DISNEY & CO. DRIVING THE ECONOMY? THAT'S GOOFY
Wall Street megadeals, like those that saw Walt Disney merge with Capital Cities/ABC and Westinghouse Electric purchase CBS, still seem to have the power to propel the business press toward flights of fantasy. How else to explain your recent editorial insisting that entertainment has become "the driving force of the U.S. economy" ("The expanding entertainment universe," Editorials, Aug. 14). Despite the well-publicized downsizing of some large industrial companies, manufacturing remains the true engine of American economic growth.
U.S. economic prowess has been built on high productivity, low inflation, and booming exports--all areas where the manufacturing sector, not entertainment, excels. Manufacturing productivity grew by an average of 2.4% from 1985 to 1993, six times the productivity growth elsewhere in the economy. Meanwhile, prices of manufactured goods have risen an average of only 2.4% a year since 1981, half the rate of services. And in the past five years, exports of U.S. manufactured goods grew at an average annual rate of more than 10%.
Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy may be worthy ambassadors for American entertainment, but when it comes to representing overall economic power, they take a backseat to computers, semiconductors, and aircraft.
Jerry J. Jasinowski