Where Is Currency Manipulation When We Need It: Ford Shuts Down Down Under

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Ford has long been at the forefront of the currency debate, claiming currency manipulation when the yen went to levels that nearly killed the Japanese auto industry, and shouting “currency manipulation” now that the yen is back to normal levels. Now, Ford itself experiences the devastating effects of changing exchange rates: Ford is shutting down all its manufacturing operations in Australia. The reason: A strong Australian dollar. Says Reuters:

“Ford Motor Co will shut its two Australian auto plants in October 2016, blaming a strong currency and costs that are hitting manufacturers just as the country looks for other sectors of its economy to cushion the end of a mining boom.”

According to the report, the closure of Ford’s engine plant in Geelong and its vehicle assembly plant in Broadmeadows will cost 1,200 jobs. Ford built 37,000 vehicles in Australia last year, and has been in the country since 1925.

“Our costs are double that of Europe and nearly four times Ford in Asia,” Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano told Reuters. “The business case simply did not stack up. Manufacturing is not viable for Ford in Australia.”

The Aussie has climbed from just over 60 cents in 2009 to above parity with the U.S. dollar, where it has been for more than two years. Currently, one AUD costs 97 cents.

A few weeks ago, Jac Nasser, the former head of Ford, warned that Australia’s car industry has passed the point of no return, and said it would die within the next few years.

I am sure that in this case, Ford would have been grateful for a little currency manipulation – or shall we call in central bank intervention – and would not have complained. GM’s Holden said it will cut 500 jobs, citing damage from the high Australian dollar.

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="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • BrianL BrianL on May 23, 2013

    The US and Japan manipulate currencies, Australia is the loser.

  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on May 23, 2013

    Currency manipulation is a two edged sword. As other posters have correctly mentioned, some devaluation will help manufacturing be more competitive against a foreign manufacturers. But in this highly globalized world, where your dog food and the flowers one purchases for the loved one, to a thousand things in between, they all come from other countries and will become more expensive. However, it will make certain things -real estate a prime example- cheaper to foreign buyers. And native buyers will feel the pain of much more expensive housing. Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions...it is really a tightrope that central banks have to walk. But hey! it could be far worse. You could be living in Greece, or Cyprus or Spain, and have a Central Bank which is not-in-your-country, and gives a rat's ass about your economic problems.

  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂