BILL COMES DUE: After an extended decline, the state of the automobile industry in Europe, which has been wracked by a broadening recession, became abundantly clear Wednesday. France was forced to throw a lifeline to the continent's No. 2 carmaker, Peugeot Citroen, and Ford announced it would close its massive factory in Belgium, costing 9,500 jobs.
OVERCAPACITY: European automakers have been reluctant to shutter plants, though work stoppages have been ongoing to try to stem oversupply. There was little union activity at the Ford factory to be closed in eastern Belgium. The factory was in the middle of a three-week layoff. Figures from Acea, the European carmakers' association, show that European sales dropped 10.8 percent on a year-by-year basis in September.
WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD: France's $9.1 billion bailout is a last-ditch effort to avoid the sort of layoffs that companies like Ford are slowly accepting as inevitable. It's the first intervention in the industry since a (EURO)6 billion loan package to Peugeot Citroen and Renault in 2008-2009, when the global economy sank into recession. But the European car industry has yet to undergo the dramatic overhaul that U.S. bailouts prompted among its carmakers.