Squier has always turned out good product. The original Japanese Squiers that came out 30 years ago were amazing instruments. To say that "Squier is becoming the Standard Of Excelence" indicates that this thread is mainly a tie-in to the CV fad (and I do think it's a fad, internet generated).
The Japanese were/are better at making electric guitars than other far east nations because they had a pop music and electric guitar culture of their own. If you don't think this is hugely significant to superior guitar building, you aren't seeing the bigger picture.
Whenever I see someone claim that all a guitar needs is a pickup swap to make things right, I know that they don't know guitars.
The Standard of excellence for Fender remains their US made instruments. There are a multitude of reasons for this (some I've hinted at). I've yet to see a chinese made guitar that doesn't feel like a prop guitar. Feel is important. I pick up a new American Standard and I know right away I'm holding a guitar.
You can make great music on just about any guitar but that's not what we're talking about. If we're talking about 'Standards of Excellence' what I look for is feel & sound, looks are second.
When someone cites a minor finish blem as proof of some lagging of American quality, I have to shake my head. Pick up a vintage Gretsch (by way of an obvious example) sometime and have fun pointing out all the inconsistencies compared to a new one. Give me the human-being built vibe-rich original everytime. If it didn't matter to George Harrison it shouldn't matter to you.
I think it's important to feel proud of one's guitars and it's human nature to extend that pride into a little meglomania, it's also human nature to have a little of the ol' fox and grapes syndrome (the poor fox can't reach the grapes but decides they were probably sour anyway - know the fable?)
To recap: Squier hasn't suddenly started making good guitars, the brand was great right out the door 30 years ago with some significant dips and rises in quality ever since. Nonetheless, they have always been Fender's budget alternative and the top quality Fenders are still, and have always been the US made.
I don't have an agenda I just love guitars - in particular Fenders - I've played and owned them for years...all kinds: budget, top-of-the-line. You get what you pay for. Simple but 100% true.
Brother musician listen to a miracle!