In 1993, Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas described the Liberty ship data as "the best evidence I know of that bears on on-the-job productivity change. . . . What is exceptional about the Liberty ship evidence, I think, is the cleanness of the experiment, not the behavior it documents so beautifully."
Measured by volume, almost 40% of global orders for new ships last year went to shipbuilders in South Korea, according to Lloyd's Register. China won 23% of new orders (up from just under 12% in 2001) and Japan almost 20%. Analysts suspect that China is already making more crude-oil tankers and dry-bulk vessels—the simplest kinds of ship—than South Korea.
Listen to Lucas and Discuss.