy; propose an alternative to move the economy. The whole world is in a funk, by the way, not just US.

      All I've seen from the right is more trickle-down plans and either vague deregulation, or deregulation that turns us into a 3rd-world country.

      More trickle-down won't work because the rich are already flush with cash. They don't expand biz because of insufficient consumers. Insufficient consumption is the current bottleneck. If you don't fix that, you don't fix the econ. Go!...

  • That strangely reminds me of one communist leader in the eastern block many years ago - he is giving a inaugural speech for a semi conductor plant, that goes something like this : "Congratulations comrades. With our scientific achievements this year we built a plant for semiconductors, next year we will build a plant for full". Little did he knew what a full conductor is not better than a semiconductor.
  • When I'm president, we're not going to have these weak "semi" conductors, we're going to have full conductors, and they will be terrific conductors, believe me. Conductors we can be proud of.

  • This could be translated as lame duck president prepares to dump taxpayer money on helping semiconductor oligarchs earn huge bonuses while laying off engineers that are US citizens and replacing them with "whatever" head shop maggots outsourced or on one of the many abused US work visas. Note that they are talking about labor and tax restructuring but there is no one representing US labor on PCAST.
  • Eliminate the personal and corporate income taxes and implement the revenue-neutral "Fair Tax"(fairtax.org). Then, allow a one-time, tax-free repatriation of any offshore assets held by individuals or businesses. Next, restore a sane trade policy where foreign producers won't be allowed a competitive advantage in the U.S. market based entirely on labor and environmental arbitrage.
    That would increase U.S. competitiveness in a huge way and begin a real economic recovery.

  • We want money! "public-private" + "competitivenes"+"security"=Pork!

  • Maybe Dan declined.

    For those not familiar with Dan: semiwiki.com

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