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on July 7, 2006
This is a good book following the same premises as earlier works. It amazes me the scorn Eamonn has recieved from naive reviewers who clearly have limited knowledge of Japanese business approaches and government practices, let alone U.S. hard industry facts.......The U.S and Japan economic drivers vary greatly as they measure themselves quite differntly despite the attempts of most so called western experts trying to interpret the strengths of the japanese economy....I suppose these reviewers dont consider the growing japan trade deficit a problem either, which by the way is less than China's..The key US/Japan differences: Government models. Advanced manufacturing and a flexible pro-business government were cornerstones for Americas rise to power and leadership...japan is now more effective in these areas than the U.S with respect to sustaining key industries....No nation has ever lead the world w/o a strong manufacturing base, period...we are clearly in decline in this area, and U.S. politicians, business leaders etc., fool the uneducated mainstraim with explainations like wage issues and outsourcing when the failure or political inability to invest in large capital costs for U.S. factories and retooling are of primary issue, which REMOVES the key high wage jobs from our middle class. Many of our industries are now hollowed out with key outsourcing dependencies forcing much smaller margins than our competitors, and weakening any prior political clout...Dont believe me...ask Westinghouse, or any U.S. LCD firm what percentage of the $20B LCD market they own, and what they expect in the future...afterall, Westinghouse developed LCD technology (answer: close to zero)....Advanced Manufacturing prowress has always been an economic weapon. The lack therof has splintered to become larger issues in the economy, and product development areas, as well as national security vulnerabilities..... Alexander Hamilton would role in his grave if he were alive today. And he would certainly work closely with Eamonn to fix our mess if its not too late already..
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HALL OF FAMEon January 26, 2009
"Unsustainable" provides convincing evidence that America's decline in manufacturing is serious, not due to high wages, and cannot be made up for by New Economy service production. We cannot continue to allow "the market" to decide whether it is in our national interest to produce computer chips or CHiPs TV series. Another important point is that today's manufacturing stars (Japan, Korea, China) got there by protecting their home markets, and have benefitted by transitions into related markets - eg. from computer chips to HDTVs, LEDs, lasers, and possibly nanotechnology too.

Fingleton begins by pointing out that few members of the American economic establishment have emerged from the dot-com and housing bubbles with much credit. Yet, these same people are trying once again to guide America's economic course today. Meanwhile, American manufacturing continues to decline.

Manufacturing is not merely assembly work - it also includes creating the high-tech components and the sophisticated and precise machines. It creates a wider range of jobs (most post-industrial jobs are for people of considerably higher than average IQ) than the New Economy (computer software, finance, health care, research, the Internet, legal, advertising, entertainment), higher wages (in capital-intensive businesses such as manufacturing, wages are likely to represent only a small proportion of total costs), and about 10X the amount of exports as a proportion of sales.

Japan has passed the U.S. in manufacturing output, with a workforce less than half that of America's, despite higher wages.

The long-term outlook for manufacturing demand is for expansion - as poor nations move ahead they'll want material goods, not post-industrial products like Wall St. portfolio hedging, person home page software.

Lack of American savings inhibits U.S. capital spending; other nations tend to employ their savings at home.

Modern manufacturing industries are difficult to enter - both large amounts of capital and proprietary know-how are required.

Fingleton contends that the high employee earnings in the software industry are due to hiring selectivity. Further, its expansion is limited by severe pirating and outsourcing to India, Russia, etc. Further, experts see software as increasingly being created by computers. Formerly difficult to enter because of capital intensity (expensive mainframes), it now only requires a P.C. and a phone line. It is also fairly simple to manage - interdependent aspects are kept to a minimum, far less than in the Toyota Production System. About 20% of those employed in U.S. IT are foreign born.

Much of the high-intellect manpower in the financial sector is wasted - eg. analysts' forecasts of earnings, mutual fund performance vs. index funds, charting (dis-proven by Malkiel), marketing, to say nothing of dangerous - eg. leverage and the mortgage bust. Foreign revenues in the financial sector are largely for services performed offshore by foreign personnel, resulting in little being remitted to the U.S. Our emphasis on finance has also brought accounting scandals, offshore banking to avoid taxation, insider trading, dishonest allocating of winning trades to in-house accounts vs. public funds, low-balling and backdating stock options.

Complex manufacturing includes lithographic "steppers" in semi-conductor manufacturing, silicon production, laser production, LEDs, HDTVs. Requires disciplined/reliable workers, knowledge intensive engineers, reliable power, and large amounts of capital. Shipbuilding, synthetic fiber production (carbon, clothes), textile machinery, steel,steel-making equipment do as well. Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Korea are all leaders in at least some of these areas, and with the exception of Korea, pay higher manufacturing wages than the U.S. New opportunities exist in nanotech, health care, pollution control, hydrology, and energy generation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. auto industry continues to falter.

Suggests longer-term stock options (eg. 7 years, forfeited if any American workers are laid off by the firm during that period), a tax on securities trades to discourage speculation, and tariffs.
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on May 17, 2006
The two "negative" reviews of this book are peculiar. This is the paperback version of a hardcover book, published with a different title -- not an uncommon practice in publishing. The complaint of the reviewers is that the contents are the same as the hardcover original! Well, yes, that's the point of a reprint.

More substantively, the author has earned a hearing through his decades-long reporting from Japan and his stubborn, well-documented contrarian outlook. For instance, he shows beyond question that during the long years of Japan's "collapse," its advanced manufacturing sector continued to grow -- in technological sophistication, and in world market share. Judge for yourself after reading, but look past the negative reviews. DISCLOSURE: I am a friend of the author's but am writing because I feel he deserves a hearing.
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on April 8, 2016
A voice that's even more relevant in 2016. Look at the emerging voting pattern in the Presidential elections, caused by unemployment, job losses and factory closures. QED, Eamonn Fingleton.
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on May 27, 2004
Fingleton knows what he's talking about.
His detractors have an agenda.
However, there is a serious problem with this book- it's the same as his previous book right down to chapter titles!!
The title has been changed and so has the cover but the content is a total reprint of his previous works in exactly the same words! I know, I've read them. Is it possible to plagiarize yourself?
There may be some minimal updating, ie, dates, small data, etc. but it's essentially the same book, repackaged. As i read it, i recognized everything, verbatim, from his stuff i read before. God knows why they'd try this rather than simply do a reprint or new edition of his previous volumes. I searched for new updated analyses but couldnt find anything totally new. I gave it 2 stars simply on the strengths of the previous books it represents but as a new release, this is useless.
For fingleton enthusiasts, it would be better to check his other stuff.
Hey, Eamonn, we know you read these reviews- how about an explanation?
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on November 5, 2003
A brilliant look at the looming economic crisis facing America, "Unsustainable" is an important wake-up call for Americans.

Fingleton has done a fantastic job of explaining why America's titanic, soaring trade deficits cannot be sustained forever and how this country is increasingly dependent on oceans of foreign capital.

It's difficult for me to fathom how any clear-minded thinking adult can read this powerful book and not be deepy worried about the future of America.
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on December 6, 2005
This book is nothing but a slightly updated re issue of "In Praise of Hard Industries" with an Introduction issued as a paperback. The publishers page even states right at the top quote: "Previously published as In Praise of Hard Industries in 1989 by Houghton Mifflin".

You might want to read this if you haven't read the original, but I find it very deceptive indeed to re issue it with a different name hoping to entice readers of the previous book into thinking they are going to get something other than a few cosmetic changes here and there!
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