Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fair Game? Auto Angst, continued

At the risk of stoking unwanted protectionist flames, I'll just note for those who are intent to push all or most of the blame the way of the auto unions:

  • Item: After tough trade negotiations under Clinton in the 1990s, Japan's auto imports have leveled out for a long time at circa 280,000 units (also here), even against a domestic industry that ought to have been weakened by sluggish economic growth - normally, you'd expect to see domestic share decline in such an environment. (see also, imports shown by car model)
  • Item: Despite growth in manufacturing in the U.S., Japanese production capacity in Japan for export may have grown faster. (The "yen hawks" certainly think so, at least - appear to be backed up by growth rate differential, shown here).
  • Item: The penetration of the Japanese domestic market for foreign suppliers doesn't seem to respond to changes in any financial variables, standing at less than 10%, given a total production of circa 3.2 million cars (peak domestic production has been much higher).
  • Item: the UAW has had troubles organizing the foreign auto manufacturers, for a number of reasons, including that the benefits paid and the employment "guarantees" offered are pretty good.

Rob Reich has a somewhat unexpected take on Chapter 11.

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