Is Wal-mart Good For America?

frontline: is wal-mart good for america? (

That’s the question Frontline asked Tuesday night, 11/16. Walmart has a huge amount of influence over its suppliers. Suppliers are told that if they want Walmart to continue to carry their goods, they need to lower the prices they charge Walmart. The supplier has 2 options either move production (jobs) from the United States to China or lose the Walmart account, which is probably the supplier’s largest account. When Rubbermaid attempted to pass along an increase in its manufacturing costs to Walmart, Walmart decreased the shelf space dedicated to Rubbermaid products. This affected Rubbermaid so negatively that it had to merge with another company to survive.

Five Rivers Electronics Innovations, which has a TV assembly plant in Greeneville, TN, filed a complaint with the Department of Commerce and the Internation Trade Commission charging the Chinese with dumping televisions in the United States. Walmart filed briefs in support of the Chinese manufacturers. Five Rivers won the complaints, and the agencies imposed duties on the Chinese TV’s, which resulted in price increases of 25 percent or more. The duties were apparently too late to help Five Rivers, because they filed for bankruptcy in October, 2004.

Do we really benefit from Walmart’s extra low prices? The Frontline program is definitely worth watching, and it will be available on their website starting Friday, 11/19. The Frontline website also has a large amount of additional information about the topic.