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U.S. manufacturing and the importance of international trade: it’s not what you think


  • Kliesen, Kevin L.
  • Tatom, John A.


The public often gauges the strength of the U.S. economy by the performance of the manufacturing sector, especially by changes in manufacturing employment. When such employment declines, as has been the trend for many years, it is often assumed to be evidence of the slow death of U.S. manufacturing and an associated rise in imports. This article outlines key trends in U.S. manufacturing, especially the strong performance of manufacturing output and productivity, and their connection to both exports and imports. The authors use ordinary regression, causality, and cointegration analyses to provide empirical evidence for the positive role of imports in boosting manufacturing output. Policies to bolster exports at the expense of imports would significantly harm U.S. manufacturing.

Suggested Citation

  • Kliesen, Kevin L. & Tatom, John A., 2013. "U.S. manufacturing and the importance of international trade: it’s not what you think," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 27-50.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2013:i:january:p:27-50:n:v.95no.1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael D. Bordo & Joseph G. Haubrich, 2012. "Deep recessions, fast recoveries, and financial crises: evidence from the American record," Working Paper 1214, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Tatom John A, 2007. "The US-China Currency Dispute: Is a Rise in the Yuan Necessary, Inevitable or Desirable?," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 1-15, October.
    3. Susan Houseman & Christopher Kurz & Paul Lengermann & Benjamin Mandel, 2011. "Offshoring Bias in U.S. Manufacturing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 111-132, Spring.
    4. Kevin L. Kliesen & William Poole, 2000. "Agriculture outcomes and monetary policy actions: Kissin' cousins?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 1-12.
    5. John A. Tatom, 1988. "The link between the value of the dollar, U.S. trade and manufacturing output: some recent evidence," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 24-37.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kazmer, David Owen, 2014. "Manufacturing outsourcing, onshoring, and global equilibrium," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 463-472.


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