American Competitiveness

In the Opinion page article "Bush, Clinton, and a US Industrial Policy," Aug. 26, the author argues that we are seeing the ongoing destruction of United States manufacturing, and that the US cannot compete effectively in the global economy without massive government direction of the economy in the form of an industrial policy. The author's rhetoric, however, is not backed up by facts; evidence indicates that US manufacturing is extremely competitive in today's world economy.

The US share of world manufacturing exports has grown from 14 percent to 18 percent in the last five years, while Japan's share is now smaller than our share. The volume of US manufacturing exports has nearly doubled since 1986. Meanwhile, the same figure for Germany and Japan has increased by less than 20 percent in that period. US manufacturing productivity has risen at an annual rate of 3.4 percent since 1980, a higher rate than Japan and Germany.

The evidence clearly indicates that US manufacturing is very competitive with rivals in Japan and Germany. It is difficult to see how the author can argue otherwise. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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