Speed Up That Line!

Cost-cutting, signs of life in Asia, and lean inventories may mean manufacturing will join the profit party

For the past 18 months, consumers, Wall Street investors, homebuilders, and just about everybody else in the economy have been enjoying a nonstop party. But old-line U.S. manufacturers have been sulking in the corner like wallflowers. The rest of the economy shrugged off the global financial crisis--even profited from it, as prices of all sorts of goods plunged. Meanwhile, manufacturers were pummeled by the collapse of export markets, falling profits, and stock prices that were anything but exuberant. While most companies were scrounging for workers in a tight labor market, manufacturers cut payrolls by some 400,000 workers last year.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.