Back in 1988, foreign investors poured more than $72.7 billion into the U.S. to buy or set up businesses. Then, over the next four years, as recessions hit the U.S. and then spread overseas, the flood of such direct foreign investment slowed by 79%, to just $15.3 billion in 1992.
Now, America's robust growth and newfound competitiveness are turning the tide once again. The Commerce Dept. reports that foreign outlays to acquire companies or establish new businesses in the U.S. soared 71% last year, to $26.2 billion, with most of the rise plowed into the manufacturing sector.