2016: The End of the Age of America
By LAUREN KIESOW, Associate Editor, Manufacturing.net
The Mayans prophesized that 2012 will mark the demise of human civilization. And while many people disregard this apocalyptic fable, is it possible to completely disregard the fact that The International Monetary Fund estimates that “The Age of America” will come to its end in 2016?
Specifically, 2016 is the year when China's growth intersects the decline of the U.S.'s share of world gross domestic product. Essentially, their economy will be more lucrative than ours. It should be noted, though, that there is room for discussion regarding the exact end of our era, as the IMF’s bold statement rests on whether or not the growth of the respective economies is determined by purchasing power parity or GDP at market rates.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that estimates can be wrong. Whether this projection holds water or not, the seed has been planted.
Regardless, this takeover isn’t exactly unexpected news. It seemed more a matter of “when” than “what if.” As the minutes tick down, I can’t help but wonder how this will further affect American manufacturing. The United States is still making the slow climb out of an economic tailspin, but optimistically, this tailspin spurred a renewed vigor in American-made goods and pledges to minimize offshoring and promote reshoring. This new deadline has the potential to continue the push for bolstering the manufacturing milieu.
With the steady loss of manufacturing jobs and facilities over the years, some would argue that “The Age of America” has already started its decline. But knowing the passion and pride that manufacturers have for this country, I sincerely doubt that people will take this news passively. I see this as a springboard for manufacturers and consumers alike to take a hard look at where we are now and where we want to be in the future.
While China may surpass us, I feel that the adage “you get what you pay for” will be in our favor. It’s no secret that China has had a string of safety issues and recalls pertaining to everything from toys to milk. Those publicized issues were simply the tipping points to long-standing assumptions that products from China carry dangers. If consumers constantly have that nagging voice in the backs of their heads, wondering whether the Chinese product will have negative impacts, they will eventually tire of the uncertainty and turn to the product that brings peace of mind. In the end, I’d like to think that quality trumps cheap.
Now is the time for manufacturers to really bring forth their best -- a call to arms, if you will. We need to stay relevant and competitive in order to give the industry the push it needs to remain a global force. This can range from following a Lean program to reduce product lead times to investing in research and development to produce the best product on the market. It will show that we won’t take a demotion lightly. And I wouldn’t expect us to.
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