Spend Matters Afternoon Coffee

Tsk tsk, China.
U.S. Files Complaint Against China on Cars -- "As we have made clear, the Obama administration will continue to fight to ensure that China does not misuse its trade laws and violate its international trade commitments to block exports of American-made products," Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, said in a statement confirming the trade case against China. "American auto workers and manufacturers deserve a level playing field and we are taking every step necessary to stand up for them." There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government, which typically waits a day or two before responding publicly to American trade policy moves.

PC wants what Apple's got.
Apple's Grip on Metal Chassis Supplies Leaves Ultrabook Makers Scrambling -- Apple barely has to worry about weaponizing its patent for the design of the MacBook Air, as its grip over the supply chain is already putting the hurt on potential ultrabook competitors. All current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models employ a unibody aluminum chassis, an industrial design component that PC makers have started to emulate. The Air's thin, light metal housing is particularly en vogue, and many PC manufacturers want the same type of chassis for their ultrabooks. But according to a recent report from DigiTimes, overseas suppliers can't deliver these metal chassis quickly enough, which is bad news for Apple competitors. Specifically, DigiTimes reports, Catcher Technology and Foxconn Technology, the primary makers of these notebook casings, won't be able to completely fulfill ultrabook demand through the end of 2012.

Businesses mourn the dying Post Office.
With Cuts on the Way, Postal Service Customers Already Bemoan Delays -- It used to be that a letter sent was a letter delivered. Not so much anymore. Even before the Postal Service begins closing hundreds of processing centers to cut costs, several businesses say they are beginning to see a decline in service. Dozens of local newspapers say papers are being delivered late or not at all, causing them to lose advertisers and subscribers. In Wisconsin, Publisher's Diversified Mail Service, a direct marketing firm that sends out 50 million to 75 million pieces of mail a year, said there had been delays in getting promotions delivered on time.

Legislating in the new normal.
In Washington's New Mood of Austerity, Legislating Turns Into a Zero-Sum Game -- Two presidents -- one Democrat, one Republican -- tried unsuccessfully for more than a decade to cut back or eliminate a fund for closing abandoned coal mines that had become a piggy bank for Western states. It took a highway bill to do the trick. Buried deep inside the voluminous highway, student loan and flood insurance bill that President Obama will sign this week -- so deep that furious Wyoming lawmakers did not see it until it was too late -- is a provision capping the abandoned mine fund, and using the $700 million in savings to help pay for the new law. It is a clear example of how a new era of austerity in Washington is starting to turn legislating into a zero-sum game: somebody's gain is someone else's loss.

- Sheena Moore

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