Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More evidence the auto market is oversaturated.

This post has been updated.

The New York Times
A Sea of Unwanted Imports
Published: November 18, 2008

...Unwelcome by dealers and buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused on increasingly crowded port property...

...They are turning dozens of acres of the nation’s second-largest container port into a parking lot, creating a vivid picture of a paralyzed auto business and an economy in peril.

“This is one way to look at the economy,” Art Wong, a spokesman for the port, said of the cars. “And it scares you to death.”

The backlog at the port is just part of a broader rise in the nation’s inventories, which were up 5.5 percent in September from a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department...

...There has also been a sharp drop in demand for the port’s single largest export: recycled cardboard and paper products.

This material typically goes to China, where it is used to make boxes for new electronics and other products that are sent back to the United States. But Chinese factories reacting to sharply falling demand are slowing production, so they need less cardboard. Tons of paper are piling up recycling businesses around the port, the detritus of economies on hold.

Did you noticed that, class? Our biggest export is basically garbage.

...Long Beach is an important port, particularly for the West. It is where imported products arrive and filter through the tributary of trucks, trains and retailers into the hands of consumers. But now, products are just sitting.

“We’re supposed to move things, not store them,” Mr. Wong said.

Roughly 20 percent of the nation’s container imports last year came through Long Beach, putting it close behind the largest container port, Los Angeles. This year, shipping volume at Long Beach is down 10 percent from 2007, and nearly all major ports around the country have seen similar declines. Veteran port workers say the slowdown since mid-October is like nothing they have ever seen. And it is having a cascading impact on other businesses and workers.

In the 150-acre terminal where Toyotas are unloaded, there is a sea of Corollas, Camrys and RAV4s. The mere presence of so many cars is not unusual, given that Toyota brings in 250,000 cars a year in biweekly shipments. But in a sign that something is amiss, dozens of tractor-trailers that transport new cars to dealers sat empty last week amid the rows of Toyotas...

North American Toyota plants, meanwhile, are having to lay people off. It was announced yesterday that both layoffs of some workers and mandatory days off would be implemented at some Domestic Toyota plants. Makes you wonder why they're importing Toyotas when they can't even sell the ones they're making here. The reason, of course, is to keep from having layoffs and work stoppages at the parent company's factories overseas. When push comes to shove, they'll protect their own workers, class, not ours.

But the Big Three are pulling all stops to try and save their dead businesses - including pressuring cities to cut mass transit spending - as if making mass transit unavailable to people will somehow make them able to afford gasoline and new cars. Just as GM worked to kill electric trolleys and streetcars back in the 30s and 40s, there is no doubt in my mind that they are behind state and local governments strange reluctance to fully fund mass transit and spend less on expanding roadways.

New York Daily News
MTA's planned cuts include everything from station agents to entire train lines
Wednesday, November 19th 2008, 11:03 AM

The MTA's doomsday budget will wipe out the W line, zap the Z line and ax more than 1,500 NYC Transit jobs, the Daily News has learned.

The list of bus and subway cuts the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will unveil at its monthly board meeting Thursday is extensive and potentially bruising, sources said.

Riders can expect longer waits, more-crowded rides and having to make additional transfers to get to their destinations if the draconian moves are put into effect...

...The projected 2009 operating budget has widened from about $900 million to $1.2 billion because of the weak economy and dramatically declining tax revenues, Sander said.

Sources said the budget plan will include layoffs in addition to jobs that can be vacated through attrition.

"We began internal belt tightening long before the financial crisis, and the budget released Thursday will start with more administrative cuts," Soffin said.

This is because the Federal and State transportation departments allocate only a tiny fraction of their resources for mass transit - most municipalities have to come up with their own money for mass transit, as we have noted before. The vast majority of Federal and State funds are allocated for highways and automobile infrastructure, not mass transit. What we have here is not a lack of fund, class - it's a lack of priorities. And I don't believe for one minute that this lack of priorities is inadvertent or accidental - it is, very likely, bought and paid for by the Robber Barons who will do anything to try and perpetuate their dead paradigm.

Anything - including depriving you of a means you can actually afford, to get you to work. You're going to be made to spend your money on gasoline and an automobile whether you can afford it or not. So much for "free market economics." In fact, in this MSNBC article below, the automakers actually suggest that if Congress fails to do their will, says one presumably bought-and-paid-for Congressperson who supports the Big 3's plan, the Treasury Secretary should just "take things into his own hands." No democracy for you, America - not yours. (Hat tip - Fark) The Robber Barons want their way, with or without you. So cough up that cash - their self-proclaimed right to it is above Democratic ideals.

Auto aid plan stalls as Big Three teeter
Heads of Detroit ‘Big Three’ make little headway in building support
Associated Press, updated 2 minutes ago 11-19-2008

..."The Congress need do nothing" during its postelection session this week, Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, said Wednesday, although he also said he still hoped lawmakers could strike an elusive deal to carve $25 billion in new auto industry loans out of the $700 billion Wall Street rescue fund.

But it's really up to President George W. Bush's team to act, he said.

"If we can't do it here legislatively, I would hope that the secretary of Treasury would listen loud and clear, because they could take this into their own hands and do what I think is appropriate," the Democratic leader said....

Never mind that these same Robber Barons took other nations to court at the WTO and other venues to prevent their governments from supporting their homes industries, ensuring that the Robber Barons could crush their domestic production of various products. They screamed "protectionism!" every time and said that the "free market" should be left to operate without any interference from the governments of the nations they were exploiting.

Now those same CEOs are running with their hats in hand like pigs to a trough to get their own protectionist support. What hypocrites. "I say, let them crash."

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