'NYT' Scribe Pillories Detroit
Reporter David Leonhardt at your liberal elitist rag theNew York Times has a little thingy today about how nobody wants to buy American cars these days, and this is why Detroit finds itself in such an awkward no-cash-havin' situation. While it is true that nobody wants to buy American cars, it is also true that nobody wants to buy any cars, Japanese, Korean, German, whatever, and your editor, after doing a fair amount of crapping on Detroit lately, has begun to see the error of her ways.
Here is what Leonhardt has to say:
[T]he main problem facing Detroit, overwhelmingly, is not the pay gap. That’s unfortunate because fixing the pay gap would be fairly straightforward. The real problem is that many people don’t want to buy the cars that Detroit makes. Fixing this problem won’t be nearly so easy. The success of any bailout is probably going to come down to Washington’s willingness to acknowledge as much.
And yet! Lookee at auto sales for November. Terrible across the board:
General Motors' November US sales plunged 41%, while Ford's dropped 31% ... Toyota's November sales tumbled 34%, and Honda's fell 32%.
So it is not exactly accurate to suggest that suddenly, in the fourth quarter of 2008, America woke to the extreme crappiness of its domestically made cars and made a principled stand to stop buying them. Instead one might suggest that Detroit's sudden cash problem has to do with credit markets drying up, so people can't get car loans, and then those few who can get car loans being too busy about OH LOSING THEIR JOBS & HOUSES ETC. to take on extra debt.
Sure, American automakers were extra screwed by a sudden drop in demand, due to their comparatively high overhead and terrible management and so on. But if trends continue, do not be surprised if Toyota and Honda need a bailout soon, too -- they'll just be asking the government of Japan for it. In the meantime, smart investors are putting big bets on bicycles: they're the zero-emissions stuff-movin' device that's been popular ever since Jesus!
Special thanks to Wonkette Operative Dan for bringing this subtle concept to our attention.
$73 an Hour: Adding It Up [New York Times]