The imminent death of Barbie is killing the world's biggest toymaker Mattel. Brian Solomon at Forbes says Mattel announced a net loss of $11.2 million and shrinking sales – $946 million, down 5 per cent compared last year. The company's biggest problem was its declining Barbie sales. Worldwide gross sales for the brand were down 14 per cent.
Leigh Drogen, CEO of Estimize told Yahoo Finance that Barbie is just out of fashion. Kids aren't interested in her anymore. "Kids aren't playing with these dolls anymore. They're playing with apps," he said. "Look at Candy Crush. It's making a ton of money."
Karina Magalong at The Street says sales of the doll and its play-sets have been sliding for quite some time. Although children are gravitating more toward technological toys, such as Apple iPad and LeapFrog Leappads, there is still sometbr hing to say about imaginative play. Children, mainly young girls, still do enjoy playing with dolls.
Toymakers are facing a weak environment globally due to the popularity of smartphones, video consoles, and online gaming, which has shifted children's interest from traditional toys.
The problem is this has been happening now for some time, at least a decade. The big question is why didn't Mattel see it sooner. Why have they waited for this long?
China's air pollution is now so bad that it's affecting the rest of the world. A study released this week tells us that pollution from Asia has been sweeping across the Pacific and affecting weather patterns in North America, including the extreme temperatures and storms the US and other regions have seen over the past year. The study from Texas A&M University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences looks at particles in the air caused by burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes. These can change cloud patterns and precipitation levels. By comparing the levels of these "atmospheric aerosols" in the pre-industrial year of 1850 to 2000, the researchers concluded that aerosols floating over from Asia, mainly China, are intensifying the storm track over the Pacific Ocean. That means intensified cyclones and higher levels of precipitation. Moreover, the aerosol build-up could be affecting weather around the globe.
"There appears to be little doubt that these particles from Asia affect storms sweeping across the Pacific and subsequently the weather patterns in North America and the rest of the world," Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M's Department of Atmospheric Sciences said in the news release. "The climate model is quite clear on this point. The aerosols formed by human activities from fast-growing Asian economies do impact storm formation and global air circulation downstream. They tend to make storms deeper and stronger and more intense, and these storms also have moreprecipitation in them. We believe this is the first time that a study has provided such a global perspective."
As commentator Eileen Shim says, it's no longer viable to let China deal with its own pollution. The country's problem has global implications
China's property bubble has already started to burst as the country struggles to avoid a hard-landing after the housing market became overheated with soaring prices. China's commercial and residential property sectors are not doing well, especially in the city of Hangzho, which has "become the symbol of a market in distress", according to Forbes.
The problem, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that overbuilding is out of control and a major property-market slowdown is now under way. Buildings are standing empty and in many Chinese cities, developers are slashing prices and offering freebies such as kitchen furnishings and parking spaces as they try to work through vast gluts of unsold property. Protests are breaking out among buyers angry that their investments are losing value.
And as Jamil Anderlini at the Financial Times points out, this could cripple China because the world's second biggest economy is dependent on real estate investment.
"The fate of China's overheated real estate market is absolutely critical to the health of the overall economy. Real estate construction directly accounted for 16 per cent of GDP in 2013, according to estimates from Nomura. At that level China is approaching a dependence on property last seen in Ireland and Spain before the bursting of their bubbles. Many of the industries already suffering from severe overcapacity in China, such as steel, cement and glass, are heavily indebted and reliant on continued rapid growth in property construction for their survival. Land sales and property-related taxes accounted for 38 per cent of total government revenue in 2013 and heavily indebted local governments have used highly priced land as collateral for the vast majority of their loans. A property crash would not only lead to collapsing growth in the world's second-largest economy and largest commodity consumer but would also have a huge impact on Chinese households, which have an estimated two-thirds of their assets tied up in real estate."