STATE OF BUSINESS: The Capacity Trap

The Capacity Trap

No single statistic has cast more gloom over—or caused more talk about—the state of the economy than the weekly operating rate of the steel industry. When the rate, expressed as a percentage of the total capacity of the industry, started to drop last winter, it stirred the first major doubts about the course of business; its failure to rise has amplified recession fears. Last week the rate was scheduled at 51.7% of capacity, the lowest level for a nonholiday week in 1960.

Is the weekly percentage-of-capacity figure the best...

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