The Steel Crisis: The Economics and Politics of a Declining Industry

By William Scheuerman | Go to book overview

6
Recovery, Relapse, and Retrenchment: The Trigger Price Mechanism

In 1974, with sales of $2.5 billion generating a hefty pretax return of 11.1%, Inland drafted its mighty $2 billionexpansion plan. . . . But earnings have continued to sag from their heady 1974 level, and this has hobbled Inland's ability to finance any more expansion. . . .

Business Week, September 9, 1977

We will keep on going downhill. We're not going to put any money into the steel business until this thing changes around.

Harry Holiday, President of Armco Steel, 1977

It is a peculiarity of our banking system . . . that the time a business man needs money is the time he cannot get it.

Upton Sinclair

By the mid- 1970s changing conditions both at home and abroad brought new hope to U.S. steelmakers. Indeed, 1974 had been a banner year for steel. Profits set postwar records and increases in global steel demand foreshadowed future steel shortages. Industry representatives gave a sigh of relief, for they no longer saw imported steel as the primary long-term threat to the future of domestic steel production. Although steel executives and industry analysts held that increases in global demand would eventually alleviate the import issue, they could point to the Trade Act of 1974 as a hedge against the possible reemergence of steel imports. Despite their concern over the law's failure to mandate quotas and, failing that, to provide Treasury with precise criteria for action, corporate officials generally viewed the new

-129-

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The Steel Crisis: The Economics and Politics of a Declining Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • List of Tables and Figures xiii
  • 1 - Steel on the Slide 1
  • 2 - Law and Social Power 22
  • Notes 39
  • 3 - The Golden Years: From Dominance to Decline 45
  • Notes 61
  • 4 - Protectionism and Disinvestment 64
  • Notes 94
  • 5 - Instrumental Politics and the Trade Act 98
  • Notes 125
  • 6 - Recovery, Relapse, and Retrenchment: The Trigger Price Mechanism 129
  • 7 - Restructuring: The Politics of Disinvestment 151
  • Notes 182
  • 8 - Economic Decline and Democratic Demise: Prospects for the Future 185
  • Notes 206
  • Index 209
  • About the Author 221
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