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For all the hand wringing you see from people wondering if GM and Chrysler can get the UAW to re-work wages and benefits or for debt holders to agree on a debt for equity swap, the real trick will be closing dealerships.
Happy New Year! Yes, I was bummed to see my Blackhawks get blown out by the Wings at Wrigley. But as I watched a hockey game played outside (very cool!), I read through your predictions for next year in the auto industry. Karnac has nothing on you guys.
With the auto companies on their holiday breaks, this is always a week when I think about the year ahead for the auto industry. In past years, some of the predictions I've made to myself have come true, while many more were so off the mark it was kind of funny. So: What will happen in '09?
When I called folks I know in the various auto companies to wish them a Merry Christmas, I heard the same thing over and over. I'm thankful to still be working and I'm wondering how much worse things will get next year.
I'm not a car expert. I'm a driving expert. I drive 25,000 miles a year, and I've driven everything. I know what works and what doesn't, and I avoid buying American. Get mad at me all you want, but I speak from experience, and millions of other drivers in the Car Capital of America (California) agree with me.
Friday's bailout may have saved GM (and by association, Ford) but investors are trading these stocks as if they are headed for bankruptcy. That's because when it's all said and done, GM will have to re-structure itself as if it were in bankruptcy.
Most of you are waking up this morning, hearing that Toyota has just forecast it's first annual loss in decades, and may be saying, "Wow, even Toyota is hurting." This news shouldn't come as a surprise.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, the Chrysler stand was a dimly lit and uninspiring display. A glaringly obvious example Cerberus is not spending anything more than the bare minimum to keep Chrysler alive.
The bad news is that while refis are up 250 percent in the past 6 weeks, applications to purchase a home are up only 10 percent. Let's see if news of below-5 percent mortgages makes a difference.
Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb became the latest big company to announce layoffs, saying it will eliminate another 10 percent of its work force through 2010.
With the film strip of our lives playing out as we buy, sell, curse, and embrace our cars, it's no wonder we are passionate about what we want to see happen to the Big 3. But here's the problem: few of us seem willing to accept the other side is saying stuff that may have some merits.
As Detroit waits to see how much financial help it will get from the White House and how that aid will be structured, we keep hearing one thing over and over. The Bush administration wants to avoid a "disorderly bankruptcy" in the auto industry. This is not good news for GM and Chrysler.
This week brought a slew of layoffs, including Dow component Bank of America, which said its planned job cuts may grow to 35,000 over three years after it completes its purchase of Merrill Lynch.
"Karnac the Magnificent" I am not. Heck, for weeks I've been predicting Congress would ultimately come up with a bailout for the Big 3. So after the Senate shot down the aid package last night, it's no wonder my wife said to me, "Gee Einstein, guess you were wrong about what would happen on Capitol Hill."
You have to give it to the Senate Republicans. Senators Shelby, Corker, Ensign and their colleagues in the GOP have been loud and effective in slowing down, if not jeopardizing the $14 Billion auto bailout package.
If Washington approves this $15 Billion bailout by the end of today or tomorrow (and yes, I think that will happen) the question will turn to who becomes the "Car Czar." It will be a presidential appointment and it will be crucial to determining if this auto bailout actually works.
Sony became one of the latest companies to announce layoffs in attempt to rein in costs and weather the weak economy.
Further layoffs on Monday from big market names, including a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average an American business icon, added to employment gloom.
The drum beats calling for Rick Wagoner's head, or at least his job, are becoming louder. What started last week with critics and commentators saying any bailout should include new leadership at the Big 3, now has spread to political leaders saying it may be time for some of the auto leadership to change.
The announcement by UAW President Ron Gettlefinger that his union may make material changes to its contract to help the Big 3 is a big deal.