Automotive News to Detroit: Stop whining about the weak yen

About $100, but buys much less

Execs of Detroit automakers opened their digital copy of Automotive News today, only to be told that they “need to stop whining about the weak yen.” If Automotive News says that, then it really is time to stop whining.

There usually is very little about the D3 that Automotive News does not like. No wonder: AN has its offices in Downtown Detroit, and the majority of its paying customers are dealers of GM, Ford, or Chrysler. Playing to that crowd, it takes courage to say that whining about a supposedly weak yen “conjures up decades-old images of excuse-making, when the Detroit 3’s problems were everyone’s fault but their own.”

After giving a quick course on foreign currencies, AN says that following the 25-year trend line, “the yen is right around where it should be.” (Actually the chart says the yen is still a bit expensive.) For the past five years, the yen was hopelessly overvalued, and along with a series of natural and not so natural disasters in Japan, the Japanese currency gave Detroit breathing room to get back on its feet. Says Automotive News:

“We hear lots of currency-manipulation talk from protectionists, but none of them were asking us to take it easy on Japan when the dollar plummeted 40 percent against the yen in the mid-’90s, and again a few years ago.

For the past five years, the Detroit 3 have basically had a free shot at stealing profit and market share from Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Now that opportunity has run its course.”

Recently the voices that claimed that Japan is a closed market became quiet. That’s good, because they looked silly, especially when imported cars are the only segment that continues to show growth in Japan.

With Automotive News calling to stop the whining, there is hope that mindless claims of currency manipulation will also end, and that we can all go back to doing business..