In Florence, Italy at the Business & Economics Society International conference, presenting my research paper titled “American Inward Foreign Direct Investment: Trends in global industrial origination”
Fact about the paper: While many reports have noted trends toward decentralized manufacturing to underdeveloped areas in the past decades, there has been a lack of studies related to manufacturing dollars coming into America in the form of Inward Foreign Direct Investment. This paper finds that even during the worldwide recession, between 2007 and 2010, American IFDI from Asia related to industry increased by a whopping 29%. IFDI also increased originating from Europe during this time. Shifts accelerated by the global recession point to an increase in dependence on manufacturing, especially the IFDI originating from Asia.
Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 16.3% 3rd out of 7 (OECD stats)
Country’s most Important Industries: electric goods, fasion, and the auto industry
WWII fact: The Ponte Vecchio, aka “Old Bridge” was the only bridge in Florence to survive, since the Germans, who occupied the city in 1944, blew up the bridges to thwart the incoming British. From ’43-44, the city was occupied by Germany.
Florence was the capital of Italy from 1865-1871 and is called the Jewel or Capital of the Renaissance. Due to the many public squares and historic buildings, the city is often referred to as an open-air museum.
Today, Italian manufacturing is dominated by small and medium sized businesses. There have been burdensome domestic regulations in the past that many economists attribute to the current lack of large production facilities. Oftentimes, well-intended laws tend to hurt the economy in the long run. Local laws that help in the short run can hinder an economy in the long run. One such law (in my opinion) is the EU local content laws that mandate a minimum percentage of certain products be assembled in Europe. In the US, the isolationist-minded Smoot Hawley Tariff act of 1930 was intended to help domestic producers, since international goods would thus be very expensive, but it ultimately thwarted international commerce so much that it drove up prices due to lack of competition. It remains to be seen what similar well-intended laws like EU local content laws do to the pan-European economy in the long run.
An example of a very successful small multinational production operation is the Pierotucci factory, which I was able to tour. The company was established in 1972 and had 20-30 sales representatives, selling to the locals. As the company become more successful, they eventually moved their operations out of the center of the city. The first non-domestic customers were Japanese women, who loved their handbags. The top sellers today for men are belts and wallets, whereas the top sellers for women are handbags. They only use Italian leather because it is of the highest quality and that’s what their global consumers expect. Today, less than .5% of the business is sold domestically. They can design specialty items for an extra two days wait. The production facility use hydraulic presses and utilize vegetable tan leather…vegetable tan leather is the style of leather used when carving is needed.
From their website: The Pierotucci leather factory has been producing hand crafted quality leather goods for nearly 40 years. Employing only skilled Italian leather artisans with decades of experience, who pour their heart and soul into creating leather masterpieces, the Pierotucci leather factory has established itself as a leading producer of leather goods in Italy. The factory not only supplies merchandise for its own showroom and boutique, in the past years they have produced leather goods for famous fashion designers as well. Famous names like Fratelli Rossetti, Cole Haan, Bally and Hugo Boss have outsourced their leather production to the Pierotucci Leather Factory. With quality and timely delivery, Pierotucci leather factory continues to design and create its own lines of leather goods.
Freemasonry was banned in Italy from 1922-1945. Dictator Benito Musollini saw Freemasonry as a threat, presumably because of their belief in personal liberty and free media. Musollini sent his “Black Shirt” thugs to burn and destroy Italian Masonic lodges/temples when he first became dictator. Over 100 Masons were killed in Florence as they tried to defend their lodges. He was quoted as saying ““Masonry must be destroyed and Masons should have no right to citizenship in Italy. To reach this end all means are good, from the club to the gun, from the breaking of windows to the purifying fire… The Masons must be ostracized… Their very life must be made impossible.”
After receiving an official letter of introduction from the Grand Lodge of Indiana, I was able to send this to Cristiano Franceschini, owner of the “Museum of Masonic Symbols”. I would have been able to gain access to the museum either way, but the letter allowed me access to a local lodge which he belongs.
Upon arriving, I presented him with a Masonic pin from the Grand Lodge of Indiana. He was very grateful and indicated that he will add this to his collection of pins in his museum. He said that it took him 40+ years to build up his artifacts. He provided me mountains of fascinating information and then gave me a personal tour of Masonic history hidden within the city of Florence
I won’t bore everyone w/ these artifacts, but I most enjoyed the section devoted to American Freemasons. I wasn’t aware that Native Americans have a rich history of Masonry. It was first presented to them as a way to develop mutual understanding and brotherhood from the European settlers. Both Sitting Bull and and Geronimo were Freemasons.
He graciously gave me a private tour around Florence to show me the different places involving a piece of Masonic history. We started talking about famous Italian-Americans and I learned that Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was a Mason.
As for the conference, it was first rate all the way. This was the first conference that provided up to date journals in related disciplines for the attendees. The hotel where the conference was held was a 4 star venue and were were able to eat there as well. I enjoyed that they assigned “discussants” for each paper to help facilitate dialogue (along w/ the theme chair) after the presentation. Being a discussant was enjoyable, as it allowed for the opportunity to delve in to more specifics of a research paper from a similar discipline before the actual presentation.