Wisconsin Public Radio

Manufacturing is still critical to the economy United States. Clyde Prestowitz, says it's time to start realizing the positive spillovers that manufacturing creates... Read more  

Events & Activities

Stephen Olson at Chinese Development Institute Conference


 Clyde Prestowitz giving presentation to CDI...


Steve Olson teaching trade negotiations at the Mekong Institute...


Stephen Olson to speak at upcoming workshop organized by the International Institute for Trade and Development on 

"Economics of GMS Agricultural trade in goods and services towards the world market"

Chiangmai, Thailand Sep 8-12.

Book Reviews & Citations

(05/25/05) Clyde Prestowitz and 3 Billion New Capitalists quoted in the New York Times

(05/25/2005) Clyde Prestowitz and 3 Billion New Capitalists quoted in the New York Times
C.E.O.'s, M.I.A.
New York Times (NY)
Copyright (c) 2005 The New York Times. All rights reserved.
May 25, 2005
C.E.O.'s, M.I.A.

After six weeks of being a foreign correspondent traveling around America, the biggest question I have come home with is not "What's the matter with Kansas?" but rather, "What's the matter with big business?"

America faces a huge set of challenges if it is going to retain its competitive edge. As a nation, we have a mounting education deficit, energy deficit, budget deficit, health care deficit and ambition deficit. The administration is in denial on this, and Congress is off on Mars. And yet, when I look around for the group that has both the power and interest in seeing America remain globally focused and competitive -- America's business leaders -- they seem to be missing in action. I am not worried about the rise of the cultural conservatives. I am worried about the disappearance of an internationalist, pro-American business elite.

Is there any company in America that should be more involved in lobbying for some form of national health coverage than General Motors, which is being strangled by its health care costs? Is there any group of companies that should have been picketing the White House more than our high-tech firms, after the Bush team cut the National Science Foundation budget by $100 million in 2005 and in 2006 has proposed shrinking the Department of Energy science programs and basic and applied research in the Department of Defense -- key sources of innovation?

Is there any constituency that should be clamoring for a sane energy policy more than U.S. industry? Is there any group that should be mobilizing voters to lobby Congress to pass the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement and complete the Doha round more than U.S. multinationals? Should anyone be more concerned about the fiscally reckless deficits we are leaving our children than Wall Street?

Yet, with a few admirable exceptions, American business has not gotten out front on these issues. In part, this is because boardrooms tend to be culturally Republican -- both uncomfortable and a little afraid to challenge this administration. In part, this is because of the post-Enron keep-your-head-down effect. And in part, this is because in today's flatter world, many key U.S. companies now make most of their profits abroad and can increasingly recruit the best talent in the world today without ever hiring another American.

So with business with its head in the clouds, labor with its head in the sand, the administration focused on terrorism and Congress catering to people who think "intelligent design" is something done by God and not by Intel, it's not surprising that "we don't have a strategy for making America competitive in the 21st century -- a century of three billion new capitalists," as Clyde Prestowitz put it. He is the author of a smart new book about the rise of China and India, called, appropriately, "Three Billion New Capitalists."

If we don't get our act together, this will affect not just our economy, but also our power. America has just completed the most sweeping transformation of its national security establishment since 1947. "Unfortunately, the entire restructuring has been oriented toward combating one threat -- terrorism," said David Rothkopf, a Carnegie Endowment scholar who has just published a timely and important new book, "Running the World," about the U.S. National Security Council.

"This is dramatically different from what was done in the wake of World War II, when, in addition to creating the N.S.C., Department of Defense, Air Force and C.I.A., we also created the U.N., I.M.F., World Bank, conducted the Marshall Plan, rebuilt Japan and recognized that domestic growth was the most important wellspring of our national security."

That domestic strength made us both feared and attractive. Remember: America won the cold war not just with containment, but, even more important, with attraction -- attraction for the society we were building.

"Undercutting that attraction with fiscal irresponsibility, inattentiveness to the engines of competitiveness on which future jobs will depend, cavalier treatment of the values that make the American way of life more appealing, closing our borders to the world -- and thus both losing our edge and our understanding of that world -- or focusing exclusively on enemies or the failings of the international community," added Mr. Rothkopf, "is both self-defeating and runs counter to every lesson of how we won the cold war."

But who will tell the people? If not the situation room, it better be the boardroom -- otherwise the costs to our country will exceed anything that can measured on a balance sheet.


Join our mailing list

Latest Publications

The Betrayal of American Prosperity.

The Trans-Paific Partnership and Japan.

Making the Mexian Miracle.

Industrial Policy and Rebalancing in the US and China.

The Evolving Role of China in International Institutions.


Contact us

Economic Strategy Institute

1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 414 |  Washington DC  |  20036
Ph (202) 213-7051  |  Fax (202) 965-1104  |  info@econstrat.org