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The American Economy

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The American Economy

The American economy is a vibrant, free-market system that is constantly developing out of the choices and decisions made by millions of citizens who play multiple, often overlapping roles as consumers, producers, investors and voters. The changes in the organization and performances of the manufacturing industry over the last century have helped shape the American economy. The Automotive industry perhaps made the biggest changes to their manufacturing processes. I will be reviewing the role of the industrialist Henry Ford and his innovative methods that changed the organization and performance of the American manufacturing industry forever. He produced an affordable car, paid high wages and helped create a middle class, which in turn fueled the America Industrial revolution into overdrive mode. I will also review the impact of these performance and organizational changes on the service sector and the agricultural industry. But first we look at the automotive industry.

The requirements for mass production of a particular commodity must include the existence of mass consumption of the commodity, sufficient to justify large investment. Most early automobile companies were small shops, hundreds of which each produced a few handmade cars, predominately sold to the rich. In America almost all of the producers were assemblers who put together components and parts that were manufactured by separate firms. The assembly technique also lent itself to an advantageous method of financing. It was possible to begin building motor vehicles with minimal investment of capital by buying parts on credit and selling the finished cars for cash; the cash sale from manufacturer to dealer has been integral in the marketing of motor vehicles in the United States ever since.

The outstanding contribution of the automotive industry to technological advance was the introduction of full-scale mass production, a process combining precision, consistency, interchangeability, organization, and continuity. America, with its large population, high standard of living, and long distances, was the natural birthplace of the technique, which had been partly explored by agricultural methods, in the 19th century. The U.S. role was emphasized in the popular description of standardization and interchangeability as "the American system of manufacture." The fundamental te...

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... But during times of hardship, economy downturns or even long-term recession, a basic instinct of survival takes over. As a rule, consumers look for the best values for what they spend, while producers seek the best price and profit for what they have to sell. Government, at the federal, state and local levels, seeks to promote the public safety, assure reasonable competition. The U.S. economy has changed in other ways as well. The population and the labor force have moved dramatically from farms to cities, from fields to factories and, above all, to service industries. In today's economy, the providers of personal and public services far outnumber producers of agricultural and manufacture goods. The consumer will exert a measure of influence over the market economy. Naturally, most consumers look for good values when they buy, as well as product reliability and safety. If one automobile manufacturer, domestic or foreign, produces a better car at a lower price, the market will begin to shift as that car attracts more sales than its competitors. In theory, this phenomenon rewards efficient producers who maintain high quality at low prices, and drives out those who cannot compete.
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