Business: Trying to Toughen Up Steel

A painful process: out with the old to ring in the new

Like an aging heavyweight gone to flab, U.S. industry has fallen behind some of its world-class competitors. Many steel, rubber, auto and other essential plants have become outmoded because not enough capital has been invested in them. If the nation is to restore its technological edge, U.S. industry will have to modernize by building new factories and closing inefficient plants.

Nowhere is the need for this conversion process more acute than in the hulking, old steel industry. Fully 26% of its plant is outdated, and replacing it with the best technology...

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