Like the rest of their class, the automobile manufacturers are hoarding cash. Automotive News for October 10 cites a new study by IHS Automotive:
Car companies are holding a quarter-trillion dollars in cash and equivalents, says Charles Chesbrough, senior principal economist at the industry consultancy. And the overall cash-to-revenue ratio is a healthy 19.3 percent, insulating from them a financial crisis.
Leading the pack is Toyota Motor Corp., which is sitting on $42.2 billion, according to Chesbrough’s calculations. Volkswagen AG is a close second with $35.9 billion on the books.
GM, which went through a quick-rinse bankruptcy during the global financial meltdown, has $32.8 billion.
Chrysler’s cash holdings were rolled into Fiat’s for a total of $27 billion. And in a sign of their strength, Fiat leads the industry with the highest cash-to-revenue ratio, at 36.2 percent.
The private automobile is close to the perfect capitalist product. It is huge, fragile, highly amenable to styling, requires vast supporting and allied industries, and, once its infrastructure has been built, damned close to a mandatory possession. It is highly profitable overkill, calling forth far more business opportunities than would exist in any genuinely economical and sane transportation order.
As everybody knows, the United States, being thoroughly dominated by its corporate overclass, has utterly tied itself to cars-first transportation. As a result, as offshoring and Peak Oil have taken hold, the whole arrangement has been rotting away, creating increasing socio-economic devastation. More and much worse is sure to come, as the overclass continues to plan for perpetual reliance on cars-first living.
One huge indicator of the problems at hand is the fate of Detroit, Michigan, the famous Motor City. During the 2011 Super Bowl, Chrysler had the clever idea to turn Detroit’s misery into a new way of pitching its products. Eminem made this ad, which suggests that Chrysler doing well would somehow revive Detroit, despite the fact that Chrysler, like all car capitalists, uses automation and offshoring to constantly reduce its labor costs.
Now, in a very telling move, the new CEO of Chrysler is none other than the marketing genius that thought up this lovely zombie strategy. Not an engineer. An advertising man.
Under an outline already approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gonzalez Jan. 21, the remainder of the company will wind down, giving the U.S. no predicted recovery on its $5 billion loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
The “free market” in action, folks.
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