The Currency Wars: Now US Automakers Are Squealing

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party went all out late last year to re-grab the power it had held for 50 years before getting booted out in 2009. Its platform: print and borrow with utter abandon to create asset bubbles and inflation, and to weaken the yen. It even threatened to wrest control over the printing press away from the Bank of Japan. That verbiage has been phenomenally successful: the stock market is surging, and the yen is crashing from historic—under normal circumstances, inexplicable—highs.

But now, US automakers are squealing. They want the government to fight back in the currency war. The American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), a lobbying organization that represents only Ford, GM, and Chrysler, sent President Obama a letter, demanding retaliation against Japan’s NO EXIT strategy. Then it went public with it grievances.

“Here we go again,” said Matt Blunt, AAPC president and former Republican governor of Missouri. “Japan’s Liberal Democratic party is back in power and determined to repeat the ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policies that distort trade by cheapening the value of the yen to promote economic growth in Japan at the expense of its trading partners.”

He claimed that “these types of policies” had “inflicted tremendous harm” on manufacturing in the US. “We urge the Obama Administration to make it clear to Japan that such policies are unacceptable and will be met by reciprocal measures.”

The AAPC has been lambasting Japan, and rightfully so, for having “the most closed auto market in the developed world,” protected by “non-tariff barriers” that keep US automotive products out. But now it accused Japan of manipulating its currency “to boost its own exports at the expense of other nations, especially the United States.”

Alas, the biggest currency manipulator in the world is the Fed, not only with its verbiage but also with its endless and escalating waves of quantitative easing, to the point where it currently prints $85 billion a month to debase and demolish the dollar, or what is left of it, which isn’t much. It makes US wages more competitive with those in Mexico and China. It also makes imports more expensive for American consumers and exports cheaper for consumers elsewhere. Meanwhile, Japan’s infamous trade surplus has given way to a ballooning trade deficit (graph).

The automakers were whining to President Obama, ironically, as another announcement was made and received with hoopla: GM would invest $1.5 billion in plants in North America in 2013. While no further details emerged, hopes were swirling that this manna would rain down on Michigan.

Yet North America, in addition to Michigan, also includes among other places Canada and Mexico, and how much of this money will land in the US is uncertain. Embarrassingly, the $1.5 billion was just a fraction of GM’s planned investments of $8 billion for 2013, of which $6.5 billion will be sent to countries outside North America—not Europe where GM is bleeding to death, but Asia.

That has been the paradigm in manufacturing for decades. US corporations have invested prodigiously in China and other countries where labor is cheap and have thus contributed to their enormous economic growth, while only crumbs have fallen on US soil. In this manner, much of the US auto component industry has moved offshore.

Exhibit A: Delphi, formerly GM’s component division. GM spun it off in 1999. Two years later, Delphi axed 11,500 workers. In 2004, it got into hot water over its accounting practices. In 2005, it went bankrupt and closed 45 plants in the US, with much of the production moving to China. In 2009, it sold its chassis division to state-owned BeijingWest Industries, which now develops and manufactures brake and chassis components for US and European automakers.

Exhibit B: Visteon, formerly Ford’s component division. Always the laggard, Ford spun it off in 2000. In 2009, it went bankrupt, shuttered all but one of its 33 plants in the US, let go 25,000 workers, and shifted its center of gravity to Shanghai. It now has 171 plants and facilities in other countries. Its headquarters building in Van Buren Township, Michigan, was sold last year, though its headquarters is still officially located there.

Visteon is still “a US company at this point,” CEO Tim Leuliette said at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday. Yet globally, he added, only “about 4%, 5% of our employees are in the United States,” most of them supporting customers in North America. So, if the headquarters shifted to Asia, he said, it wouldn’t change much, jobs-wise.

Bitter irony: American automakers, after having sent their investments and manufacturing overseas, are using a Republican ex-governor to pressure the Obama administration to stop the Japanese from defending themselves in the currency war that the Fed has been waging relentlessly for years.

Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is waging his own war—against TBTF banks. “Repression” is what he calls “the injustice of being held hostage to large financial institutions,” whose investors, executives, counterparties, and customers “believe themselves to be exempt from the processes of bankruptcy and creative destruction.” These banks “capture the financial upside” of their bets but are bailed out when things go wrong, he says, “in violation of one of the basic tenets of market capitalism.” Read.... How Big Is ”BIG”?

And for an easy, fun guy read, if you like cars and the rambunctious process of selling them, check out TESTOSTERONE PIT, the novel.

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jonjon831983's picture

What is saying? Want cake and eat too?

ebworthen's picture

So do the sheeple know that when they buy a "Made in America" Ford, GM, or Chrysler it is really made in China and Mexico?

Glad I still have my 1993 Mazda made in Hiroshima.

Venerability's picture

Yen "Short of the Century" is being piled into by every rank amateur currency trader on the planet.

It is very, very dangerous - much more so than last year's "Euro Short of the Century," which was spearheaded by professionals, not amateurs.

Gung ho Yen Shorts need to take these very prompt complaints by US exporters extremely seriously.

The US is hardly alone. Complaints are already pouring in from South Korea, virtually all of ASEAN, and Brazil.

IMO, China is fuming, although they won't be overt about complaining: They will simply act domestically. Anti-Japanese sentiment is already strong within China because of the South China Sea controversies. If China launched a "Don't Buy Japan" campaign, even a very quiet one, it would be responded to warmly.


Orly's picture

" If China launched a "Don't Buy Japan" campaign, even a very quiet one, it would be responded to warmly."

They already have.  There is an on-the-street boycott of Japanese goods in China thanks to the tensions between the two countries.  See Kyle Bass' interview with David Faber on these pages, for instance.

Yes, the long xxxJPY trades are waaaaay over-done, methinks.  When some guy you've never heard of can get on the bandwagon  such as last Friday and ramp crosses just by re-hashing comething Shinzo Abe said three weeks ago (just as the Fed is suppressing SPX volatility, btw...), it begins to smell like desperation.  Or magic.

Abe even said the Japanese would be fine with a 100:1 JPYUSD, at which point the market did absolutely nothing.  Given the fact that the Fed is in complete control of the entire market situation, this speaks volumes as to their willingness to allow Abe, whom the Feds can't stand, to have his way and jaw-bone the yen down at will.

Last week, it was the Fed who showed Abe and Shirakawa who is the boss and it would behoove them not to get too far ahead of themselves with their "magic words."  They should remember who it is behind the curtain, pulling the levers and he ain't Japanese.

Watch for a massive sell-off upon the BoJ announcement late Monday when they again simply re-hash Abe speeches from two months ago.  They'd better bring something humongous to the table or they're right back in the same boat they were before, if not worse.


Racer's picture

"accused Japan of manipulating its currency"

Pot may I introduce you to Kettle

Lucius Cornelius Sulla's picture

Car manufacturers have moved to China because that is where the market is.  A lot more cars were sold there last year than the USA.  Most sales growth is centered in Asia.  If UAW wages were paid to produce the cars there they simply would not sell as many (if any).  The only reason they remain competitive in the USA is because costs are managed by sourcing production of components in Asia with only final assembly done in the USA.  If the UAW produced all of the components for a Chevy Impala it would cost $60,000.  Who is going to pay $60,000 for an Impala?

11b40's picture

.....and if we put up the kind of obsticals to Asian produced autos in the U.S. as the Asians countries put on American autos, a Hundai would cost $90,000 here.  

Lost Wages's picture

The auto industry has pumped out garbage for years. I hope they fuckin' die.

11b40's picture

All you auto-industry bashers are long on opinion and short in facts.  Detroit purmped out real crap in the 70's & early 80's  That started to change, and by the mid 90's, a lot of progress had been made.  Now, domestic autos are on par with imports, and some cases even better.  I have been driving 30K+/yr for almost 35 years, and been through a lot of cars.  Cadillacs and Buicks are my absolute favorites for comfort, reliability, and overall cost of ownership.  Safe, too.

Rattling Bones's picture

I bought a Toyota Tacoma and enjoyed it for eight years, but then it was subject to a recall because of troubles with the frames rusting out prematurely.

Toyota gave me book and a half time value, regarding the vehicle as being mint condition, though it far from it. Basically, they gave me a truck for 8 years of trouble free driving that I bought for $23,000.00 and then they bought it back from me for $18,600.00.

You think the thugs in Detriot would do that?

Rattling Bones's picture

Detroit intentionally pumped out crap in order to rip off Americans. Americans were constantly forced into buying new parts for their Detroit junk boxes, and the thieving, anti-American jack-offs would still be ripping off Americans in this fashion, if not for the Japanese competition.

The Japanese lack of American infrastructure to repair their product forced them to make a dependable car; which in turn forced Detroit to make a more dependable product.

Detroit has now simply figured out another way to rip off Americans through bail-outs. As far as I'm concerned I would NEVER buy any car coming out of Detroit.


cannonfodder's picture

The quality of Japanese autos had very little to do with the repair infrastructure and was mostly due to enthusiastic adoption of the quality assurance and strict control in manufacturing methods developed by W. Edwards Deming.  He approached American manufacturers first, and was soundly rejected in his own country.  It is the difference between 'that's acceptable' and 'that's superior'.

El Gordo's picture

As much as I might like to bash the automakers, the fact is that they are merely reacting to the political and economic environment in which they are located.  It's government policies that are driving them away, along with the associated investment in infrastructure and production line jobs.  One of these days we will wake up and find out Zero has solved out energy problem with bicycles and pinto beans. 

etresoi's picture

What are they worried about?  The USD will soon be worth nothing.

Ten years ago one USD was worth 1.65 CHF

Today, 1 dollar américain = 0,934799598 francs suisse

End of 2013, one USD = 0.60 chf

A US made auto is 45% less expensive and but few are bought even at 20% off list price.

The Heart's picture

Looks like the Russian folks are talking "currency wars" also. Not good.

It is sad to see the good ol USA fast dying and headed for a hard fall in this well planned coming world war. Our Grandparents went to war to stop this kind of insanity and now, two generations later, it is America that has become NAZI Germany. (NAtionilist-ZIonists) The US was the last on the list to be taken down and killed off by the evil that runs rampant over the people of the world. Yes, sad indeed to know that there are so many good people in the country, but they have fallen asleep at the wheel, drugged out on the TV because of the dis/mis-information and constant trashy scuck from the lamest stream propaganda media.

We are seeing the opening salvos of this next world war as was foretold. Too think, had there been just a little more awareness in the mass mind, and a heck of a lot more balls on the panty lace waring men of the USA, all this might be headed into a different direction than the set up like bowling ball pins ready to be knocked down place we are in.

Daddy, who profits in war?



Colonel Klink's picture

I'm trying to muster a tear for the auto industry but alas I cannot.  The game they've been playing is a double edged sword.  Sucks when you cut yourself.  Waaaahhh!

Stuck on Zero's picture

Forget the exchange rate.  Japan, China, Korea, and the rest of the mercantilists will never, ever allow US manufactured products into their countries.  Just stop ending them our jobs and technology.


Joe moneybags's picture

Wolf Richter, of the Testosterone Pit.  Those names are marketing gold.  The Wolf, a wild, dangerous, cunning beast.  Richter, powerful, like 8.3 on the Richter Scale.  Testosterone Pit, fearless cajones, all man.  He's probably really Leslie Lightheart, from Cape Cod.

SmittyinLA's picture

The AAPC represents government, all union entities represent the state, not the workers, not the stockholders, not industry but the state.

Unions, trade groups are all top down organisations .


hooligan2009's picture

norwegian maples used for canandian bank notes!

don't you love trawling rss searches for "currnency fraud"

joego1's picture

They wanted a global economy they got one. What the fuck do they want now a global car curenncy? OK then you got it we will call it the FIAT!

Chuck Walla's picture

Long for wear and tear CTL and P button replacements.


Landrew's picture

I have to agree! Any company with the majority workforce overseas is a foreign company regardless of where their corporate headquarters are!

Bollixed's picture

Well, what do expect from a country that has a foreign President...

MickV's picture

Obama was born, and likely still is, British. His father was a British subject, and by Obama's own account was married to Ann Dunham, thus Obama is British (British Nationality Act 1948 ). Obama,, because he was born with dual allegiance, can never be a natural born Citizen, and is not eligible to be President.

"The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners". Minor v. Happersett, 88 US 162, 167 (1874)

There was only one other Usurper in US history, Chester Arthur, who's father was not naturalized until young Chster was 13. However that fact was jealously and criminally hidden by Arthur, who lied about his date of birth, and burned all family history before he died. No one knew of his foreign father until it was discovered in 2009. All other POTUS' were either "citizens at the time of the ratification of the Constitution" (grandfathered), or were natural born Citizens (born of US Citizen parents on the soil).

There is no law and no Constitution when the President is illegal. It is common knowledge that he is a Usurper within the treasonous government, and that as such US Citizens are without sovereignty or protection of the US Constitution. Take a look around.



fxrxexexdxoxmx's picture

Barrack Obama is the biological offspring of Frank Marshall Davis. He is an American. All the lies come from the fact he is the bastard, his father a close freind of his mothers family, who stopped by and knocked up their daughter. He has a BC with Frank Marshall Davis listed as his fatther. His made up histroy of links to the mother land was for the audience at his 20 years span listening to a racist pastor.


Read " Deconstructing Obama".

11b40's picture

Just because it is 'common' with the folks you hang with, does not equate to common knowledge.  

Not only that, think what you want to think, but he IS the POTUS...freshly re-elected to a new term.

falak pema's picture

Jesus guys get over it. Pax Americana morph and the chickens coming home to roost has nothing to do with Obama's nationality.

His allegiance has been total to the Oligarchy whose hubris has gotten the world where it is. He has been no different to GWB in his conduct during the first presidency. Now his margin is narrow with a head up its ass GOP; wanting to keep its Oligarchy preeminence built up of fiat hopium and sacrifice US welfare state construct totally.

Instead of bleating like sheeple about his nationality look at the substance of what US capitalism has beocme. 

Head in the sand is no solution. 

MickV's picture

I don't know if some of that is /sarc. or not, but if not you miss the point. Obama is the endgame of the NWO--- i.e the installation of an illegal President, by way of illegal donations,  vote flipping via scytel, also by way of the NWO Central banker controlled treasonous congress and useful idiot media, to void the US Constitution and US Citizen sovereignty. How can there be any law, or sovereignty when the POTUS, who is the executor of the laws, is ineligible for the office? Look around--- see any law for the Oligarchy? See violation of the US Constitution in everything Obama does? Get a clue! Tyler also needs to fulfill his duty as an alternate news source, and expose the truth that the complicit media will not. Has he been threatened? Is he afraid? Or is he just willfully blind. NOTHING good will happen regarding the restoration of the suspended public until Obama's ineligibility for the office achieves mass awareness. As of now Tyler aids in the coverup. He has a large platform, but refuses to trumpet the real problem, and only the associated problems.


The security of the United States has been violated by the installation of the Usurper Obama, who is a domestic enemy. He must be removed. Until then all else is whining, and useless chatter. NOTHING else matters at this point.

Chump's picture

This may come as a shock, but there are quite a few of us capable of examining more than one issue.  I have even entertained several, for minutes at a time.  Not bragging, just putting it out there.

Disenchanted's picture

@ MickV

Who does 'Barack Obama Jr.' more closely resemble in these photos?

MickV's picture

If Obama has lied, and Obama Sr. is not his father, then he has other problems. As of now the story from his own mouth is that Obama Sr. was married to his mother, and was his father, and according to FACTCHECK, Obama Srs. children were subject to the British nationality Act 1948--- making Obama 2 a British subject at birth (and likely to this day, since British law acknowledges perpetual allegiance), and thus not an eligible natural born Citizen. Obama himself will never outright lie and claim to be a "natural born Citizen", only a "native born Citizen" (born in the US), or as on, an "American born Citizen".

A2S1C4 is a security measure, designed to assure allegiance and attachment to country in the CIC of the US forces. Seen any allegiance and attachment lately? Ever?


Disenchanted's picture



"then he has other problems."



Supposedly his mother and Grandfather cooked up the story of Barack Sr. being his father. My question is if Obama is aware of that and/or who does he now privately think is really his father. I doubt we'll ever really know. All I know for sure is that to me those pics speak volumes about who is his real father.





MickV's picture

Until the fact of Obama's stated father is disproven, then the conjecture that someone else may be his father is just that, conjecture. There is a reason that Obama Sr. has been put forth as Obama 2's father--- i.e the precedent for the allowance of foreign influence into the future president--- Foreign influence was a danger most disturbing to the founders of the Republic, and John Jay wrote no less than 5 Federalist Papers on the subject (2-6). Prevention of foreign influence by way of an "improper ascendant" (improper ancestor) was explicitly stated as the purpose of the natural born Citizen (Creature of their own) clause in Federalist #68.


"Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?" FEDERALIST 68

Could "raising a creature of their own", include the story of Obama, born British of a British subject Marxist, and raised in a rats den of America haters, Marxists, Islammists and Black Nationalists?

MickV's picture

See Deuteronomy 17:15:


"Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother".

Obama is a foreign domestic enemy, and his rule is an abomination of natural law, and of god.

Disenchanted's picture

One other thing about 'Communist' Frank Marshall Davis:


Sometime between 1927 and 1948, Frank Marshall Davis was recruited as a special agent or informer for the FBI—Federal Bureau of Inquisition....As a newspaperman, Davis had the perfect opportunity to know what was happening in Chicago. As a left wing or "Communist" sympathizer, no one would suspect him of association with the ultra right wing FBI.

As an additional cover-up, the FBI was extremely segregated and did not publicly admit black agents until the administration of President Kennedy.

Aloha—assignment Paradise!!

Imagine leaving the horrible Chicago winters and being assigned to Hawaii....There are areas in the United States where the climate is similar to Hawaii—but the Windy City in winter is definitely NOT one of them.

During the Chicago winter of 1948, our LUCKY couple decided to pack up and move to Paradise—Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean:

During the summer of 1948, Helen read an article in a woman's magazine describing how it was to live in Hawaii. She put it down, turned to me, and wondered wistfully if Hawaii was as wonderful as it seemed. I suggested we investigate. We decided to go there in December and stay two or three months, long enough to miss the worst of another Chicago winter; if we liked it, we would live there permanently. Meanwhile in the next few months I tried to learn all I could about Paradise through the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Hawaiian magazines, Honolulu newspapers, and the National Geographic. When I learned the islands were free of snakes, I was automatically sold. Carefully, we packed our most prized possessions, our record collection, in cartons and stored them. (Davis, Livin' the Blues, p. 311).

That was the explanation for the move to Hawaii according to Mr. Davis....The real TRUTH is that he was a secret FBI agent and was assigned to Hawaii.


Frank was COINTELPRO before it was cool...


quote above from:


So the Prez is quite possibly the son of an American snitch. What's that do for his 'street cred' down in the 'hood?'

willwork4food's picture

We have had foreign presidents for years, friend.

steve from virginia's picture


Sorry, I don't care, the auto industry is dying and there is nothing anyone including Wolf Richter can do about it.


It has something to do with two things:


 - 90 million barrels of irreplaceable capital is burned up in cars every single day for zero return (returns have to be borrowed which is why the world is hundreds of trillions of dollars in the hole),


 - Pushing the car(s) backward 200 miles will not refill the gas tanks. The Fed cannot refill the tanks either ... the reason it's as useless and piss-irrelevant and teats on a bull.


The more consumption we attempt to trigger ... the deeper is the abyss we plunge headlong into ...


Get rid of the cars ... before they get rid of us!



EnslavethechildrenforBen's picture

Average Banker salary is $84,707,000,000.00

And they don't even make a single fucking car.

So blow me.

CheapBastard's picture

My banker was paid only $82,000,000,000.00.


No wonder he's pissed.

I'm a Cheap Bastard; I wouldn't pay 'm much over $98k.

Freddie's picture

I am so sick of the UAW union scum who are ENDLESS parasites on taxpayers backs - just like Obama.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

When Korea decides to devalue, then even more fun starts.

Nice article, Wolf!

robnume's picture

We HAVE to be on meds just to live in this Disneylandish country. Yes, the "Big 3" are BIG SHITS! How the hell can any company who has less than 4% of it's workforce in the U.S. call itself a U.S. Corporation? Personally  I just got rid of my last U.S. automobile, a 1999 Saturn wagon. Bought a 2006 Nissan Sentra Sports Sedan for a song and it is a gem. The Saturns made before 2002 were truly great little cars, turned to crap when GM took over entire production. Yeah, the "Big 3" are traitorous thugs and the U.S. taxpayer shouldn't be bailing these chumps out. Someone needs to nuke "K" Street.

willwork4food's picture

I don't know why anybody buys a GM "what's good for GM is good for America" pos, but to be optimistic Ford has numerous facilities still in the US-One of the major ones in KC. Sad they left our neck of the woods...we miss them, but I'm still thinking about a Titan from Nissan.

3.7.77's picture

Yea, only the USSA can beggar thy neighbor.

Fox-Scully's picture

Did you misspell-- an 'e' where a "u" was supposed to be?

hidingfromhelis's picture

It's not called American Exceptionalism for nothing!