You know those big steel cargo containers that cross the sea on ships, and go inland on railroad flat cars? The started out going in the opposite direction, carrying ordnance and materiel for Americans fighting in Vietnam. The containers had to come back deadhead, so the owners searched for cargoes to bring east across the Pacific.
Meanwhile, the Cold War had created electronic technology that allowed immediate communication between Asia and America. Electronics also allowed automation. It became possible to manufacture tools toys and clothing anywhere in the world for consumption at home.
Labor was cheaper outside the industrially developed world.
Americans were looking for bargains as consumers and return on investment as investors (investment was how we planned on a graceful old age).
Consider this: Consumers insisted on bargains; sellers satisfied this desire by exporting manufacturing; consumers lost buying power, and needed bargains; sellers cut costs further, exporting more manufacturing, and demanding wage concessions; buyers needing more and greater bargains took their business away from smaller retailers, putting them out of business; sellers...