I know what you mean, Chuck. I grew up in Detroit. When I looked for work in the early 1970s, you could get a great job with little experience and little education. When things took a dip, you couldn't get a job doing anything.
I know of entire towns that are driven by automotive, Rob. If the auto plant goes down, half the town is thrown out of work. If the auto plant is humming 24 hours a day, everyone reaps the benefits, from grocers and hardware store owners to real estate companies and home builders.
I think you're right, Chuck. And it will be a real boon to the economy. Tragl noted automotive is already in strong growth mode. As that increases, the growth will put even more steel in the recovery. Now, if we can only get housing back on track.
I believe Tragl is right about automotive, not only because the economy is coming back, but because there's a lot of pent-up consumer desire in that market. Many people are driving ten-year-old cars these days and have been waiting to see if the rest of the economy is coming back before they pop for a new car. In the next year or two, we'll see a lot of those consumers unload their 10- and 12-year-old vehicles.
It may be that, led by the upturn in automotive, there are actually more investments in automation productivity especially compared to the most recent years. Optimization is always important as a way to boost profits, even if hiring and expansion are not priorities.
Nice comments, Rich. Interesting that Tragl attributes some of the US recovery to automotive. Other areas of manufacturing also seem to be coming back -- aerospace, pharma, automation. Ordinarily, housing leads the way out of a recession. Not so this time. This time it seems to be manufacturing.
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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