American Industrial Policy: Free or Managed Markets? by William R. Nester

By William R. Nester

What's the government's right function within the economic system? Do loose or controlled markets top advertise financial improvement? Who can most sensible decide business winners and losers, the govt or deepest area? This booklet makes an attempt to reply to these and similar questions by way of exploring the evolution and result of federal rules in the direction of part a dozen financial sectors. these rules are principally made up our minds by way of the representatives of the certain undefined, bureaucrats from companies and departments that administer that undefined, and politicians with companies from that of their districts. those 'iron triangles' catch a 'virtuous' political financial cycle within which they use their united energy to supply themselves beneficial regulations which in flip complements their energy. As might be visible, the result of any such politicized business coverage approach varies significantly from one to the following.

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16 America's iron-ore and other mineral fields became a lialr ility rather than an asset to the steel industry. While sources of iron ore, coal, and limestone elsewhere in the world became Steel and Automobiles 27 relatively cheaper, most American steel producers remained dependent on domestic sources transported by rail to the smelters. Unfortunately, American ports were not equipped to handle the huge bulk carriers that helped bring down foreign iron-ore prices. I7 This raw-material price problem was particularly acute for midwestern steel-makers who suf fered the diminishing supply and thus rising cost of Mesabi iron ore from the Great Lakes region.

The strike threatened America's economy at a delicate time amidst the Korean War negotiations. On April 8, Truman ordered the government's seizure of the steel industry. The owners sued. On June 2, the Supreme Court ruled in the owners' favor. Truman reluctantly released the mills. On June 24, the steel strike was settled with higher wages and prices. During the 1950s, American steel priced itself out of both foreign and domestic markets. Each year, the steel unions negotiated higher wages and benefits with management, whereupon, shortly thereafter management would announce higher steel prices.

The global oil glut from the mid-1980s combined with conservation measures steadily to reduce electricity costs. Between 1981 and 1993, the energy consumed Steel and Automobiles 33 by American steel mills for each ton shipped dropped from 30 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) to 19 million BTUs. Although these policies saved the industry from destruction, only the steel producers themselves could recapture their past dynamism and competitiveness. The industry did so by ruthlessly cutting excess capacity and workers, and investing in the most advanced technologies.

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