America As Low-Cost Manufacturing Center

A blog about business and economics.
July 3 2012 11:23 AM

America As Low-Cost Manufacturing Center

Louis Gallois, chairman and CEO of European aerospace and defence group EADS, right, and Airbus CEO Thomas Enders pose in front of military transport aircraft A400M at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse on Jan. 13, 2011.

Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/GettyImages.

I focused last week on the political economy aspects of an Airbus plant opening in Mobile, Ala., but Stephen Trimble's piece for Flight Global makes it clear that there are some very down-to-earth dollars and cents aspects to this move as "the new factory in Mobile gives Airbus a relatively low-cost manufacturing centre to target a US market expected to generate thousands of orders for narrowbody aircraft over the next 20 years."

Americans are used to thinking of ourselves as a high-wage manufacturing center at risk of losing jobs to low-wage producers in Asia, but in this context Mobile is the low-wage alternative to Hamburg and Toulouse. At the moment the market for A-320 class aircraft is growing strongly, so production in Mobile won't come at the expense of production in Europe. But in the event of a future downturn, European aerospace workers ought to be worried that it's their factories that will get shut down rather than cheaper nonunion ones in the American South.


Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.