Steel: Technology to the Rescue

Among U.S. industries, none has paid a higher price for hazy vision than steel. Lulled by the surprising strength of the market after World War II, American steelmen for years merely expanded in stead of modernizing their costly plants and processes. As labor costs climbed, they raised prices, in the comfortable conviction that anything as basic as steel would inevitably prosper with the U.S. economy. Instead, when world steel capacity finally overtook demand, the U.S. industry ran into a triple squeeze from severe foreign competition, Washington pressure to hold down prices and labor-cost increases. Result: since...

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