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Big Industry in Manufacturing Myths

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Washington Post:

Harold Meyerson insists yet again that America has lost its manufacturing, alleging also that investors are abandoning the U.S in favor of “nations with far cheaper workforces” (“Obama’s Factory Factor,” August 21).  Mr. Meyerson predictably singles out China as one such nation.

Facts utterly contradict Mr. Meyerson’s fantasies.  First, U.S. manufacturing revenues (adjusted for inflation) reached their all-time high in 2006. 2006 was also a peak year for inflation-adjusted manufacturing profits in the U.S. and for inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing exports.  And the U.S. accounts for the largest share of the globe’s manufacturing output; Americans today produce 2.5 times more manufactured goods than do the Chinese. [See here.]

Second, in 2007 the flow of per capita foreign direct investment into the U.S. was up 13 percent from 2006, to $675.  In China, it was up 14 percent – to $55.  [I derived these these figures from here, here, and here; I got population figures from the CIA World Factbook .]

Harold Meyerson is a perfect example of the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man”: “He’s as blind as he can be / Just sees what he wants to see.”

Donald J. Boudreaux

I also posted this letter in the Comments section that accompanies Meyerson’s articles.  It’s extraordinarily disheartening to read most of the other comments.


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