Those of us that like tools and gear are pretty focused people. If it falls outside the norm, if it is a knife made by some upstart we might miss it. Out of principle many of us avoid Chinese made products. I am not one of them, but I can see why people do it. Then there is the vast and unregulatable world of knock offs and counterfeit stuff. This is just verboten.
But not for everyone. Some adventurous souls and frugal folks have jumped head first into the ocean of super budget products. There is a forum for budget flashlight fans, called BudgetLightForum.com. And these folks are pretty serious when it comes to cheap stuff. Check out this review of the SRM 704, a knife Bernard aka Brainsploded aka everyday-carry.com is currently using.
My favorite part of the review is the complaint over the liner lock. The reviewer really wants an Axis lock, which seems odd given the price range of the knives he is talking about. A quick search of the forum turns up an Axis lock knife for under $10. When less scrupulous folks are making the products you get patented stuff without the patent holder's permission at a greatly reduced price. Check out this blade. G10 handles, Axis lock, and 440C...whoops no make that 8CR13MoV...or what...whatever, some kind of steel for a blade. It even as the Benchmade "split arrow" clip. Still, for under $10, you get a lot of features. It is amazing what you can find.
One of the issues that turns up is that a lot of knife companies in the US contract with these Chinese companies. The CRKT Drifter, many a budget EDCer's friend, is, in fact, made by one of the dozens of faceless, nameless companies out there. And it had gotten pretty darn good reviews. It is not so simple anymore, if it ever was, to determine just who made your knife--was it Benchmade or an OEM from China or Taiwan?
I am not even sure this is a per se bad thing. Yes, I dislike the cloning and outright larceny of intellectual property (however much the Spyderco fanboy in me loves seeing Benchmade's IP get stolen, I know it is bad for business). But some of SRM's designs are really nice (how finger choil-y of them, right?). Maybe once they step out of the shadow of being an OEM and into the light of being their own company we will have yet another good company to get knives from.
Still, if you can brave the waters and tolerate the illegal and deceptive business practices, there is a whole world of junk out there that you can EDC for under $20. And sometimes, every once in a while, it turns out that the junk is actually pretty decent.