Industrial Policy in America

Industrial Policy in America

Breaking the Taboo

Marco R. Di Tommaso and Stuart O. Schweitzer

In contrast to what observers have frequently argued, this timely and thought provoking book suggests that the concept of industrial policy is not alien to the American past and present. The debate on this topic in the US has always been full of contradictory rhetoric and policy practices, and the expert authors therefore acknowledge a need to rethink the traditional antagonist positions. They illustrate that contemporary markets continue to demand to be fixed by government policies, and governments continue to show how fixing-the-market policies might fail. The conclusion is that the future of industrial policy is about how to make both markets and governments better in their functioning, but that the real goal for industrial policy is to make better-market and better-government policies consistent with the goal of building a better society.

Chapter 5: Industrial policy of the Obama administration

Marco R. Di Tommaso and Stuart O. Schweitzer

Subjects: economics and finance, industrial economics


The Obama administration has discussed, announced and promoted industrial policy (IP) interventions (without using the specific words too much!) by identifying broad national goals, and then identifying targets toward which these policies can be directed to achieve those goals. IP ideas have been present since the beginning of the 2008 campaign days. However, President Obama started his mandate in very special times and he soon had to adapt all his declarations and actions to focus on the financial crisis. And then, after a short while, the results of the mid-term elections made his capacity to implement the strategic design announced at the beginning of the mandate very weak. The crisis has demanded immediate results since the very beginning with the effect of making long-run goals, policy and strategy difficult to explain to the general public and thus support by public opinion was not easy to gain. And after the mid-term elections, the situation became even more complex because the high priority interventions designed to achieve short-run goals needed large bipartisan consensus.

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