Robert Atkinson was one of the featured speakers at this year's National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Annual Conference. He is the from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and author of Innovations Economics: The Race for Global Advantage.
He covered several points about the economics that can affect the fluid power industry. He started out by pointing out that the U.S. just experienced the worst recession since the 1930s, a fact that we would all agree with now. He asked an important question, 'What caused the housing bubble and bust.' Of course we know that many industries served by fluid power felt the ripple effect from the housing bust.
Robert referred to the drying up of investment in housing because it is not looked upon as an investment. Unfortunately, after our base in the US moved away from making things to making money, banks invested more in high risk mortgages and that did not work out very well. Real investment fell and housing investment boomed. That collapsed. Growth in manufacturing capital stalled.
In order to grow, our economy needs to reinvest in manufacturing. We need to reinvest in manufacturing innovations. That is where the fluid power industry can really shine. We are really good at innovative manufacturing processes. We have been working on that with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, which is an innovations based organization.
I believe that brighter days are ahead for fluid power.