Of course, Carlos Ghosn did not miss this opportunity to talk about his most favorite topic: The value of the yen. As last Friday, the CEO of Renault and Nissan still does not want to hear talk of a low yen. Ghosn says the Japanese currency “is coming back to normal levels,” and as far as Ghosn is concerned, the yen still has some ways to go. Even if this freaks-out the CEO of Ford.
For Ghosn, a normal level would be when a dollar buys 110 yen or more. Today, a dollar bought 102 yen, a four year low of the yen.
In the interest of equal time, let’s listen to what Ford’s chief Alan Mulally had to say about the yen two months ago. In March, when the yen traded at around 93 yen to the dollar, Mulally complained about what he called Japan’s “devaluing of the yen”. and he reiterated his opposition a trade free pact with Japan.
“The markets should determine the exchange rate,” Mulally told Reuters. Japan is “the most closed automobile market in the world,” Mulally said for the umpteenth time. “They should open up their market, they should restructure their industry, and that’s why we’re encouraging the people negotiating the free trade agreements that they deal with that.”
The story of other countries devaluing their currency is an easy sell to an American public that generally lacks sophistication when it comes to currencies. Ford and its lobbyists complained about Japanese currency manipulation when the yen climbed to untenable levels, nearly killing Japanese exports. Ford keeps complaining.
For Ghosn, who was offered the job as Ford CEO, and who turned it down, because he did not want Executive Chairman Bill Ford breathe down his neck, said today that “the abnormal situation of the yen is hopefully something from the past, which means we can continue to build this car at the motherplant.” If the yen would have remained at last year’s levels, Nissan would have had to close shop. “During the dark years of the yen,” Ghosn said, “we were losing money on practically every single car which we were exporting from Tochigi.”