The following facts characterize the furniture industry in the United States:
39 James R. Hagerty and Robert Berner, âEver Wondered Why Furniture Shopping Can Be Such a Pain?â Wall Street Journal, November 2, 1998; Dan Morse, âU.S. Furniture Makers Seek Tariffs on Chinese Imports,â Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2003; and Mark H. Drayse, âGlobalization and Regional Change in the U.S. Furniture Industry,â Growth and Change 39 (June 2008): 252â82.
The industry has been very fragmented, so that few companies have the financial backing to make heavy investments in new technology and equipment.
In 1998, only three U.S. furniture manufacturers had annual sales exceeding $1 billion. These firms accounted for only 20 percent of the market share, with the remainder split among 1,000 other manufacturers.
Capital spending at one manufacturer, Furniture Brands, was only 2.2 percent of sales compared with 6.6 percent at Ford Motor Company. Outdated, labor-intensive production techniques were still being used by many firms.
Furniture manufacturing involves a huge number of options to satisfy consumer preferences, but this extensive set of choices slows production and raises costs.
Small competitors can enter the industry because large manufacturers have not built up any overwhelming advantage in efficiency.
The American Furniture Manufacturers Association has prepared a public relations campaign to âencourage consumers to part with more of their disposable income on furniture.âIn fall 2003, a group of 28 U.S. furniture manufacturers asked the U.S. government to impose antidumping trade duties on Chinese-made bedroom furniture, alleging unfair pricing.The globalization of the furniture industry since the 1980s has resulted from technological innovations, governmental implementation of economic development strategies and regulatory regimes that favor global investment and trade, and the emergence of furniture manufacturers and retailers with a capacity to develop global production and distribution networks. The development of global production networks using Chinese subcontractors has accelerated globalization in recent years.
Discuss how these facts are consistent with the model of perfect competition.
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