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Yuan-na Supersize That?

Jul
28
2005

In a former life I worked as part of what a colleague called the “financial paparazzi.” That’s wire service reporters who chase after hot financial types like trade ministers and central bank chairmen and send out their pearls of wisdom as fast as possible to the computers of guys talking into headset phones who try to make money on whether Bulgaria plans to rename its national dish.
With that background, the news that China is revaluating its currency naturally set what’s left of my wire service reporter’s heart all aflutter. And I’ve decided to give you, gentle reader, the benefit of my analysis. Sure, you can get professionals telling you to look for effects on the trade balance or on interest rates, but I tell you folks, “Nosiree, Bob.” China’s yuan change will have a major impact on one area: architecture, specifically the design of the tract mansions that have spread throughout the overpriced suburbs.
Architecture? Yes, architecture. The tract mansions I sometimes visit with my kids when we’re on the child-schlep circuit around town all have a space I call the Toy Cave. See, on the main level architects design the houses with a dining room and a living room and a family room and a kitchen and a breakfast nook and an office nook and a diddle-the-nanny nook and they’re mostly open and flowing into each other and it’s enough space to park your 18-wheeler carrying a load of bargain priced plastic toys from China guaranteed to break or lose three key parts within hours of being pried out of the hard-as-steel plastic package designed to cut your thumb any way you open it. But few suburban families own an 18-wheeler, or drive it enough to need to worry about parking places, so they have no idea what to do with all the space.


Some families leave clumps of space unfurnished; others just take on more credit card debt and haul home the dining table and the kitchen table and the family room table and the office table and the …you get the idea.
But furnished or not, one of the first-floor spaces always starts to attract The Toys. First it’s just a few, so baby can play where you can see him, and then as birthdays and Christmas or Hanukah and relatives’ visits and parties and holidays come and go, soon there’s the equivalent of half the factory stockroom of a Toys-R-Us for one or two very small human beings. Soon the mother is swept up in it and has installed shelves and boxes and sometimes even labeled everything, and the Toy Cave is often the first thing you see when you walk in the front door of these homes, which cost as much as a whole decent small town used to, soda fountain included.
And where’s all this crap made, cheaply enough so that parents can still afford gobs of it even after stretching to pay the interest-only mortgage? China of course.
So my theory is that as the yuan rises against the dollar, The Toys will get more expensive; and even indulgent, credit-card-maxing parents will have to cut back. This will naturally lead to a more rational, and smaller, design in homes, with families thus spending more time together and of course a resulting increase in reading scores, decrease in crime, greater ethics in politics and business, reduced global warming, no war, etc., etc.
Although I suppose before China was the main producer, the Toy Caves would have been filled with stuff made in Japan, or Taiwan. But maybe we’ll get a break before Indonesian production picks up.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 4:17 AM | Permalink

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