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On U.S. Global “Competitiveness”

A more fundamental point, of course, is that U.S. “competitiveness” is a very misleading term.

Mr. M__:

I’m genuinely sorry that, because you think me to “turn a blind eye to the decimation of US industrial competitiveness by globalism and China most particularly,” you’ll stop reading Café Hayek.

But before you go, let me share with you a few facts and then ask a question:

Real U.S. GDP is today more than ten times higher than at the end of WWII, about four times higher than it was in 1970, and about 50 percent higher than when China joined the WTO.

– In the supposed golden age of American manufacturing (namely, the quarter century after WWII), annual U.S. goods exports averaged 4.0 percent of U.S. GDP.*

– From 1971 through 2001 (the year – in December – in which China joined the WTO) annual U.S. goods exports averaged 6.7 percent of U.S. GDP.*

– From 2002 through 2022, annual U.S. goods exports averaged 8.0 percent of U.S. GDP* – that is, average annual U.S. goods exports today as a percentage of GDP are not only significantly higher than they were before China joined the WTO, but fully double what they were during America’s alleged “golden age” of manufacturing.

Can you tell me a compelling story that squares these facts with the belief that recent decades have witnessed a ‘decimation’ of U.S. industrial competitiveness?

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

* Calculated from data gathered from here and here.