Policy, economy: Cyclical manufacturing or fundamental concerns?

A Cato Institute analyst says manufacturing downturns are a cyclical fact of economic life, and relevant statistics should continue upward; Automation Federation tells policymakers how prosperity can continue.
By Control Engineering Staff June 13, 2008

Washington, DC – A Cato Institute analyst says manufacturing downturns are a cyclical fact of economic life, and relevant statistics will continue upward (barring shortsighted policy decisions). Meanwhile, Automation Federation representatives spent time in Washington, DC, last month explaining to policymakers how manufacturing prosperity can continue.
Not doom and gloom; a cycle, with strength where it counts
Following a recent Reuters report that “United States manufacturing declined in May for the fourth consecutive month while inflation surged to the highest in four years, heightening fears of stagflation,” Daniel Ikenson, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, commented, “Reports of slowing output in the manufacturing sector reflect sluggishness in the overall economy. Although the sensational conclusion is that this decline in output is further evidence of the‘hollowing out’ of American manufacturing, it is nothing more than a cyclical fact of economic life.”
Ikenson said the basics remain strong. “All relevant statistics for measuring the health of the sector– revenues, profits, output, value-added return on investment – have been trending upward for years and will continue to trend in that direction barring shortsighted policy intervention.”
Price stability would be a good goal. “If policymakers are to do anything,” Ikenson continued, “the Federal Reserve should return to fulfilling its mission of price stability. Fighting inevitabilities of the business cycle through easy money policies are driving up costs to American producers and consumers through the return of inflation.”
Automation, to help keep things going in the right direction
Automation Federation (AF) representatives met with elected officials and policymakers last month, expressing concerns about “workforce development and the impending crisis in automation;” the need for creation of more two- and four-year automation engineering curricula; and the necessity of an informed cyber security policy in defense of the U.S. industrial infrastructure. AF “promised to keep Congress fully informed about automation issues that impact the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and the vital role that the next generation of automation professionals will play.”
Details about meetings with officials, analysis
-Automation Federation organized five teams of five individuals for about 30 meetings, summarized in an AF capitol blog . AF organizations are ISA, OMAC, WBF, and WINA. Also see, Capital voice:

Automation Federation strategies evolve.

-Cato’s Ikenson, who authored “Thriving in a Global Economy: The Truth about U.S. Manufacturing and Trade,” released a policy analysis entitled, “While Doha Sleeps: Securing Economic Growth through Trade Facilitation.” The Cato Institute describes itself as a “non-profit public policy research foundation named for Cato’s Letters, a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.”
– Edited by  Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk
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