Monday, November 17, 2008

Clearing Out Managerial Dead Wood...,

NYTimes | The failure of one or more of Detroit’s Big Three automakers would put a huge initial dent in American manufacturing, but in time foreign car companies would pick up the slack by stepping up production in their plants here, many industry experts and economists say.

Whether Washington should let that play out — risking hundreds of thousands of jobs — is a central question Congress will weigh this week as it hears testimony from Detroit leaders who are pushing for immediate federal intervention, before the next administration takes over in January.

“Barack Obama has made it clear he understands the importance of the industry. The question is, do we get that far?” Ron Gettelfinger, head of the United Auto Workers, said in an interview Friday, raising the prospect of a General Motors bankruptcy. “At this juncture, we are in a crisis that could have a major negative impact on this country.”

But many industry experts say the big foreign makers are established enough to take control of the industry and its vast supplier network more quickly than is widely understood.

“You would have an auto industry in the United States more like that of Mexico and Canada: foreign-owned,” said Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., which describes itself as a nonprofit organization that has “strong relationships with industry, government agencies, universities, research institutes, labor organizations” and other groups with an interest in the auto business.