As reported in the above-linked Reuters article, President Obama will appoint Ron Bloom, head of the U.S. authomotive task force and senior advisor to Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, to lead an effort aimed at revitalizing American manufacturing.
The White House said in a statement issued on Sunday that Bloom is to work with government departments including Commerce, Treasury, Energy and Labor to develop new initiatives affecting the manufacturing sector.
The White House said Obama is committed to partnering with the private sector to spur innovation, invest in the skills of American workers, and help manufacturers prosper in global markets by promoting exports.
… (Obama said:) “We must do more to harness the power of American ingenuity and productivity so that we can put people back to work and unleash our full economic potential.”
Bloom said in the statement that a strong manufacturing sector is a cornerstone of American competitiveness.
“As we meet the challenges of globalization and technological change, it is vital to have a concerted effort across the administration to support an innovative, vibrant manufacturing sector,” Bloom said.
Let’s hope this is the beginning of a serious effort to revitalize American manufacturing and not just a Labor Day gimmick. If it is, give Obama credit for recognizing that manufacturing must play a key role in remaking our economy.
The problem is that he’ll soon find that ingenuity, productivity, innovation and competitiveness aren’t the problems. Does he think that American manufacturers haven’t already done everything in their power to boost these factors in a futile effort to survive the onslaught of foreign competitors? The problem is trade policy which has failed to account for the role of disparities in population density in driving trade imbalances. Since the signing of GATT (the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in 1947, America has steadily been transformed into a host to a horde of parasitic economies characterized by anemic consumption and badly bloated labor forces, desperate to prey upon America’s market and manufacturing jobs.
No rebirth of American manufacturing is possible without a change in trade policy that essentially tells the rest of the world, “We’ll buy as much from you as you buy from us.” But since so much of the world is incapable of consuming products at a rate that would permit them to import American products, the only way to achieve such balance is by imposing restrictions on their exports – whether through import quotas or tariffs that make domestic manufacturing more appealing. And either approach implies complete abandonment of the World Trade Organization. Even if he understood the flaws in our trade policy, would Obama have the guts to take that step? Would any president?
This is nice Labor Day symbolism and theater, but I predict that manufacturing employment will be even lower by next Labor Day.