From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (5/11/2012)

Using the Revere Copper Products plant in Rome, New York as an example, the New York Times tackles the complex issue of U.S. manufacturing subsidies.

MSNBC says the economic recovery, combined with the lingering high price of gas have two auto makers hoping the demand for newer, more fuel efficient vehicles will mean even brighter days in the weeks and months ahead.

This Wednesday the Brookings Institution issued a report that told us something which, if you’re reading this, you already knew and then some:  U.S. manufacturing has shed its Rust Belt image, diversified and maintained its role as an absolutely vital part of the nation’s economy.

The Brookings Institution also mapped, detailed and rated U.S. manufacturing by metropolitan area and region and concluded that certain geographical regions in the country specialize in certain segments of the manufacturing sector.

Speaking of which, guess which city according to Brookings ranks second in overall manufacturing job growth in the country?  Go ahead…guess.

Meanwhile, that very same think tank held a high-level confab in Columbus, Ohio this week, where a panel of business and political leaders, including Jamie Dimon of Chase and former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley declared, among other things, exports were the key to Ohio’s manufacturing future.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson continued to beat the bushes in support (and praise) of U.S. Manufacturing, this week in a speech at MIT during which he released a report titled “The Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs.”  Which, let’s be honest, is a little bit like releasing a report titled, “The Importance of Air.”

Writing in the Boston Globe op-ed page, Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez says this is a make-or-break time for “Made in the U.S.A.”

Anyway you cut it, it was a bad year for Osaka, Japan-based electronics manufacturer, Panasonic.

A Republican congressman from my home state of Illinois argues that a proposed bill full of mandates, reporting requirements and government sanctions will cost U.S. manufacturers billions and have a chilling effect on a number of the smallest of them.

MIT president Susan Hockfield said this week it is time to explode the myth and the negative stereotyping that centers around U.S. manufacturing and to dispel the notion that it is full of jobs that are “dumb, dirty and dull.”

With respect to increasing offshore labor costs, one blogger asks the intriguing question: is the U.S. regaining its luster?

When are China’s leaders going to wake up and smell the coffee?  First it was dumping an ocean of below-market solar panels in the U.S., which triggered a long and ardent backlash from both our solar power industry and a number of federal lawmakers, including people in the Obama White House. 

Now it’s below-cost Chinese aluminum in Australia, which seems to be triggering a similar backlash Down Under.  At some point my hope is the Chinese are going to realize that the fallout from their government-funded dumping ends up doing more harm than the increased market share does good. 

One more reason why China is still a good generation or two behind the West when it comes to market knowledge and marketplace savvy.

One Chinese manufacturer spilled the beans and said his company will soon be making an Apple TV.

One report claimed that manufacturing production slowed considerably in China in April.  The good news is that another reports that steel output rose in that country by 2.6% and that many of China’s mills are continuing to increase their capacity.  Could that spell the end of the hiccup of a slowdown that China’s been going through these past few months?

Or is the fact that China’s rapidly slowing April, the country’s slowest growth in nearly a decade, might bode something far worse for not only the Chinese, but the world”s economic outlook?

Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail in his former home state of Michigan this week and was, perhaps not surprisingly, mum on his recent outspoken criticsm of the 2008 bailout of the U.S. auto industry, which at the time had the full support of the Obama Administration.  Earlier in the week Romney, in no uncertain terms, took credit for the turnaround of the auto industry.

Finally, back to ex-Mayor Daley and the Brookings Institution, check out this point-of-view opinion piece which ran in the L.A. Times, in which the former Hizzoner and the head of the DC-based think tank contend that our cities might just serve as incubators for the next generation of U.S. manufacturing plants.  It’s actually a pretty good read and a pretty interesting concept.

Leave a Reply