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

By William Scheuerman | Go to book overview

4
Protectionism and Disinvestment

Voluntary restraint agreements against foreign imports . . . may have made some sense. . . . But what is not understandable is the lack of initiative on the part of steelmakers to invest aggressively for expansion, productivity improvement, and export under the umbrella of this temporary protection.

Ira C. Magaziner and Robert B. Reich

The Voluntary Restraint Agreement between the United States and the major steel producers of Japan and the European Community provided a temporary nostrum acceptable to diverse segments of the international corporate community. Foreign steelmakers circumvented the threat of mandatory quotas, free trade interests avoided the possibility of a trade war, and the nation's integrated steel firms received some protection against imports. The agreement, which took effect on January 1, 1969, and was to run for three years, covered 80 percent of all steel imports into the United States and placed tonnage restrictions on specific steel products.1 Policymakers justified the VRA on the grounds that it would give the steel industry some breathing room to resolve its economic plight by modernizing and eventually reestablishing its international competitiveness. But the steel companies failed to take advantage of the protection; they did not rebuild their deteriorating facilities. Instead, integrated steel producers diversified and invested overseas. This only aggravated their already precarious economic condition and increased their reliance on political action

Grateful acknowledgment is given for permission to reprint in slightly revised form "Economic Power in the United States: The Case of Steel", Politics and Society 5.

-64-

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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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