The Promise of American Industry: An Alternative Assessment of Problems and Prospects

The Promise of American Industry: An Alternative Assessment of Problems and Prospects

The Promise of American Industry: An Alternative Assessment of Problems and Prospects

The Promise of American Industry: An Alternative Assessment of Problems and Prospects

Synopsis

Losman and Liang provide a framework for an alternative analysis of American industry and present the supporting economic data. Focusing primarily on the manufacturing sector, the authors examine the effects of such influences as increased foreign competition, technology advances, and the changing position of the United States in the world economy on American industry. They reveal that although the once unchallenged preeminence of the United States economy and its industrial capabilities is clearly a thing of the past, American industry still exhibits major strengths and that positive changes are taking place.

Excerpt

The once unchallenged preeminence of the U.S. economy and its industrial capabilities is today clearly a "thing of the past." the world as it enters the 1990s is a dynamic and formidable environment, a shrinking planet in terms of transportation, communications, and technology flows. Foreign competition--from advanced industrial countries such as Japan and those in Europe, from the newly industrializing nations, and from more traditional Third World producers--has greatly increased, while at the same time it appears that U.S. vibrance has waned. It is also frequently suggested that the American work ethic has become anemic, that the educational system is faulty, and that industrial capabilities are shrinking. American managements are roundly criticized; U.S. corporations have been labeled "hollow," and American labor is deemed intransigent and careless. Further, the evolving American social structure--breakdown of the traditional family, drug and alcohol abuse, ethnic tensions--seems to exacerbate industrial problems and magnify the perceived economic malaise.

The nation is awash with statistics on our large trade deficit, on foreign purchases of U.S. corporations and land, and with information from the ubiquitous six o'clock news programs, which highlight and emphasize budget deficits, plant closings, and events in regionally distressed areas. "D-word" expressions--debt, decline, deficit, and dependency--abound, permeating not only all discussions, but becoming a mind-set and filter through which all contemporary data are interpreted. These support and reinforce the self-doubt and gloom that seem to characterize the U.S. self-image concerning its economic and industrial capabilities. They point to a questionable, if not downright dismal, future.

Yet the picture, by any objective assessment, is hardly so one-sided or negative. Americans are most familiar with what is (or seems to be) happening here, and in this self-conscious sense, our warts and blemishes do appear large and offensive. Yet there is much in the United States that is unseen or unreported, but . . .

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