Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another ebbing tide

Consider for example the presidential candidates in Michigan yesterday. Most were saying that they cared about Michigan and Romney for instance saying he wouldn't rest until Michigan was fixed.

But seriously. Everything about Michigan just screams fundamental rearrangement. We are not going to get the 60s back:

As goes GM, so goes America (ok that one probably still holds - unfortunately).
Big unions.
Big pensions.
Steel from Gary.
Ore from the iron ranges of Minnesota.
Middle class strong enough to afford all those cars, and support union wages and pensions.
Oh yeah, and oil from texas.

What's changed?
Unions are shaky - and quite possibly part of the problem
American car companies are loaded with debt and entitlements
Gary is toast
The iron ranges are deeply depressed
China does quite a bit of the manufacturing for us here in the US
Perhaps the largest emerging markets in automobobiles are in India and China, where airbags, nav systems, and cupholders (although certainly cool) are not the issue. Affordability is.

So what is the rebalancing that can make Michigan work again?
How do wages come down to be competitive?
How do American autombobiles, and American manufacturers compete against furren'ers?
How do American manufacturers aim for the future that includes climbing energy costs, dealing with those debt and entitlement burdens, and changing markets abroad?

Seriously, these guys are stoned if they think there's anything they can actually do to fix this. Good thing the US govt has money in the bank to help with some of those expensive retraining programs they are talking about.


SASCWA said...

I am less worried about Michigan and more worried about the planet when small car, Tata nano, is taken up in a big way in India (and elsewhere?). Not that those of us in the rich world can complain about people in China and India wanting cars. It is really only Henry Ford's dream writ large. If we really cared about global warming we would have done something more about it by now wouldn't we. At least those of us in Australia elected a more environmentally aware Prime Minister this time around. Your turn next!

By the way - I read your blog too.

mike said...

Hey Jack! Woohooo. Good to hear from you.

I don't really know what to think about global warming, but am pretty certain that all the oil will be burned up sooner or later. So we're going to deal with those conseqences no matter what.

I did hear the rather intriguing suggestion that it would be better for the earth to burn it up in rich nations' environmentally regulated vehicles as opposed to letting the teeming masses burn it up in their millions of little smogmobiles.

In which case - it is your duty to drive as big and obnoxious truck as possible (Of course it took me until 36 to realize that the metzmen had a thing for trucks).

Whatever happens it may well be...interesting to say the least.

Thanks for reading and give my regards to everyone. Wouldn't it be cool if the drug pushers needed some research in Adelaide?