The steel landscape is dying.
The world has forgotten how to build anything and how to live with the consequences of its failure.
The problem is, when the steel is gone, the rest of the world gets a different idea of what to do.
“What we see in this area is a failure to communicate what the problem is and how it can be fixed,” said David Schoenfeld, who has studied the steel industry for more than 20 years.
“We’ve got to find a new way of thinking about what the steel needs to be in the future.”
The problem isn’t just a failure of a single steel company to take the next step and produce a better product.
It’s a failure that affects millions of others.
A lot of the steel companies are still trying to figure out how to get a foothold in the global economy, where the supply chain is fragmented and complex.
The big steel companies don’t want to make the same mistake again, said Robert Wysocki, a professor of economics at the University of Virginia who studies global markets.
“They’re trying to find some way to build up the supply, to be able to offer products that they think are more secure and more competitive,” Wysicki said.
“The fact that steel is being lost is really an indictment on the way we have built our industry.”
The most obvious cause of the industry’s decline is the global financial crisis.
The U.S. steel industry is not the only one struggling.
The steel industry in China has shrunk by more than 50 percent since 2007.
The industry’s share of the global market dropped from 40 percent in 2007 to 26 percent in 2013, according to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute.
“There is a real risk that the global steel industry could go the way of other industries,” said Wysacki.
“It could fall apart, like car manufacturing.
Or it could fall into a deep recession.
And the consequences for consumers could be catastrophic.”
In the past decade, steel prices have fallen sharply.
That helped drive up prices for consumers.
Now, the steel sector is showing signs of life.
But the price of steel is far from the only factor holding down the price.
China’s steel industry also needs to diversify its supply chain.
The government has been subsidizing the construction of steel-making plants and other projects in the United States.
But most of those plants are concentrated in one region, such as the Midwest, and the cost of getting steel to those areas is high.
“I think we have to diversified our supply chain,” said Schoenfelter.
“One of the ways we can do that is by looking at places like the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, where there are some other places that we have some control over the supply chains.”
If the world’s steel companies could figure out a way to produce products at less than the global price, the global marketplace could find itself more competitive.
The United States, meanwhile, needs to rethink its manufacturing model.
Manufacturing steel is an incredibly complex and expensive process.
It takes billions of dollars of equipment to produce steel, and many factories need to be built in China, the United Kingdom, and other places.
That is why the United State has been a leader in promoting global trade agreements, which would allow the United Nations to set global trade rules.
The international community would also be able more easily make decisions that benefit the steel and other industries in the world.
The World Trade Organization, a multilateral body that handles trade, has been an important part of that effort.
Its rules have allowed the United Sates to negotiate agreements with other countries, including the European Union.
That has helped reduce the costs of the process.
But there is a lot more work to be done, and more work that needs to happen, said Schonfeld.
“If we are to move forward with this global economy and to develop a more integrated global economy,” he said, “we’ve got the capacity and the incentive to do that.
But we have not yet done that.”
For decades, the world was a giant, complex machine.
Now it’s a small, interconnected group of tiny, connected machines.
What if a few of those small, connected pieces broke apart?
What if something went wrong with one of those pieces and everyone in the rest fell apart?
If we can find a way for the small, scattered pieces to work together, it could be a major step toward creating a more connected, more sustainable world.