Bookshelf -- An Optimistic Outlook

New book by Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI provides primarily upbeat assessment of U.S. manufacturing's future and recommends reforms.

The book's title -- "U.S. Manufacturing: The Engine for Growth in a Global Economy" (2003, Praeger Publishers) -- and the first sentence to Chapter 1 -- "This book is meant to counter the currently popular notion that U.S. manufacturing is in an irremediable state of decline" -- leave no doubt as to its authors' take on the future of U.S. manufacturing. However optimistic, the book does not make its statements lightly. A project of Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a business research and executive education group based in Arlington, Va., "U.S. Manufacturing: The Engine for Growth" bases its conclusions both on a wealth of empirical data it has collected and analyzed, and on the Alliance's contacts with U.S. manufacturing executives. Its comprehensive look at the future of U.S. manufacturing draws six broad conclusions, and Chapter 9 outlines broad policy objectives as well as specific policy proposals it believes would strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector. The book was written by Manufacturers Alliance staff and edited by Thomas J. Duesterberg, president and CEO of Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, and Ernest H. Preeg, senior fellow in trade and productivity at the Alliance. Among the books six conclusions are that "U.S. manufacturing is the principal engine for growth in the modern economy." The conclusion, the author admits, "may appear paradoxical given manufacturing's declining share as a proportion of employment and nominal (although not real) output. But, despite this secular decline in the relative proportion of employment, manufacturing growth has been strong since the 1980s and will continue to be a driver of growth through 2010." Not that manufacturing can't use a bit of a boost. The six policy objectives Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI says would give it that boost include: greater freedom for innovation; a "sustained, high-level" of productive investment; a better educated and more flexible workforce; a higher rate of domestic savings; more open global trade and investment; and a lesser and more market-oriented role for government regulators.

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