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The Competitive Position of U.S. Manufacturing Firms


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  • Robert E. Lipsey
  • Irving B. Kravis


This paper distinguishes between the competitive position of U.S. firms and that of the U.S. and other countries as geographical locations for production. While the share of the U.S. in world exports of manufactures fellmore than 40 per cent between 1957 and 1977, the share of all U.S. firms from all locations declined much less and the share of U.S. multinational enterprises increased.The comparative advantage of U.S. multinational firms, as measured by the industry distribution of their exports from all locations, changed very little between 1966 and 1977. At the same time, there were large shifts in the comparative advantage of the parent firms in the U.S., their overseas affiliates, and foreign firms. The changes for the U.S. parents and their affiliates reflected differences among industries in the extent to which export production shares moved from the U.S. to the affiliates' host countries. The shift took place in all the industry groups but was largest for metals and chemicals and smallest for transport equipment. The rise in the share of world exports accounted for by U.S.multinational firms and the decline in the share of the U.S. as a geographical location suggests that the search for causes of the changed position of the U.S. should be directed not to deficiencies in American industrial or technological leadership but to other price and cost determining influences, such as productivity, wage setting, taxation, domestic inflation, and exchange rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1557.

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Date of creation: Feb 1985
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Publication status: published as Lipsey, Robert E. and Irving B. Kravis. "The Competitive Position of U.S. Manufacturing Firms." Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, No. 153,(June 1985), pp. 127-154.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1557

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Cited by:
  1. Rachel McCulloch, 1987. "International Competition in Services," NBER Working Papers 2235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert E. Lipsey, 1987. "Changing Patterns of International Investment In and By the United States," NBER Working Papers 2240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Dollar, 1986. "Multinational Enterprises, the Export of Invisibles, and the Changing Structure of the U.S. Current Account, 1958-84," UCLA Economics Working Papers 393, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Robert E. Lipsey, 2000. "Affiliates of U.S. and Japanese Multinationals in East Asian Production and Trade," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in East Asian Economic Development, NBER-EASE Volume 9, pages 147-189 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert E. Lipsey & Irving B. Kravis, 1986. "The Competitiveness and Comparative Advantage of U.S. Multinationals, 1957-1983," NBER Working Papers 2051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1992. "Technological Characteristics of Industries and the Competitiveness of the U.S. and its Multinational Firms," NBER Working Papers 2933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Blomstrom, Magnus & Lipsey, Robert E., 1986. "The Export Performance of Swedish and U.S. Multinationals," Working Papers, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University 86-32, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Magnus Blomstrom, 1991. "Host Country Benefits of Foreign Investment," NBER Working Papers 3615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Magnus Blomström & Linda S. Goldberg, 2001. "Introduction to "Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey"," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Robert E. Lipsey, 1989. "The Internationalization of Production," NBER Working Papers 2923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rachel McCulloch, 1988. "The Challenge to U.S. Leadership in High-Technology Industries (Can the United States Maintain Its Lead? Should It Try?)," NBER Working Papers 2513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


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