For Manufacturers, The Grass Is Far Greener Overseas

American manufacturers with factories or sales subsidiaries overseas are outperforming their domestic counterparts. A new Conference Board study of more than 1,500 companies reports that U.S. multinationals during the 1980s posted faster growth than domestics in 19 out of 20 major industry groups, and higher earnings in 17.

The study also found that the number of U.S. manufacturers at home and abroad participating in major industrial markets shrank significantly -- part of an apparent world trend toward greater concentration in product markets. That finding may have important implications for trade policy, says Conference Board Economist Gail D. Fosler. It suggests that "global markets may be less purely competitive than policymakers assume and increasingly reflect the strategic actions of a few large producers."

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