This book is about industrial policy in the US. However, this description is probably not complete enough to tell the reader what policies are dealt with between the book’s covers. There are two preliminary problems. The first is that the book is written by a pair of economists and there is a widely quoted truism that, “. . . (a)ny random collection of six economists is sure to produce at least a dozen different opinions on the subject . . .”! The second problem, closer to the subject, has been expressed by many other authors; that no generally accepted definition of industrial policy exists in the literature. Our first task is to address the question of what industrial policy is, and we answer that question in this chapter. Much of the discussion revolves around the problem of market failure and the options and needs for government to intervene to make markets work better. In the next chapter, Chapter 2, we point out that a frequent problem with industrial policy is that governments are not always capable of replacing or improving markets adequately. Next, in Chapters 3 and 4, we ask what role these ideas have played in America’s economic past and in more recent times. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 deal in more detail with the industrial policies of the Obama administration, pointing out ways in which these policies mark a turning point in the role of industrial policy in America’s economic history.
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