As it gets colder outside and we head into turtleneck and snow pant season, it’s a good time to start thinking about what you will get your loved ones for the holidays. Many retailers are preparing for the rush of shoppers, but the suffering economy is kind of raining on their parade. The economic downturn is affecting people all over the globe. In Mongolia, factory workers were ready for the demand of their stylish and cozy cashmere sweaters, but are finding that the demand is not what it used to be.

Inner Mongolia’s goat herders, factory workers, and owners would say that their business has slowed substantially. Last year, Kashmir goats were being sold for $27.30 a pound, then shaven to produce orders for 28,000 sweaters. This year, this number has dropped to 20,000! Factory workers are being laid off, herders are selling their goats, and there is an excess of sweaters. With the cashmere market generally being more popular in the United States and Italy, not many Mongolians are buying the unsold sweaters, which leaves them sitting in a warehouse.

On the upside of things, with fewer herds of Kashmir goats being kept, desertification is slowing. This is because when Kashmir goats graze, they not only eat the grass and other vegetation on the surface, but they pull up the root as well. They also have sharp hooves, which break up soil on the plateaus in Inner Mongolia, causing dust storms. With fewer herds, less vegetation is being destroyed.

For more information, read the article from The New York Times. If you would like to see some pictures of these cute, fuzzy goats, you can also view the slideshow.

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