The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposals for Reform

By Stephen D. Cohen | Go to book overview

11 The Merging of Domestic and International Economic Policies: The Competitiveness/Industrial Policy Debate

Our previously overwhelming lead in technology is declining. . . . This situation will not be remedied if we do not take action, and put in place a coherent, well-defined technology policy.

-- Erich Bloch

Major premise: socialism is a failure. . . . Minor premise: private enterprise capitalism is the only system that has been able to combine prosperity with human freedom. . . . Conclusion: the U.S. needs more socialism! The conclusion is a clear logical fallacy yet . . . whatever problem you talk about . . . the only solution generally regarded as possible is more government intervention, throwing more money at it, passing more laws, more regulations.

-- Milton Friedman

The U.S. international policymaking apparatus created a new venue in the mid- 1980s. It gradually would erase the last vestiges of a separation between the formulation of internal and external economic policies, and it would accelerate the redefinition of national security to include economic strength and stability.

The new policy exercise was an unusually complex and contentious debate on whether the ability of U.S. industrial companies to compete in global markets was eroding to dangerous levels, and if so, what to do about it. Alarm about the global competitiveness of domestic producers grew more widespread in the wake of steady growth in the U.S. trade deficit and the discomforting sight of a steady stream of American manufacturing companies being decimated by seemingly unstoppable Japanese companies. Steadily increasing foreign com-

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