Is mid-October still too early to get all bah-humbugy about Christmas this year (assuming the subprime Grinch doesn’t steal it)? There was news today that half of China’s toy exporters have gone out of business so far this year, some 3,600 of them in all. The usual suspects – higher labor and production costs, and weak demand overseas – were blamed. But, take heart little Johnny, most of them were small-sized producers that exported less than US$100,000 per year. Your Elmo may yet be safe this year. China’s overall exports to the US – Elmos and otherwise – have been matched by strong import growth from the US, resulting in a September trade surplus with the States that held steady with August’s, at US$17.5 billion. This bucks the trend we mentioned yesterday of China’s global import growth slipping last month, which meant the country’s overall trade surplus hit a record high of US$82 billion. In other news, on the aviation front, it was reported that the Shanghai government has approved in principle a merger between China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. China Eastern would take a 60% stake in Shanghai (the airline) followed by a cash injection from the government. A China Eastern-Shanghai tandem would create a dominant player with a 60% share of all flights in and out of Shanghai.