(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
A global economic meltdown has sent auto sales tumbling 32 percent in October alone, which could shake the entire auto industry to its core.
Everyone knows General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are in deep, deep trouble. Cratering sales, credit downgrades and cash reserves that are dwindling faster than a keg at a frat party have some analysts saying we may see one or two of the Big Three go down for good. Critics like to say Detroit’s getting what it deserves because the Japanese build better cars, but guess what — Toyota isn’t looking so great these days, either.
Toyota’s stock nosedived 17 percent last week — its greatest decline in 18 years — after the company announced it will see an operating profit of just $6.9 billion, a 73.6 percent decline over last year. That’s far worse than expected, and it underscores not only the dismal state of the domestic auto market but some strategic mistakes Toyota made on its way to becoming the biggest automaker in the world. Wired
*G.M. has well over $200 billion of debt. Most of this is on the books of its financing arm and is matched by money that buyers of G.M. cars owe the company. But as any banker knows, not all of that money will be paid back.
* G.M. also has huge pension liabilities while Toyota has much smaller pension obligations because it hasn’t been around long enough in the United States to generate a large population of retirees, who consume medical services in greater quantity than younger, healthier workers. Toyota’s U.S. manufacturing operations have fewer than 100 retirees. GM, by contrast, has 422,000 retirees and surviving spouses, compared with 170,000 active employees.
* Toyota’s medical plans in the United States cover 15,000 manufacturing workers and their dependents. GM’s medical plans in the United States cover 1.1 million workers, retirees and dependents at a cost of $5.2 billion last year.
Last week GM predicted that costs would rise to $5.6 billion this year, almost an 8 percent increase. GM said that amount added about $1,400 to the cost of each vehicle sold in the United States.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost GM $3,000 more to produce a car than Toyota, and it’s probably almost all health care and pension costs,” said David Healy, an analyst at Burnham Securities.
Auto executives in Detroit are not crying wolf over the dangers of rising health care costs. GM, Ford and Chrysler are not posting nearly the profits they need even amid healthy sales, in order to renew their models and retool factories.
The North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) was signed in December 1993 but did not come into effect until January 1, 1994. As of 2007 the trade bloc was the largest in the world and one of the most powerful, wide-reaching treaties in the world.
From 1994 to 2007, net manufacturing employment has declined by 3,654,000, and during this period several other free trade agreements have been concluded or expanded.