Ghosn On Crusade Against Japanese Yen

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

Ghosn is on a worldwide crusade against the “abnormal” yen. Last week in Kyushu, Ghosn announced a rethinking of Nissan’s production presence in Japan if the yen hasn’t returned to an (unspecified) normalcy six months from now. A week later in New York, Ghosn said:

“We have been talking about this as an industry for a while. Unfortunately, it keeps happening. It looks like whatever effort has been done so far has not delivered results.”

“We have to make investment decisions all the time. This is one of the factors that we have to consider when we look at a project and say are we going to do it in Japan or are we going to do it in another country?”

The yen doesn’t seem to listen. A dollar buys you 76 yen, and 76 yen will buy you next to nothing in Japan. Attempts to bring down the yen have failed.

Investment decisions are made on a long-term basis. It appears as if the decisions have already been made at Nissan, and Ghosn is simply softening the blow that is soon to come.

Already, Nissan and other Japanese manufacturers are growing their capacity abroad with no expansion at home. Percentage-wise, the Japanese capacity shrinks. Nissan had made commitments to keep Japanese production at 1 million units. Toyota had committed to 3 million units. Even that is no longer sacred. Both have made noises that either the yen drops or their Japanese production will. At some point, moving production abroad will also mean that engineering follows. Engineering without attendant production is like surgery without a body.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Pgcooldad Pgcooldad on Sep 28, 2011

    Ok, I'll bite. The Japanese used to manipulate their currency - Carlos wants them to do it again.

    • L'avventura L'avventura on Sep 28, 2011

      Ok, I'll bite too. The hypocrisy here is that much of the currency 'manipulation' that the US accused Japan of is exactly what the US is doing now. Bernanke deliberately tried to coin the US version of quantitative easing, 'credit easing', to distance itself from Japan's policy, but it hasn't stuck for a reason. Because its exactly the same.

  • Eldard Eldard on Oct 06, 2011

    Is he describing the wonders of French cuisine with those gestures? Anyhoo, he better pray China starts floating her currency so the desperate carry trade whores will have somewhere more stable to park their money. And increase the purchasing power of the mighty dragon. To the detriment of the West. ;)

  • Ajla No, with a "classic" I want the entire experience, not just the styling exercise so I'd have zero desire to remove the period engine**. With a normal 3-7 year old used car such a conversion being economical while I'm still above ground seems unlikely. **If the car is already ripped apart then whatever but otherwise I lean heavily to no major alterations.
  • Jalop1991 Whole lotta EV hate here.
  • 28-Cars-Later They were mocked as whales in their time but the last B-bodies really were ideally suited for decades of family use and long distance travel.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Naturally, GM turned to its most tech-forward engineering team to work on the [Cadillac] Northstar: Oldsmobile."The most GM phrase I have seen yet.
  • Carson D The automotive equivalent of necrophilia appeals to people who have no redeeming social value.