Producers and Consumers
 

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Producers and Consumers
(Product Safety, Pollution etc.)

Americans business was not immune from the effects of the social reforms of the 1960s. Affirmative action policies initiated in the 1960s helped expand female and minority participation in the business world. In addition, various government programs offered low-interest loan and guaranteed private commercial loans against default. This provided opportunities for women and minorities previously excluded from access to capital, facilitating increased entrepreneurship among women, African-Americans, and other traditionally disadvantaged groups.

Another movement that influenced American industry was the Consumer Movement. The movement was largely sparked by the 1965 publication of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile, a critique of the auto industry. Unsafe at Any Speed contained charges against General Motors, and Nader followed up on his accusations by testifying before a Senate committee. General Motors hired people to follow Nader and sabotage his career, for which Nader sued GM and received $280,000. In 1966, Congress passed a car safety law, largely due to Nader's efforts. He used the royalties from his book and other funds for research, extending his studies to the meat-packing industry, unsafe trucks, polluting paper mills, dishonest banks, and cheating supermarkets.

The Environmental Movement also affected American firms. Rachel Carson's concern about environmental pollution was eloquently expressed in Silent Spring, published in 1962, Silent Spring was largely responsible for the founding of the environmental movement and the introduction of environmental legislation. President Kennedy read her work and, despite attacks from the chemical industry, instructed his Science Advisory Committee to investigate. The panel confirmed her results in 1963, after which Congress passed legislation to protect the environment, much of which was championed by Senator Edmund Muskie. In addition to the chemical industry, the oil industry was the object of many attacks due to business policies harmful to the environment. One of the most dramatic incidents was the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. During January and February of that year, a great deal of oil leaked from Union Oil Company's off-shore drilling installations near Santa Barbara, California. The result was property damage, water pollution, and destruction of fish and other wildlife in the area. After the oil spill, the federal government passed strict laws regulating oil exploration.

In the last years of the decade, American firms performed poorly with respect to productivity. While output per worker in non-agricultural business increased at an average annual rate of 3.4% from 1960 to 1968, it only grew at about 1.7% annually from 1968 to 1973. Agriculture fared better than manufacturing and service sectors, except in 1968. U.S. output per hour grew at an increasing rate until the mid-1960s, peaked in 1964, then declined through late 1960s. American firms lost ground in innovation. Research and development expenditures fell from about 2.1% of GNP in 1964 to about 1.8% of GNP in 1970. While the United States had been the first to market 82% of all major innovations, by late 1960s, the figure was only 55%.

Large firms maintained a significant market share throughout the 1960s. The term "conglomerate" came into general use around 1964, although business mergers had been on the rise since the 1950s. While the largest 100 firms held relatively constant market share in the early 1960s, they expanded their control between 1965 and 1968. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled 7 to 0 against Procter & Gamble in an antitrust suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission. The suit, originally filed in 1957, was introduced when Procter and Gamble Co., the leading American soap manufacturer and advertiser, purchased the Clorox Chemical Co., the largest American producer of liquid bleach. At the very end of the decade and into the early 1970s, small and mid-sized firms began to decentralize the American market, although the economy remained a concentrated one.
Market Share Share of 100 biggest % change Share of 200 biggest % change
YEAR corporations corporations

1950 38.4 — 46.1 —
1955 43.0 11.98 51.6 11.93
1960 45.5 5.81 55.2 6.98
1965 45.9 .88 55.9 1.27
1968 48.8 6.31 60.4 8.05
1974 44.4 -9.01 56.7 -6.13


Annual Rates of Productivity Increases
Year Total Agr. Mining Constr. Manuf. Transp. & Trade Svcs. Govt.
Non-farm Publ. (Wholesale, (Fin. &
Utilities Retail) other)


1961 2.6 4.7 4.7 1.6 2.2 4.3 2.8 2.3 0.3
1962 4.3 4.1 5.3 0.9 4.2 4.6 5.7 3.2 2.0
1963 3.5 2.3 5.8 0.2 7.0 5.4 3.6 -0.8 -0.7
1964 3.6 5.4 2.7 4.9 5.2 3.4 7.5 1.2 0.8
1965 3.3 6.1 1.8 1.6 3.6 5.5 3.7 2.5 1.1
1966 2.6 3.9 4.8 1.2 1.3 4.5 3.7 0.6 -0.9
1967 1.6 8.6 4.6 1.2 0.3 1.7 2.2 0.9 0.9
1968 3.2 -0.2 4.1 3.0 4.4 5.4 4.5 1.7 0.4
1969 -0.3 5.6 0.6 -7.8 1.3 -0.5 0.8 0.8 0.8
1970 0.1 7.7 2.2 -4.2 0.8 1.9 1.1 2.3 1.0
AVG 2.45 4.82 3.66 0.26 3.03 3.62 3.56 1.47 0.57



U.S. Output per hour
YEAR Index of output per hour (1967=100) % change
1960 78.8
1962 80.7 02.4
1963 84.5 04.7
1964 90.4 07.0
1965 95.2 05.3
1966 98.2 03.2
1967 99.7 01.5
1968 100.0 00.3
1969 103.6 03.6
1970 104.9 01.3
1960-65 24.6
1965-70 06.4


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