Former GE CEO Jack Welch: China Overtaking USA in Manufacturing Much Ado about Nothing
So you may have seen the headlines - the United States is slipping from its long-time position of economic dominance. Evidence: news that China is on the verge of become the top global manufacturer.
But to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch such headlines really don't mean much. Welch, appearing on MSNBC's June 21 "Morning Joe," explained that yes China is about to take the manufacturing "crown" from the United States, what's important is the kind of products the Chinese are making.
"If you look at what China's manufacturing - they're manufacturing low value-added stuff and as long as it stays that way and we keep doing the high-end stuff and moving up the food chain, we'll be all right," Welch said. "Now, we have not moved up the food chain as fast as we should and we need more engineers and we need to be doing all that, but we are not going to be paying people $200 a month and beginning these low value-added products. It is not going to happen. I'm not that worried about it."
Host Joe Scarborough asked that as long as China leads the way in manufacturing these "low value-added" products and not higher end items, the United States is still a solid part of the global economy:
SCARBOROUGH: So you say as long as we're making iPods and super computers instead of dart boards and marbles we're OK?
WELCH: That's an overstatement but that's the idea.
SCARBOROUGH: That's what we do here - overstatement.
WELCH: I don't think this currency peg by the Chinese is a big deal. I think it's a typical Chinese move.
SCARBOROUGH: So you're bullish on America?
WELCH: Very bullish on America.
Scarborough lamented the notion that the United States was threatened by other economic pressures. And as Welch explained - the Chinese aren't innovators and therefore their ability to dominate economically is inhibited.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what I'm sick and tired of, Jack? Everybody's complaining. Mexicans are invading us and the Chinese are going to overtake us. We live in an age, we live in a century dominated by the most technologically advanced country. We live in a technological age. We've got eight of the top 10 research universities on the planet here. Who's going to beat us this century?
WELCH: What new products have come from China in the last five years? Name a good product.
MARK HALPERIN: Really great marbles.
SCARBOROUGH: They got great marbles and dart boards. Boom - the target. The red little thing is really vibrant. That's a good point.
HALPERIN: High-speed rail, they're big in high-speed rail.
SCARBOROUGH: They're working on it.
WELCH: No, the French are the high-speed rail stuff. And the Japanese are the high-speed rail stuff.
HALPERIN: China's trying to.
WELCH: Way behind.