Made in America!

I don’t know if you’ve been following the “Made in America” series being run this week on the “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.”  If not, you should definitely check it out.  (You can get caught up by watching the previous segments on the ABC news web site.) 

I came across it by accident, seeing an advertisement for the segment while watching another show on ABC.  I don’t usually watch the ABC news because Sawyer’s style can, at times, be a little sappy for my liking.  (I watch the NBC program with Brian Williams every night.)  But this piece on ABC is outstanding.  They found a family willing to let ABC come into their home, take away everything not made in America, and agreed to live for a day on what was left.  ABC would then refurnish their home with products made in America.  This family believed that their home was filled with American-made products. 

They were shocked to return home and find the house stripped completely bare, with only a vase of flowers left sitting on the floor of an empty bedroom.  Everything was gone – all furniture, all appliances (including the built-ins, leaving gaping holes in the kitchen cabinetry) – everything.  Only the kitchen sink remained – the sink being American-made.  The family slept on bare floors and dined on PB&J sandwiches.  (Lucky for them ABC didn’t dig deeper, or they may have returned to find only a bare foundation, stripped of Chinese-made drywall and a structure fabricated from lumber imported from Sweden, Norway and Canada.)

The point of the series was jobs – and how many have been lost by no longer even caring where products are made.  The point was made that if each American family shifted just 18 cents per day of their spending to American-made products, 200,000 American manufacturing jobs would be created.  Just 18 cents a day.  That’s a total of about $8 billion per year for the whole nation.  Now, doing the math, how many jobs would be created if enough spending were shifted to American-made products to eliminate our trade deficit in manufactured products – about $300 billion per year?  That’s about 8 million jobs, which doesn’t even include the jobs created to support those manufacturers.  Unemployment problem solved.

In fact, there does seem to be a budding manufacturing renaissance taking hold in America.  Since the depths of the recession and the bankruptcy and subsequent government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, at least some Americans seem to have re-awakened to the critical role that manufacturing plays in our economy.  Sales of American-made autos have taken off and have actually taken back some of the domestic market share from the imports.  And, for whatever reason, whether it’s due to trade negotiations by the Obama administration or merely a more rapid recovery in the developing world, exports of American-made products have been picking up as well.  Manufacturing is currently the shining star of the fragile economic recovery in America.

So kudos to ABC for a great series that can only further renew interest in turning products over in search for the “made in the USA” label!

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7 Responses to Made in America!

  1. M. LeNord says:

    The reason for exports of American-made products picking up is because the dollar is much weaker today than it has been in a very very long time. In my life (40 years), I do not recall the Canadian looney ever being worth more than the dollar, except for the last few years. The dollar does not go as far as it used to. Until January of this year, the looney has out-valued the dollar since early 2008.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      That’s the conventional wisdom, but my own exhaustive study of the effects of currency exchange rates on trade imbalances has found that there is no relationship between the two. (See https://petemurphy.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/study-finds-no-relationship-between-currency-exchange-rate-and-trade-imbalance/.)

      Consider a couple of examples. In spite of a 300% decline in the dollar vs. the Japanese yen over the past three decades, our trade deficit with Japan, instead of falling, has actually exploded. And, in spite of the 20% rise of the Chinese yuan a couple of years ago, and its slow rise in the last year, our deficit with China has worsened as well.

      Even though the dollar has fallen substantially, import prices have actually risen less than export prices. Exporting nations (those exporting manufactured goods) simply absorb the extra cost caused by the falling dollar. Exporters of commodities like oil don’t, and we do end up paying higher prices for those imports.

      So the falling dollar doesn’t explain the rise in exports.

  2. Mark Hall says:

    Pete:

    I have also been watching this series.

    Let’s hope that it stirs a GREAT AWAKENING about America’s successful (as in failure) trade policy.

    Mark

    • Pete Murphy says:

      ABC Sunday morning program with Christiane Amanpour did a wrap-up of this series and an interesting panel discussion of how to revitalize American manufacturing. Lots of the usual: we need a better-educated work force. We need to forget about the current generation of products and focus on the next generation. Observing that no one makes light bulbs in America, someone commented that we need to forget them and develop the next generation of light bulb (just as an example). My question would then be what’s to stop that next generation product from being manufactured in China if you don’t first fix our trade policy? And if you first have to fix our trade policy, then we can start manufacturing the current generation of products in America now. What they were saying made absolutely no sense whatsoever. But at least they’re talking about it and are starting to wake up to the problem.

      • Mark Hall says:

        On a sadder note.

        Senator John McCain thought the I-phones and I-pads were made (manufactured) here in the U.S. since they are “high tech”.

        An example of our clueless leaders.

  3. Tim Hill says:

    We have opened a store http://www.onlyusastore.com just for 100% Made in USA products. Although we are small we are affordable and as the public interest grows so will we.
    Our main goal is to help anyone who wants to buy American made products.

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