A global economics lesson: We're all in this together

Two weeks in Europe last month taught me two things. One is that while British newspapers the rough equivalent of American cable news channels – personality-driven, pointless and mind-numbing – European TV news is understated, fact-driven and smarter-looking than most anything we have here.

11/01/2008


Two weeks in Europe last month taught me two things. One is that while British newspapers the rough equivalent of American cable news channels %%MDASSML%% personality-driven, pointless and mind-numbing %%MDASSML%% European TV news is understated, fact-driven and smarter-looking than most anything we have here. The other is that there is an insatiable interest in American politics and economics.

Perhaps that's because they understand in Europe what we've never quite fully grasped here on the west side of the pond. We tended to view this as a collapse of the American economic market. They knew that this was a global economic crisis requiring global cooperation.

Perhaps that message is finally filtering to our manufacturing plants and our corner offices. When everyone in the world suffers from a slowdown in manufacturing and a collapse of markets, there is no longer a THEM and an US . It's all of us, all together, all suffering, all working toward a way out.

We can get mad, of course, and there is plenty to be mad about. Some of it is corporate greed, of course, but there are some fundamentals of economics that we all should have learned in civics class. One of the reasons Baby Boomers had pretty easy lives is that our parents seldom borrowed more than they could repay. A mortgage was something you battled to burn, not something you refinanced. Our parents tried to pay cash whenever they could. They saved for a rainy day. We, their children, have lived a life based mostly on having what we can't afford. We lived by the sword of credit for many years; we were pretty badly wounded by it in October.

So our new president has that challenge to struggle with, on top of wars and climate issues and the general health of our economy. But with the election over, perhaps we can go back to living as one nation for a little while and try that strategy.

One of the best things that occurs after an election is that we find a way as a nation to put aside the differences and try to find the common ground. Perhaps in these tough times, we find the strength to do that with the rest of the world's citizens as well.

In our small way in manufacturing, we hope that's one outcome of Global Plant Engineering, which debuts this month. We live in this global economy, in this global manufacturing community. It costs nothing to reach out to that community.

We can afford to reach out. We cannot afford not to.





Top Plant
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Product of the Year
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System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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