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Manufacturing Myths

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

John D. Mueller argues that ending the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s chief reserve currency will help America “to re-industrialize” – thus implying that America has de-industrialized (“To Bring Back U.S. Manufacturing, Get the World to Dump the Dollar,” Oct. 8). The facts do not support this implication.

Real industrial output in the U.S. today is near the all-time high that it reached just before the Great Recession and, except for falling during recessions, has steadily risen over the past three decades. In 2018 real industrial output is 69 percent higher than it was in 1987. Similarly, U.S. industrial capacity has also steadily risen; it is now at an all-time high and 86 percent larger than it was in 1987.

Mr. Mueller rightly calls on Americans to reject the Trump administration’s protectionism. But by lending credence to one of the president’s favorite myths – that Americans “don’t make things anymore” – Mr. Mueller needlessly fuels protectionists’ fervor.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

P.S. See also here.


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