Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush bails out US car giants

With Christmas round the corner the American car industry has been given an early gift in the form of a massive $17.4 billion bail out. President Bush announced the loan on Friday, less than three weeks before he hands his office to President elect Barack Obama.

The reasoning behind the President’s decision was that allowing the US car industry to fail would not be "a responsible course of action". He said that not helping out the industry would leave Obama with added problems. There are conditions though. The firms must show they’ve spent wisely and not paid out in executive perks including the much publicised private jets. But sceptics suggest the problems in the automotive trade cannot be solved quickly. Speaking to
Channel Four News, Dr Daniel Griswold of the Cato institute said that other Foreign car manufacturers were not suffering the same problems and that Bush’s claims suggesting that the US car industry failure would be “too much to bear” were highly exaggerated [BBC].
It is not just US car manufacturers that are running into financial difficulties. As consumers tighten their belt car sales the world over are falling. Britain has seen massive drops in car sales with Jaguar Land Rover being of particular concern. The car firm, which employs about 15,000 in the UK, said last month that it faces "unprecedented trading conditions" as global sales for the whole of the car industry have fallen sharply since the summer. But there is unlikely to be the same help seen in the US. Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson told the BBC, "We are analysing very carefully what is going on in the [car] sector, and we will make good judgments in good time if it is appropriate for the government to take any action or if it is possible for us to do so". But he added there was not “an open chequebook” available.

The financial crisis has taken it toll in many sectors. Besides banking institutions, the retail market has been particularly hard hit. Today MFI, which filed for administration in November, finally closed its stores leaving 1,400 people out of work [BBC]. Woolworths is gradually winding up its business will all store due to shut by early January. Nearly 30,000 will find themselves unemployed when the 99 year old store finally closes its doors, a particularly sad legacy for a business that has survived the Great Depression and several economic downturns. It appears no business is immune from this current recession

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