The health of American manufacturing has been a cause of real concern during the 1980s. Foreign competition, hostile takeovers, new technologies and a host of other factors have caused dramatic changes in this key sector of the American economy. Many ob servers of this process of change are singing the "rust belt blues," consigning U.S. manufacturing greatness to the history books. In April 1986, the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University issued a study by its director, Dr. Murray L. Weidenbaum, which challenged this perception of American manu facturing's future. The report, entitled Learning to Compete, pointed to a variety of positive developments resulting from the ad versity faced by American firms in the first half of the decade: pro ducers had improved quality and productivity, reduced costs, and in creased emphasis on R&D. In November 1988, as a logical extension of this research, the Center held a conference on American Manufacturing in the 1990s. Focusing on American responses to the changing global competitive environment, this conference brought together the practical experi ence of business professionals and the more detached views of aca demic and media experts. In a day and a half of meetings, encompassing six separate ses sions, a luncheon address and an after-dinner debate, conference participants assembled an extensive profile on the state of U.S.