For decades, the booming factories and massive, cheap workforce of East Asia has been both the greatest fear and the greatest envy of the growing ranks of American declinists. What, then, are they to make of a recent article in the FT, which describes manufacturing business moving back across the Pacific to the U.S.? According to the report, Chinese wages have risen dramatically over the past decade, and they have been matched by increasingly stringent regulations that have eroded the country’s competitive advantage. America, meanwhile, boasts higher productivity, falling unit labor costs, and a reputation for quality unmatched by its Asian competitors. Ten years ago, outsourcing was a no-brainer, now many companies are beginning to think twice.
This news may come as a shock to the fashionable and vocal chorus of declinists, but Via Meadia is less surprised. Even the worst financial crisis in generations has done nothing to change the fact that America’s fundamentals are strong. America rose to power on the back of its innovation and its dynamism, two qualities that are in more demand now than ever in an increasingly fast-paced global economy.
We got fat and lazy with decades of easy dominance after World War Two; the shock of new competition was a painful one. But America is responding in the traditional way: adjusting, reforming, innovating, bouncing back. Some amazing things are happening around the world, and Via Meadia welcomes the rise of Asia, the renewal of Brazil and many other signs of progress from all over. But the US still has one important export that we make better than anybody else: the future still bears the label “Made in the USA.”