Archive for the ‘autos’ Category

U.S. Industry, Economy: No sympathy for Detroit at a Kia plant in Georgia

November 29, 2008
The residents of this town are learning to enjoy Korean barbecue, and are wary of bailing out American automakers. ‘The foreign cars took the lead, and they deserve it,’ says one.
By Richard Fausset
The Los Angeles Times
Reporting from West Point, Ga. — This attractive old mill town along the Chattahoochee River, with its brick downtown and streets of cozy, unpretentious homes, could be the backdrop for a patriotic American car commercial — lacking only the plaintive croak of a Bob Seger or John Mellencamp.

But America’s Big Three automakers, which are teetering at a financial abyss, shouldn’t expect much sympathy here.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-newdetroit29-2008nov29,0,
3633459.story

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Obama-Pelosi Stimulus May Fail to Reignite Economy

November 17, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may throw as much as half a trillion dollars worth of stimulus at the economy — and have little or no growth to show for it.

The forces arrayed against recovery, including the credit contraction and cutbacks by consumers, are so powerful that they may overwhelm the record sums of spending and tax cuts being discussed in Washington. The only consolation, economists say, is that without the stimulus, things would be even worse.

By Rich Miller, Bloomberg

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference ...
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill.  Democrats in Congress Monday launched a new multi-billion dollar drive to save the US auto industry, but the White House warned against draining funds from a huge finance industry bailout.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Brendan Smialowski)

“It’s hard for me to imagine we’ll have a return to positive growth before the fourth quarter of 2009, even with a $500 billion stimulus,” says Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He sees the unemployment rate rising to 9.5 percent in early 2010, from 6.5 percent now.

The first dose of fiscal medicine might come within weeks, following the return of Congress today for a lame-duck session, and would focus on stepped-up government spending. The balance, including a tax rebate, would come after Obama assumes the presidency in January.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania, says the economy may contract 2 percent next year without a package of at least $300 billion. With it, “we could get growth pretty close to zero,” he adds. That would still be the worst result since 1991.

A `Bolder’ Approach

“The breadth and potential depth” of the crisis call for a “bolder” approach, Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling said in congressional testimony Nov. 13. A package costing $300 billion to $400 billion “should be the starting point….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20081117/pl_bloomberg/aez
5fruymj4q;_ylt=Ak9FS0yn8CqAZ9eabFQuVA2s0NUE

Japan Slides Into Recession; Obama Presidency Seen as No Help

November 17, 2008

Japan’s economy slid into a recession for the first time since 2001, the government said Monday, as companies sharply cut back on spending in the third quarter amid the unfolding global financial crisis.

The world’s second-largest economy contracted at an annual pace of 0.4 percent in the July-September period after a declining an annualized 3.7 percent in the second quarter. That means Japan, along with the 15-nation euro-zone, is now technically in a recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

The result was worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Kyodo News agency had predicted gross domestic product would gain an annualized 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said following the data’s release that “the economy is in a recessionary phase.”

But the worst may be yet to come, especially with dramatic declines in demand from consumers overseas for Japan’s autos and electronics gadgets. Hurt also by a strengthening yen, a growing number of exporters big and small are slashing their profit, sales and spending projections for the full fiscal year through March.

Toyota Motor Corp., for example, has cut net profit full-year profit forecast to 550 billion yen ($5.5 billion) — about a third of last year’s earnings. And Sony Corp., whose July-September profit plunged 72 percent, expects to make 59 percent less this fiscal year than last year.

“What we’re starting to see is the extent of deterioration in external demand start to weigh more heavily on the Japanese economy,” said Glen Maguire, chief Asia economist at Societe Generale. “And I think looking forward, there’s every indication that dynamic is going to continue.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_bi_ge/as_jap
an_economy;_ylt=ApHIyzOiyEFeB_wFtelfrris0NUE

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For Japan, Obama Signals A Shift Closer to China, Away From “Traditional” Asian Allies
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The Japanese do not share the jubilation seen almost everywhere following the election of Barack Obama. 

Economically, Japan sees an Obama White House funding the American Big Three Automakers: GM, Chrysler and Ford.  And that’s bad for Japan’s automakers.

Japan, for one nation, prefers to allow the “system” to work without more government intervention.

On the foreign policy level, Japan fears North Korea’s erratic behavior and nuclear capability.  It also fears China as a tradition enemy of immense wealth, population and size which can easily overwhelm the economy of Japan.

Japan fears the presidency of Barack Obama.  “So far, no good,” one senior diplomat told Peace and Freedom.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapal, Virginia

Related:
Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan

Top Republican senators oppose automaker bailout

November 16, 2008

Top Republican senators said Sunday they will oppose a Democratic plan to bail out Detroit automakers, calling the U.S. industry a “dinosaur” whose “day of reckoning” is coming. Their opposition raises serious doubts about whether the plan will pass in this week’s postelection session.

Democratic leaders want to use $25 billion of the $700 billion financial industry bailout to help General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer

Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona said it would be a mistake to use any of the Wall Street rescue money to prop up the automakers. They said an auto bailout would only postpone the industry’s demise.
Richard Shelby
Senator Shelby

“Companies fail every day and others take their place. I think this is a road we should not go down,” said Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, ... 
General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. Picture taken October 26, 2008.(Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

“They’re not building the right products,” he said. “They’ve got good workers but I don’t believe they’ve got good management. They don’t innovate. They’re a dinosaur in a sense.”

Added Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican: “Just giving them $25 billion doesn’t change anything. It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said over the weekend that the House would provide aid to the ailing industry, though she did not put a price on her plan.

“The House is ready to do it,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “There’s no downside to trying.”
Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd were among the congressional Democrats negotiating the bailout settlement on Sunday. (Joseph Silverman/The Washington Times)

Above: Ready to bail, from L to R: Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. Photo by Joseph Silverman

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_go
_co/auto_bailout;_ylt=AmAt77VLR57r0Uq41kBoeYWs0NUE

Retail sales fall by record amount in October

November 14, 2008

Retail sales plunged by the largest amount on record in October as the financial crisis and the slumping economy caused consumers to sharply cut back on their spending.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell by 2.8 percent last month, surpassing the old mark of a 2.65 percent drop in November 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks that year.

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

The decline in sales was led by a huge drop in auto purchases, but sales of all types of products from furniture to clothing fell as consumers retrenched.

The 2.8 percent drop marked the fourth consecutive monthly decline in retail sales and was much bigger than the 2 percent fall economists expected.

The weakness was led by a 5.5 percent plunge in auto sales, the biggest drop since August 2005. Auto companies reported unit sales fell to the lowest level in 17 years as potential buyers, frightened by all the turmoil on Wall Street, stayed away from auto showrooms.

Excluding autos, retail sales fell by 2.2 percent, also a record decline, underscoring the widespread weakness last month.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of total economic activity and weakness in this area was the major factor dragging down overall economic growth in the July-September quarter. The gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent at an annual rate during the third quarter, the strongest signal yet that the country has fallen into a recession.

Many economists believe the GDP will drop by an even bigger amount in the current October-December period and will continue falling through the first two quarters of next year. They are expecting that the financial crisis, the worst in seven decades, will produce the country’s worst recession since the 1981-1982 downturn.

The government reported last week that the unemployment rate shot up to 6.5 percent in October, and many economists believe it will top 8 percent before the economy starts to mount a sustained rebound.

The retail sales report showed that sales at general merchandise stores, the category that includes big chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and department stores, fell by 0.4 percent, while sales at specialty clothing stores were down a bigger 1.4 percent.

Sales at furniture stores dropped by 2.5 percent, with sales at appliance stores and sport goods stores also showing declines.

One of the few areas to show an increase was the category that includes restaurants and bars which posted a small 0.3 percent gain, perhaps reflecting the desire of some to seek solace during turbulent economic times.

Auto Maker Bailout “Doubtful”

November 14, 2008

A senior Democratic senator raised doubts on Thursday that an attempt to bail out U.S. automakers had enough support to clear Congress this year. 

As Republicans amplified their concerns about a bailout, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd raised the biggest red flag for fellow Democrats trying to craft a $25 billion rescue and pass it during a post-election session set to start next week.
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By John Crawley and Rachelle Younglai, Reuters 

“Right now, I don’t think there are the votes,” Dodd of Connecticut told reporters about prospects in the Senate. “I want to be careful of bringing up a proposition that might fail,” he said.

Although Dodd said “we ought to do something” and personally backed using money from the ongoing $700 billion financial services rescue program to help Detroit, he was skeptical that enough Republicans would support a bailout.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, also cautioned that success of a bailout rests with Senate Republicans and the White House. With their slim majority, Democrats cannot force a measure through the Senate or trump a White House veto.

The White House opposes the approach being taken by congressional Democrats but has not threatened to block any bailout. Bush administration officials have said they would consider other steps Congress can take to help General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC.

Dodd said there have been “legitimate issues raised” about how to help.

Read the rest:
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN1339
368420081114?rpc=44

Some Say Let GM Fail; Others Want Bailout

November 13, 2008

Momentum is building in Washington for a rescue package for the auto industry to head off a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors, which is rapidly running low on cash.

By Micheline Maynard
The New york Times

But not everyone agrees that a Chapter 11 filing by G.M. would be the disaster that many fear. Some experts note that while bankruptcy would be painful, it may be preferable to a government bailout that may only delay, at considerable cost, the wrenching but necessary steps G.M. needs to take to become a stronger, leaner company.

GM logo

Although G.M.’s labor contracts would be at risk of termination in a bankruptcy, setting up a potential confrontation with its unions, the company says its pension obligations are largely financed for its 479,000 retirees and their spouses.

Shareholders have already lost much of the equity that would disappear in a bankruptcy case. Shares of G.M. rose 16 cents Wednesday, to $3.08, but they have fallen 90.5 percent over the last 12 months, amid sharply lower auto sales and fears about G.M.’s future.

And as companies in industries like airlines, steel and retailing have shown, bankruptcy can offer a fresh start with a more competitive cost structure to preserve a future for the workers who remain.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/business/economy/
13bankruptcy.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=122
6563419-OfENoXGxQchEfFahO5kKpg

Global Economy: Weak Japanese Yen May Boost Car Sales from Thailand?

November 9, 2008

Thailand’s car exports have room to grow next year by replacing shipments from Japan as it battles yen appreciation, according to Fukujiro Yamabe, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC) in Bangkok. Mr Yamabe, who is also the president of Mitsubishi Co (Thailand), said automobile exports are expected grow slowly in 2009 after strong progress the past decade, as purchasing power drops in all overseas destinations.

A logo of Mitsubishi Motors Corp is displayed at its headquarters ... 
Logo of Mitsubishi Motors Corp is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo.REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao(JAPAN)

By Nareerat Wiriyapong
Bangkok Post

”Thailand, however, has some advantages in terms of production costs compared to other countries, especially Japan. Car exports will have consecutive growth for sure next year but not as big as in 2008 as export markets slow down,” he said. ”[However] the Thai exchange rate is competitive when compared to Japanese yen, so there is a good chance that Thai exports could replace those shipped from Japan.”

Domestic vehicle sales should grow at a slower pace next year. Despite the weakening economy, vehicle demand in Thailand is healthy compared to other countries, he said.

Japanese companies are also suffering from the credit crunch and have to reduce their investments. Toyota cut its net profit forecast by 24% from estimates three months ago to $6 billion.

Almost every company is reviewing its investments, he said.

Mr Yamabe said Mitsubishi Motor was also considering reviewing its investment plan in the eco-car project in Thailand. ”But I don’t think the project will change.”

Mr Yamabe forecast total car production in Thailand would fall 18% to 1.2 million units next year on pressure from the global financial crisis decreasing domestic and overseas demand.

Read the rest:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/101108_
Business/10Nov2008_biz49.php

GM reports $2.5B 3Q loss, says it’s running out of money, suspends Chrysler takeover talks

November 7, 2008

General Motors Corp. said Friday it lost $2.5 billion in the third quarter and warned that it could run out of cash in 2009 if the U.S. economic slump continues and it doesn’t get government aid.
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By TOM KRISHER and JEFF KAROUB, AP Business Writers
From The Associated Press

GM also said it has suspended talks to acquire Chrysler. While it didn’t specifically name the automaker, GM said it was setting aside considerations for a “strategic acquisition.”

“While the acquisition could potentially have provided significant benefits, the company has concluded that it is more important at the present time to focus on its immediate liquidity challenges and, accordingly, considerations of such a transaction as a near-term priority have been set aside,” the company’s said in a statement.

The automaker said its cash burn for the quarter accelerated to $6.9 billion, and government aid will be “essential” because of the slow economy and credit crisis.

The GM logo hangs over an unsold 2009 Acadia sports-utility ... 

Above: The GM logo hangs over an unsold 2009 Acadia sports-utility vehicle on the lot at a GMC Truck dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo., on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. General Motors Corp. on Friday, Nov. 7, 2008 said it lost $2.5 billion in the third quarter and warned that it could run out of cash in 2009. GM also said it has suspended talks to acquire Chrysler, and said its cash burn for the quarter accelerated to $6.9 billion due to a severe U.S. auto sales slump.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081107/ap_on_bi_ge/earns_gm;_ylt=
AsQnG1GHOpiokSxdWMm4QZys0NUE

Euphoria of Obama’s Election Victory Fades Fast: Markets Down 10%; Toyota Says Auto Crisis “Unprecedented”

November 6, 2008

Toyota Motor slashed its profit forecast Thursday, warning the global auto industry faces an “unprecedented” crisis as Asian stocks tumbled on fears the US is sinking deeper towards recession.

The Japanese giant became the latest automaker to reveal plunging profits due to the financial crisis, following on the heels of BMW, Nissan and Honda.

From Breitbart

The headquarters of German luxury carmaker BMW are pictured ... 

Toyota , vying with General Motors for the title of the world’s top automaker, cut its annual profit forecast by more than half after a terrible year so far.

It now expects a 68 percent plunge in net profit to 550 billion yen (5.6 billion dollars) — the first drop in nine years.

“The financial crisis is negatively impacting the real economy worldwide, and the automotive markets, especially in developed countries, are contracting rapidly,” Toyota executive vice president Mitsuo Kinoshita said.

“This is an unprecedented situation.”

Elsewhere in the transport sector, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus warned it expects a sharp reduction in new orders in 2009 as the global economy slows.

Airbus A380.jpg

Amid the gloomy news, Asian stock markets fell heavily. Japan’s Nikkei stock index plunged 6.53 percent even before the Toyota warning, which came after the close of trade.

The drop wiped out gains seen a day earlier on hopes that US president-elect Barack Obama will get to work on fixing the world’s largest economy in the face of the worst financial crisis in decades.

“Now that the event is over, investors are sobering up and looking at the economic gloom,” said Mizuho Investors Securities broker Masatoshi Sato.

Seoul ended with a loss of 7.6 percent while Sydney shed 4.3 percent. Hong Kong shares were down 6.4 percent at midday.

The sharp falls came after the Dow Jones index slid 5.05 percent on Wall Street on Wednesday as investors braced for a gloomy economic ride after the euphoria of Obama’s election victory faded.

Read the rest:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=081106082217.v53hc2v7&show_article=1