Today, there are three major attitudes toward manufacturing in this country, and those opinions need to evolve as manufacturing changes.
In the next three blogs we will delve into each point of view, beginning with today’s first in the series. We’d love to hear your opinions on where you fall in the spectrum.
Attitude 1: Manufacturing Doesn’t Matter
Members of this camp are very influential and numerous. Kenneth Green at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, writes: “As long as China is selling us the products we need, the location of manufacturing isn’t really that critical for the economy.”
Columbia University’s Jagdish Bhagwati dismisses anyone who says manufacturing is important as suffering from a “manufacturing fetish,” while economic columnist Robert J. Samuelson writes that any talk of manufacturing renewal being critical to solving U.S. economic problems is “make believe.”
President Obama’s former economic policy head Larry Summers stated: “America’s role is to feed a global economy that’s increasingly based on knowledge and services, rather than on making stuff.”
Christina Romer, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, dismissed President Obama’s very own manufacturing policy (after she left the White House) claiming that manufacturers don’t need “special treatment” and that any claim as to why manufacturing is different is based on “sentiment.”
This camp may hold an intellectual “market share” of at least 50% in Washington D.C. Even on Wall Street, Nigel Coe, a respected analyst at Morgan Stanley calls it a “head fake” in a recent 125-page report stating that “We see very little evidence of a Renaissance in U.S. manufacturing activity. Outside of the Chemicals sector, low natural gas prices will likely have limited ramifications on capacity decisions.”
This camp would even be OK simply exporting all this cheap energy to emerging economies.
But is this camp missing what manufacturing is becoming today? In the next blog, we’ll look at a second point of view toward American manufacturing.