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"Factory Orders Plunge 7.5 Percent" — AP Headline, 9/01/00

FACTORY ORDERS PLUNGE; "MOST CONSUMERS CAN'T
AFFORD FACTORIES" CITED AS POSSIBLE REASON

Factories Also Can't Be Purchased Online, Say Analysts

WASHINGTON, D.C. (SatireWire.com) — The Commerce Department yesterday reported that U.S. factory orders plunged a record 7.5 percent in July, prompting many to wonder if factories are failing to appeal to the important 18-to-34 market, or perhaps have become too expensive for the average consumer.
Bristlewaite Construction president Richard Happ
Richard L. Harper, who owns factory-builder Bristlewaite Construction, says the report on Factory Orders is faulty. "I get orders for factories all the time," he insists.

"How much does a factory cost, $100 million?" asked DeAnne Marks, a 27-year-old librarian in Salem, Mass. "Where am I going to get that kind of money when I've got to put food on the table? And where would I put it, anyway? That's got to be the stupidest economic measurement I ever heard of."

Market observers say that kind of aggressive apathy, particularly from the under-34 market, could be a factor in the stark decline of factory orders, which is widely regarded as one of the most important economic indicators. But e-commerce analysts point to another problem: factory manufacturers and distributors have failed to take advantage of the digital economy.

Said GartnerGroup analyst Steven Sichua: "You look at Amazon.com's menu bar, and they sell everything — books, kitchen appliances, cars — but I don't see a button for factories. If you can't order factories online, you're missing out on a major chunk of the market." Sichua spontaneously predicted that factories ordered online will be a $700 billion business by 2003.

In Fresno, Cal., Bristlewaite Construction president Richard Harper suggested the real problem lies with the Commerce Department's research, not the factory makers. Bristlewaite, which builds factories across central California, has never been polled by Commerce officials, he said. "We're one of the biggest factory builders in the West, so you'd think we'd be one of the companies they survey," said Harper. "We got orders to build three factories in July. Three! That's a 200 percent jump, not a decrease."

Contacted in Washington, Commerce Department officials went on the defensive, insisting its report details the orders of big ticket items, such as airplanes and ships, from factories. That explanation, however, did little to quell consumer criticism. "A ship? Where the hell am I going to get the money to order a ship?" said DeAnne Marks. "That's still the stupidest economic measurement I ever heard of."

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