Archive for October 15th, 2011


celebrating resiliency

My October column in Mechanical Engineering magazine.

It sounds like a classic example of the tail wagging the dog—and if it is, that’s just fine—but now that GM is making money, as profits hit $6.2 billion last year and the company has $32 billion in cash, many American manufacturers can exhale a deep sigh of relief knowing that it is possible to return to profitability.

It may not be quite yet the time to rejoice in the growth of reverse globalization, but the U.S. might be starting to reclaim some of its turf. The fact is that some manufacturers do tend to prefer their supply chains close to market instead of a world away. Plus, as logistical costs increase, the cost differential of doing business outside borders is lessening. Going offshore is not just about paying workers less; considerations such as the costs of things like electricity, taxes, land, and the increase of indirect supply chain costs are part of the equation on whether to manufacture in the U.S. or outside of it. Additionally, some countries restrict foreign access to government contracts, making the incentive to go international less attractive.

With these factors in mind, some economists believe the U.S. could supplant China as the manufacturing hub of the world by 2022.

Our story of GM’s resurgence, written by Alan Brown, is a case study on how one large American iconic company has pulled itself from the brink of extinction and turned its fortunes. In some ways, it’s a feel-good story about American perspicacity. It is also a story about the willingness to work hard, despite setbacks, during a time that seemed desperate.

Ten years ago last month, New Yorkers along with all Americans and most of the world were shocked over the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center and crippled New York City. Ten years after all seemed bleak, the city—still bearing a heavy heart over the thousands of people who perished—has rebounded. While doing so, New Yorkers have demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit.

The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

October 2011

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