American business prides itself on efficiency, fair-mindedness, self-reliance, and independence from government. These two books, on imports and foreign investment, expose a massive discrepancy between rhetoric and reality. Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, generalizes from four case studies -- of supercomputers, flat-panel displays, semiconductors, and steel -- to show that U.S. antidumping regulation in the high-tech sector both fails to protect the complaining industry and does considerable damage to the rest of the economy. Furthermore, although allegedly targeting "unfair" foreign competition, "under antidumping rules, many actions that are clearly legal under U.S. domestic law are deemed 'unfair' competition when taken by foreign corporations." The author makes a strong and persuasive case for serious reform, if not abolition, of antidumping regulations, both in the United States and elsewhere (since other countries are increasingly emulating U.S. practice).
Crystal, a political scientist, also relies on case studies -- including of consumer electronics, steel, autos, semiconductors, airlines, and telecommunications -- for his generalizations. He explores how these U.S. industries have responded to the challenges of foreign competition, especially inward foreign direct investment. Crystal is more interested in classification and analysis of corporate demands for government action than he is in policy reform, but his study also demonstrates the readiness of some U.S. businesses to look to the government for relief when they are under pressure.