Obama to Appoint Manufacturing Czar

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE58600420090907

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.

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9 Responses to Obama to Appoint Manufacturing Czar

  1. Mark A. Hall says:

    Pete,

    With regard to manufacturing employment being even lower next Labor Day.

    If the administration re-classifies and then includes “Domestic Engineers” in their manufacturing employment numbers, we should experience a very nice increase in manufacturing employment.

    If you can’t CREATE it, then you RE-CLASSIFY it.

    Just think, we can change our perceived manufacturing recovery with (1) keystroke.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      That reminds me of the Bush administration’s attempt to have burger-making at fast food restaurants reclassified as “manufacturing,” their logic being that hamburgers are assembled from components.

  2. Mark A. Hall says:

    On a serious note.

    I hope that they are really going to do SOMETHING.

    The job market is actually getting bleaker each day.

    Thus far, if you are middle aged and you are not an educator, a healthcare worker, a salesperson or a computer/software guru, you appear to be totally out of luck.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      In some cases, educators didn’t learn they were fired until just before the start of this school year. And how much longer will health care be considered a safe haven when health care reform efforts get serious about cutting costs?

      • Mark A. Hall says:

        Pete:

        You need to take a job as an instructor at the University of Michigan and hire some of us as your assistants.

        I can be had for $100,000.

        My title could be Associate, Clinical, Undergraduate aduate Assistant.

        However, this could only entail actual class room instruction of (4) hours per week. No ups & No extras…

      • Pete Murphy says:

        I wonder if economics professors will change their teachings when cash-strapped universities begin cutting their pay and benefits. I wonder if they will then begin to doubt the economic models they’ve been peddling. That day is coming soon. Oakland University (here in Oakland County, MI) has yet to begin classes this year because professors are out on strike over wage and benefit issues.

  3. ClydeB says:

    What happens when the unemployment payments dry up for the several million who still get weekly checks? Their expenses will continue. I fear more and more that there will be a significant number turn to taking what they need by force. I don’t leave the federal government off of this list. The accumulated wealth of indiviuals will be at severe risk of confiscation to help offset the shortfall in funding.
    Redistribution may become the norm.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      I think the fear of a rise in crime is certainly a valid concern. Governments are wary of social unrest, one reason they’ve been quick to crank up the printing press at the treasury. High unemployment is very destabilizing. It was the most important factor that enabled Hitler’s rise to power.

      Regarding the issue of wealth redistribution by the government, some higher taxes, especially for people making more than about $200,000 per year, is certainly a possibility. I don’t foresee higher taxes for lower income groups because of the government’s concern about snuffing out what little recovery may be evident. Actually, my fear is the opposite – that more stimulus spending and federal budget deficits will drive us ever-closer to insolvency as a nation. We desperately need to put people back to work and get incomes rising again, and that’s simply not possible as long as we continue to allow other countries to drain away our manufacturing jobs.

  4. ClydeB says:

    Higher taxes on wage earners are a given, but accumulated assets have been mentioned more and more as a source of funds for redistribution.

    The House health care bill will allow the secretary access to bank accounts and financial records. Presumably the access is intended for determination of ability to pay insurance premiums, but once access is a fact, who knows what happens next.

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