Thursday, April 26, 2007


Signs of the Times

So much to write about, so little time. A few items:
  1. Japanese automakers are still doing fairly well abroad, but sales are flagging at home (note that sales of subcompact “K-cars” are doing well domestically). So automakers are trying all sorts of enticements to get people to buy new cars. Toyota has recently decided to offer “residual-value loans” that will make monthly payments lower (this item in Japanese).
  2. Nissan has reduced profits for the first time in seven years. Totally predictable is the fact that sales are hurt by higher raw material costs and high gas prices, not to mention the enticement of discounts. Even whiz kids like Ghosn can only do so much.
  3. Russian resource nationalism: In his state-of-the-nation speech, Putin says that foreign fishers will be cut out of Russia’s fishing industry by abolishing quotas to foreign companies. And it’s not just fish. Everywhere you look, Russia is putting up fences around its resources and energy.
  4. Biogasoline program launched in Japan. Feel-good idiocy.
  5. Japan’s Foreign Minister Aso will visit the US where his schedule calls for attending the “two plus two” security meeting. Japan and the US are expected to agree on a “General Security of Military Information Agreement.” Watch this one closely.

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