If anyone again mentions that the Japanese manipulate their currency to get an unfair advantage in international markets, then I will strangle him. Or make him pay my Tokyo restaurant, taxi, and even subway bills in converted dollars. Strangling would be the more humane punishment.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has an even more painful option in store: He’ll leave the island. “If the Japanese government wants to really safeguard and develop employment, then something has to be done,” Ghosn told Reuters editors Paul Ingrassia and Kevin Krolicki in an interview in New York. (Read More…)
Around the time of the founding of the United States, the Mexican state of Guanajuato became home to of the one of the biggest silver mines in the world, which produced as much as 2/3rds of the world’s supply of silver at its peak. Today it’s not precious metal that’s driving Guanajuato’s booming economy, but cars, as the world’s automakers flock to Central Mexico. Between 2005 and 2008, GM, Ford and Michelin dumped $1.8b into production in the state, and the expansion is still picking up steam. In the last year, Volkswagen invested $800m in engine production capacity in Silao, Pirelli built a $210m facility and Mazda just revealed it would build a new compact car plant there in June. Toyota is said to be the next to set up shop in Guanajuato, but for the moment Honda is the latest automaker to announce new operations in Guanajuato, as Automotive News [sub] reports the Japanese automaker will spend $800m on an assembly plant there. Honda, which is fleeing a strong yen which has battered Japanese exports, will start building 200k subcompacts per year in 2014. Clearly Guanajuato’s got it’s automotive mojo flowing… but are the days of new Japanese transplant factories in the US over? Is it only a matter of time before the coyotes start smuggling Detroiters into Silao, Celaya, and the Puerto Interior??
In an (especially for Japanese tastes) strongly worded joint statement, Toshiyuki Shiga. Chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Koichiro Nishihara, President of the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions threw down the gauntlet to the Japanese government. Executive summary: “We are sick as hell of the high yen and we can’t take it anymore. Do something, or kiss those jobs sayonara.” (Read More…)
Unless you plan a trip to Toyko, you probably aren’t concerned about the exchange rate of the yen. Is a Japanese car on the list of your possible purchases? Then you should be concerned. Those prices will go up. (Read More…)
Honda is finally doing something against the ever stronger yen: They are selling more cars to make up the difference. Honda’s CFO Yoichi Hojo told The Nikkei [sub] today that his company can make profits, even with the yen at its current near-record high against the dollar, if it can increase its global sales by 200,000 vehicles per year. The figure is already in their current budget. In the current fiscal, which ends March 31,2011, the want to sell 3.615m vehicles worldwide, modestly up from 3.392m a year earlier. They’ll probably do better. (Read More…)
As the Japanese Yen reaches new highs against the US Dollar, so does the anxiety in Japanese boardrooms. How does an export-heavy country like Japan cope with an ever appreciating currency? That’s the topic of conversation at Nissan HQ. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nissan’s COO, Toshiyuki Shiga, is concerned. Extremely concerned.
Did we mention that there is a steady drumbeat by Japanese companies that openly think about, or deny (with huge qualifications) moving more and more production outside of Japan? Did we imply that a lot of this noisy thinking might be targeted at the current Japanese administration with which the carmakers are as much at odds as a carmaker can be with an administration that comes with full union backing and is full of former union officials? (Oops, never mind.) Anyway, Japanese carmakers are accusing their government of losing the war of the soft currency (led by the U.S. that lets its dollar slide while accusing others of manipulating their currencies – a good offense beats any defense.) Now the rhetoric is getting less circumspect. (Read More…)
For a while, TTAC has been tracking a strange story: Instead of exporting cars, Japanese carmakers (or should we call them factorymakers?) increasingly resort to exporting car factories. The higher and higher yen makes exports prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, a higher and higher yen buys more and more production capacity abroad. From Nissan to Mitsubishi, there is a chorus that sings the song that suddenly, people in low wage countries can make high quality cars. Now nobody would assume that Japanese carmakers plan a wholesale desertion of the land of Nippon, right? Wrong.
You know who is really freaked about the stronger and stronger Japanese yen? Mazda. Mazda is considered the Japanese manufacturer with the highest exposure to currency swings. Mazda builds 70 percent of its vehicles in Japan. In the first half of 2010, Mazda exported nearly 80 percent of its Japanese output. Ouch. A year ago, a dollar bought 110 yen. Today, it buys only 84. As the yen continues its march upwards against other currencies, Mazda is enacting emergency cost reduction measures to protect their profits from being gobbled up by a steadily advancing yen on its earnings. Here is the plan: (Read More…)
Sometimes, strength is a weakness. Especially in currencies. The still surging Yen makes Japanese Exports expensive and unprofitable. Despite a lot of talk from their elected officials that the Yen is too high, manufacturers are thinking it will go higher. This could significantly alter the export-heavy Japanese industrial landscape. Case in point. Suzuki and a plot of land. (Read More…)
There was a time, in summer of 2007, when a dollar bought more than 120 yen. Once you arrived in Tokyo, you quickly wished it would have bought more. Now, the dollar buys about a third less. The dollar/yen rate had been at a downward trajectory since that summer of 2007. What made the yen really expensive was a company called Lehman Brothers, and the fallout following their bankruptcy in 2008. For inexplicable reasons, the yen is seen as a safer currency than the greenback. Should you make the mistake of stepping off the plane with Euros in your pocket, you would be in for an even bigger shock. In July 2008, a Euro bought 170 yen. Now, it’s down to 109. For even more inexplicable reasons, some mentally unstable people still talk about an undervalued yen.
You may not travel to Tokyo frequently enough to give a hoot. But Japanese auto manufacturers don’t want to take it any more. (Read More…)
Still convinced that the Yen is undervalued? Japanese carmakers beg to differ. They think the Japanese currency became so expensive that it gets cheaper for them to build abroad and to import to Japan. We’ve reported that Nissan is moving the production of their Micra (called March in Asia) to Thailand. When they did this, The Nikkei [sub] saw “huge implications for the future of the Japanese auto industry as a whole.” It certainly looks like Nissan’s exodus to the Land Of Smiles (and occasional riots) started a trend. (Read More…)
If anybody will again blather about a “weak yen” that has been “manipulated by the Japanese government,” then I’ll personally come visit, with the intent to insert a sock in the mouth. For reasons explicable only to forex mavens, the currency of the economic basked case Japan keeps on getting stronger. Japan’s car manufacturers think this will continue, and they are taking precautions. More precisely, they are taking production out of Japan. (Read More…)