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Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster [With Earbuds] [Anglais] [Lecteur digital à contenu audio pré-chargé]

Paul Ingrassia , Patrick Girard Lawlor


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Extrait

One Where the Weak Are Killed and Eaten


It really wasn’t intended to be a prophecy. It was just a smart-alecky T-shirt worn for years by local teenagers to annoy their parents and show their perverse pride in the Motor City’s tough-town image. It said: detroit: where the weak are killed and eaten. But the menacing message seemed all too appropriate in the bleak winter of 2008–2009, when signs of weakness—indeed, desperation—erupted everywhere in Detroit.

One bankrupt car-components company economized by servicing the bathrooms in its suburban headquarters only every other day. Some of the bathrooms ran out of toilet paper, prompting employees to hoard it or bring their own from home. In the city itself employment prospects were so bleak that some prisoners begged to stay in jail to get food and shelter—“three hots and a cot,” in the local parlance.

The city’s battered economy was reflected on the football field, where the University of Michigan was enduring its first losing season in forty years, and the Detroit Lions were plummeting to pro football’s first 0–16 season. During their 47–10 drubbing on Thanksgiving Day 2008, fans unfurled a banner reading bail out the lions. It was a gallows-humor reference not only to the football team but also to the weakest teams in town—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

Since the beginning of the century America’s Big Three car companies, bleeding from more than $100 billion in losses in four years, had shed more than 333,000 employees, enough to populate the city of Cincinnati. In November 2008 GM’s stock closed below $3 a share for the first time since 1946, when Harry Truman was president. To conserve cash, the company ended its nine-year endorsement deal with golfer Tiger Woods, who was making more money than GM anyway. That same month Detroit’s automakers went to Washington to beg Congress for a bailout—in a last-ditch effort to avoid another b-word, bankruptcy.

Their potential demise marked a shocking reversal of fortune for companies that had been defining forces in shaping America and indeed the world. Detroit’s manufacturing muscle had helped win World War II and underpinned U.S. economic hegemony in the postwar Pax Americana. The companies had made Detroit the Silicon Valley of the mid-twentieth century, a place of economic opportunity, where hillbillies from Appalachia and sharecroppers from the South could break out of poverty and grab a piece of America’s bounty.

Ford had invented mass manufacturing and, with it, the car that had put the country on wheels, bringing mobility to the masses and freeing multitudes of American farmers from the drudgery of rural peasantry. Henry Ford’s Model T had been the first people’s car and had indirectly inspired the development of another people’s car: the Volkswagen Beetle.

General Motors, in turn, had pioneered mass marketing, with a ?hierarchy of brands ranging from the practical Chevrolet to the ?prestigious Cadillac that fit Americans on all rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. GM also had developed the organizational principles—decentralized operations subject to central financial control—that would underpin virtually every corporation in America and the world. GM scientists had invented the room air conditioner and the mechanical heart pump. And in 1955 GM had become the world’s first company to earn more than $1 billion in a single year.

That General Motors could go bankrupt seemed as unlikely as, say, America’s banks going broke or a black man being elected president of the United States. But in fact all three of those things—one a historic breakthrough, the other two historic breakdowns—would happen in the mind-numbing months between late 2008 and mid-2009. In the end the bailout of America’s banks would cost seven or eight times as much as rescuing Detroit, but the emotional impact would be nowhere near as deep.

It was cars, after all, not banks, that Americans celebrated in books, movies, and music. The Beach Boys’ memorable 1963 song was “Little Deuce Coupe,” not “Little Deuce Coupon,” and Wilson Pickett’s hit three years later was “Mustang Sally,” not “Mustang Sallie Mae.”

Millions of Americans cherished the memories of the 1950s tail fins, the 1960s muscle cars, and their own sexual and other escapades in the automobiles of their youth. A typical episode occurred in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1969, when two boys driving a hot new Ford Mustang pulled out of a local Chicken Charlie’s drive-in, tailed by girls driving a Plymouth Barracuda. It was showtime. When the Mustang’s driver hit the accelerator, the car literally flew over a blind hill and momentarily went airborne—just as it was passing a parked policeman. The cop must have been startled, because when he pulled the boys over, he had hot coffee spilled on his uniform. Thousands of such incidents, all across America, would inspire Hollywood a few years later to make a movie called American Graffiti.

By the end of the twentieth century America’s love affair with the automobile had evolved into an infatuation with the sport-utility vehicle, or SUV, designed for traversing off-road terrain, although few people actually took it there. The vehicle’s unlikely popularity made it fitting that on December 7, 2008, Detroit’s greatest hour of need, three gleaming white ones—a Chevrolet Tahoe, a Ford Escape, and a Dodge Aspen—were parked like sacred icons at the altar for a special service at the Greater Grace Temple Pentecostal Church on Detroit’s northwest side.

It happened to be the sixty-seventh anniversary of Pearl Harbor, but the service wasn’t to pray for deliverance from Japanese dive-bombers or torpedo planes. Instead it was to beseech relief from Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords, whose wide popularity—on top of America’s ?financial crisis—was a critical cause of Detroit’s affliction. A vice president of the United Auto Workers led prayers for a con?gressional bailout and gave the worshipers a benediction for the occasion. “We have done all we can do in this union,” he said, “so I’m going to turn it over to the Lord.”

The presiding prelate at the service intoned: “We have never seen as midnight an hour as we face this week. Lives are hanging above an abyss of uncertainty as both houses of Congress decide whether to extend a helping hand.”

... Uncertainty was hanging heavily in many places across America that were far from Detroit. One was the “sparrow fart” town of South Paris, Maine, as Gene Benner affectionately put it. There he owned Bessey Motor Sales, the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership that served the town of 2,200 people, some ninety minutes northwest of Portland. Benner was the quintessential small-town car dealer. His road to that occupation, while less than direct, was a real-life version of the American dream.

He had been a star wide receiver, and holder of a host of school records, on the University of Maine football team. After graduating in 1970, Benner was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and hoped for a pro football career. But after being cut in the team’s tryouts, he played semipro football in Connecticut for a while, then returned to Maine to become a high school teacher and coach.

In 1984 he wanted to change careers and started selling cars at Bessey Motors. A decade later he scraped together all the money he could find, including borrowing some from his mother, and bought the dealership. In his twenty-five years in the car business he had seen a lot: Chrysler’s incredible comeback under Lee Iacocca in the 1980s, the smash-hit successes of the company’s minivans and Jeeps, Chrys?ler’s 1998 merger with Daimler-Benz to form the first post?national car company, and the sale of Chrysler in 2007 to a private equity firm after the Germans had given up on the deal.

In 2008 Benner’s dealership was losing money, and he faced difficult decisions on how to save it. Nothing he could do would matter, however, if Chrysler just collapsed. That calamity, if it happened, would throw his thirty employees out of work and wipe out everything he had worked for in the last quarter-century. Detroit’s crisis, in a very real sense, was Gene Benner’s crisis too.

The same was true for Fred Young and his son, Gene, in another small town far from South Paris. They were autoworkers—Fred retired, Gene still active—at the Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, a town of about 22,000 people some seventy miles northwest of Chicago. America’s automotive history ran deep in Belvidere, where the first car had been built in 1904: the Eldredge Runabout, an open-air two-seater produced by the local National Sewing Machine Company. Like the Zenkmobile, the Orient Buckboard, and most cars that appeared in the auto industry’s early years, the Eldredge Runabout soon flopped.

Not for another sixty years would cars again be made in Belvidere. In 1965 Chrysler built a spanking-new assembly plant just outside the town, and Fred Young started working there. He toiled in the factory for thirty-six years before retiring in 2001 with a comfortable pension and free medical care for life—or so he thought. In 2008 he was seventy years old, and with Chrysler’s survival in doubt, Young was worried about his future too.

Gene Young had followed his father’s footsteps onto the factory floor in 1999. Over the next nine years he had spent only half of his assigned working hours actually building cars, but he had gotten paid for the other half anyway. That was thanks to the Jobs Bank, a program that was started by the car companies and the UAW in the 1980s.

The original intent of the Jobs Bank was to provide temporary security for hou... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Revue de presse

"Paul Ingrassia, with longtime and impressive credentials thinking and writing about the vicissitudes of the American auto industry, has delivered in Crash Course a devastating and compelling narrative of the ongoing hubris and miscalculation that felled one of our country's corporate treasures. Ingrassia explains clearly that the Big Three's days were numbered long before the recent bankruptcy filings of GM and Chrysler. Crash Course thus becomes a cautionary tale for an industry's failure to make the changes necessary to survive in a global marketplace until it was almost too late."—William Cohan, author of House of Cards and The Last Tycoons
 
"How did America's biggest business sink? It's complicated – three Titanics, dozens of icebergs, and 60 million deck chairs per year being rearranged. Only Paul Ingrassia can explain."—PJ O'Rourke, author of Driving Like Crazy 

"Crash Course is one wild ride. Paul Ingrassia knows the auto industry from union hall to executive suite, from greasy plants to sleazy accounting practices. Passionate, biting and insightful, this book is a devastating critique of how capital and labor unwittingly colluded to break apart a great American industry. Rich with insider anecdote, peopled with unforgettable—and unforgivable—characters, Crash Course explains not just what happened to America's cars, but to its very soul."—Geraldine Brooks, author of March


"Paul Ingrassia is the best informed, most insightful reporter on the auto industry. A gripping decline-and-fall saga of Detroit's Big Three, Crash Course is a fascinating inside look at how ego and hubris destroyed an industry, with riveting behind-the-scenes details and great reporting. This book is a must-read account of how the Obama administration took control and upended the Detroit power structure."—Jim Stewart, author of Den of Thieves and DisneyWar

"Paul Ingrassia’s deeply insightful and highly knowledgeable chronicle of the American automobile industry should be read by anyone who is interested in finding a successful way forward, not only for American automakers but also for American manufacturing and our workers.  One might not agree with all of his views, but they should stimulate the serious debates that we need on issues critical to our future."—Robert Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations and Former Secretary of Treasury --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  60 commentaires
26 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Wistful nostolgia or a call for the future...you decide! 12 janvier 2010
Par Todd Bartholomew - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
If anyone is well placed to chronicle the collapse of the American automobile industry it is industry veteran Paul Ingrassia. "Crash Course" is a damning indictment of how badly Detroit's Big Three have squandered any chance at survival they once had. In the process "Crash Course" is a crash course on how to fail at negotiating globalism, managing the marketplace, and surviving in a competitive marketplace without government intervention. Ingrassia moves seamlessly from the corporate headquarters to union halls to get the genuine skinny on what's REALLY happening in Detroit and elsewhere. Daresay, there is no other industry insider who is un-bought and un-bowed that could deliver such a story other than Ingrassia, who eschews playing favorites and calls it like he sees it. Ingrassia captures the accounting gimmicks, industry infighting, and general malaise within the industry that has led to its collapse. The result is at times depressing and often hilarious, sometimes all at once. If there is a way forward it's not the way imagined by the Washington bureaucrats who have propped up Detroit, allowing it a change to fail in ways unimagined.

The result of Ingrassia's work is hardly cheerful; there is a way forward, but it will take more leadership and vision than currently exists in Washington or Detroit, but lets hope someone will latch onto it! At times "Crash Course" feels too much like an overtly nostalgic trip backwards with its pictures of decades old muscle cars. That leads to the contradictory mix of the here and now: is Ingrassia arguing for a way forwards or a call to the past? Obviously older boomers will bemoan how Ingrassia is rejecting the past, but there HAS to be a ways forward. " Crash Course" gives some glimpse to that way.
35 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent Summary - 20 janvier 2010
Par Loyd E. Eskildson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Last year the federal government spent $106 billion to bail out G.M. and Chrysler. In return, the two companies went through bankruptcy and substantially reduced their debt loads, will shut down 16 more factories by 2011 (after closing 22 between 2004-08), 3,000 dealerships will disappear, along with Pontiac, Saturn, and probably Saab, and the UAW gave up its 'Jobs Bank' (allowed senior workers to volunteer for layoffs at 95% pay) and many other prized bargaining wins. Only 60-some years previously these same auto companies, along with Ford and other firms, had been key to America's industrial might that helped win WWII. "Crash Course" provides an excellent accounting of how Detroit's auto oligopoly and labor union monopoly both failed after 70 years of constant battling.

In 1955, G.M. became the world's first company to earn over $1 billion in a year, its market share exceeded 50% (was being closely watched by the Justice Dept.), and Detroit's CEOs were king of the world. In 1960, imports comprised less than 5% of the U.S. auto market, though rising to 15% (mostly German) by 1971. More ominously, the year 1970 brought a 67-day strike against G.M., and worker sabotage at its Lordstown (Vega) plant. G.M. then worsened its quality problems by creating a new overall division (GMAD) in charge of production, separate from design and marketing and creating a lack of accountability. Then, in 1973 Detroit's import problems intensified with the first Arab oil embargo - buyers not only tried and liked Japanese cars' better fuel mileage, but their improved reliability (vs. the Chevrolet Corvair and Vega, Ford Pinto, and the later Dodge Omni) as well.

In 1982 Honda opened a plant in Ohio - it planned to sign with the UAW (its Japanese plants were unionized) but held back due to the plant managers' concerns. More than two dozen other Japanese plants followed, and the UAW's monopoly was quietly broken. Simple things involving respect - like providing job security, valuing worker ideas, making the work more ergonomic, locating predominantly in non-union areas, and improved dignity through common uniforms, parking, eating and restroom facilities for all levels eliminated the UAW's appeal.

Instead of focusing on improving car quality in the 1980s, Detroit went in other directions. G.M. bought Hughes Aircraft for its technology and EDS for its computer skills, paid Ross Perot $375 million to get off G.M.'s board and stop criticizing management, and established a 'Jobs Bank' for workers displaced by automation (later expanded to those displaced for any reason without any time-limit, and costing about $1 billion/year). The good news for G.M. is that it abolished both GMAD (assembly plants) and Fisher Body (stamping plants) to improve accountability, launched Saturn to build small cars with innovative labor relations and high-tech, and entered a partnership with Toyota to re-open a Fremont, Ca. plant (NUMMI) that had previously been G.M.'s worst. (Using the same workers and union leaders, Toyota led NUMMI to become a top quality facility as it produced cars for both firms.) Meanwhile, G.M.'s market share dropped to 41% by 1986 - had been over 50% at its peak. Across town, Chrysler bought Gulfstream and Maserati and moved production line locations ($800 million), and Ford spent billions to buy Jaguar, Aston-Martin, and part of Mazda.

The years 1990-91 brought $6.5 billion in losses for G.M., and the U.A.W. sabotaging the Saturn effort by insisting that expanding production into another facility required U.A.W. contract coverage (the Table of Contents ran nearly 20 pages), and that parts procurement had to be via union vendors. Other years in that decade brought record profits, aided by stretching factory depreciation from 35 to 45 years, and increasing projected pension investment returns. Mercedes bought Chrysler for a 40% stock premium in 1998, expecting $3 billion/year in savings - instead, Chrysler profits fell. Another strike at G.M. in 1998 lasted 54 days, and led to spinning off parts production into 'Delphi,' while continuing to guarantee Delphi's pension obligations. The U.A.W., in response, refused to allow suppliers to deliver pre-assembled modules that would save $2,000/car. Ford continued its acquisitions - buying Volvo for $6.5 billion, a chain of car repair shops in England for another $1.6 billion, and Land Rover for $2.9 billion. Soon after the Ford Explorer-Firestone tire problem hit, costing Ford at least $3 billion in recalls; thus distracted, Ford's quality hit bottom on J.D. Power ratings. The decade ended with all the Big Three all deciding to focus on trucks and SUVs - their profit areas.

The new millennium began with G.M. acquiring 20% of Fiat for $2.6 billion and agreeing to acquire the rest of the company later, spending $1 billion to close Oldsmobile and pay off affected dealers, expanding GMAC into home mortgages and commercial lending, and finding itself with a 29% market share. An internal report concluding that the company still had too many brands, factories and people was ignored. Its last profit was in 2004, at which time market share was down to 27%. About half of that was Chevrolet, and the rest spread over 7 other brands - including Subaru (owned 20%). The result, again, was a period in which G.M. cars looked like each other - for obvious cost-saving reasons. Then the Japanese brought out SUVs, gas prices rose, and G.M. was forced to pay $2 billion to Fiat to withdraw from its prior buy-out agreement. Meanwhile, Ford lost $12.6 billion in 2006, brought in a new CEO (Mulally, from Boeing), and borrowed $23.6 billion. Chrysler, meanwhile, was still losing money and the U.A.W. refused to grant contract concessions - Mercedes then sold it to Cerberus for virtually nothing (about a $35 billion loss from the original purchase price).

G.M.'s ratio of retirees to workers had now reached about 3:1 and added $1,600/car, vs. $200 for Toyota (few retirees). G.M.'s viability could no longer be taken for granted, and the UAW agreed to a two-tier wage structure (lower for new hires), and to take responsibility for retiree costs (for $35 billion from G.M., covering about 70% of projected costs). Government bailout talks in 2008 brought a succession of revival plans from G.M. - even the third plan only proposed to 'study' the topic of what to do with excess brands Saab and Saturn, to make Pontiac a 'niche' brand, and to recover by 2014 - based primarily on wishful thinking that the Chevy Volt ($37,000 cost, only 10,000 sales over its first three years) would accomplish this, and to avoid bankruptcy (the only way to break the UAW stranglehold). President Obama's 'car czar' concluded that CEO Wagoner and his board had to go, and they did. Now, Ingrassia concludes, instead of the Big Three, America will have a Medium Six.

Bottom Line: "Crash Course" is the story of an American tragedy - how early success, combined with timorous leadership, led ultimately to failure. Many blame Detroit management for focusing on SUVs and trucks - reality, however, is that these were the only vehicles they could earn profits with, as long as the Japanese had none, gas prices were low, and the UAW was so strong. This story, unfortunately, has also played out in the steel (more steel was produced in 2007 than in 1970, with one fifth the employees and one twelfth the man-hours per ton - thanks to bankruptcy and innovation) and airline industries, though with much better results in the latter - thanks to managements' aggressive use of bankruptcy law. Undoubtedly union abuse of power also has motivated the initial off-shoring of millions of additional American jobs. Unfortunately, the problem continues today - Boeing's 5-year string of $13 billion in profits brought the fourth strike by its Machinists Union in 20 years - this time for 8 weeks, delaying deliveries, causing cancellations, and prompting Boeing to lay off 10,000 workers and spend billions more to start a second-production line in non-union South Carolina.

Finally, American managers are often blamed for short-term thinking - eg. Detroit's CEOs failing to use bankruptcy laws to tame the UAW, and U.S. bankers dragging the nation into the 2008 Great Recession. Both Detroit's and the banking system's failure were abetted by U.S. regulators and political leaders failing to act. Conversely, our Chinese competitors are hampered neither by strong unions nor inept regulators. And that gives them a very strong advantage, in addition to their low costs.
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Gawkers at a Rollover on I-94 14 avril 2010
Par Keith Otis Edwards - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The very worst type of book is one which presents information that everyone knows, but it's the author's conceit that he is such a virtuoso with words that you'll be delighted to read it anyway.

"Crash Course" begins that way. Everyone is already familiar with Henry Ford's famous dictum that a buyer of a Model-T could "have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black," but Paul Ingrassia has to gussy this up and get the wording wrong by writing, "To simplify the production process further, he decreed that instead of making the Model-T available in red, green, and blue, customers henceforth could have 'any color they wanted, as long as it's black.' " Why mention only one color if you can name three and include "henceforth" to boot? Ingrassia erroneously credits Henry Ford with inventing the concept of the assembly line, when he actually had nothing to do with its development.

The book hits its nadir with the author's reminiscences of the fabulous '50s and '60s, and we are treated to not one, but three lists of his favorite rock-'n'-roll car songs -- each list including the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun" -- followed by a Freudian comparison of gaudy tail fins, grilles and bumpers to the reproductive anatomy. This book, ostensibly about the collapse of the auto industry in recent years, wastes many pages on such threadbare topics as Ralph Nader vs. the Corvair, the flop of the Edsel, and a third of the book has passed before we even reach the 1990s. This space (particularly all the car songs) could have been better spent by a report of previous boondoggles in which the federal government (during the Clinton administration) lavished billions on the industry to fund research on more fuel efficient vehicles (the result of which was the SUV), then billions more (during the reign of Bush II) to develop the "hydrogen car" (anyone seen one of those, lately?), but apparently Ingrassia was too obsessed (Paul, call your therapist) with the sex-symbol tail fins to consider such recent events germane to the discussion.

Once the author finally focuses on the 21st century (if you get the book, start reading after the usual photo plates in the centerfold -- predictably, photos of the GTO, the Corvair, the Mustang, Henry Ford, Walter Reuther, &c.), the book becomes quite readable and informative. You no doubt know the story and how it ended (if, indeed, it has ended), but Ingrassia does supply enough insider information and detail to make the telling more vivid and worse than you could possibly imagine.

The story is told fairly and evenhandedly with everyone (except, perhaps, the Obama administration) appearing to be fools or knaves or both. Those of a leftist persuasion will find confirmation in the belief that -- for their $14,000,000 annual salaries, plus stock options, plus two free cars a year, plus gold-plated plumbing fixtures-- the experts, the geniuses of management, could easily have been replaced by a gang of winos and street derelicts who would've shown better judgment, while on the other hand, the UAW, like unions everywhere, function only as a gang of extortionists, steadily sabotaging operations and ready to wreck the entire industry if they don't get paid more and more princely wages for mostly sitting around, doing nothing, or any other demand they could imagine. (When I was a chief steward on the committee of Local 312, one of the demands AFSCME put on the bargaining table was, "No work in inclement weather.")

So there's some worthwhile reading here, but first skip over the Hamburger Helper.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A B- Termpaper 22 novembre 2011
Par John Mccarrier - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The first half of the book is an elementary history of the U.S. auto industry from the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908 to 2005. The second half reads like the results of a database search of the New York Times, Walls Street Journal, Business Week, and Automotive News.

Some cop shows on TV claim they are "Ripped from the Headlines". This author skips the headlines and reprints the text of the articles. This book might serve as a useful reference if you want to research things like when did Kirk Krekorian start to buy GM stock. As an analysis of the collapse of the U.S. auto industry it is very weak.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An excellent history of the auto industry and its troubles. 1 mai 2010
Par Michael T Kennedy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I have to say that there are other excellent reviews posted here and I enjoyed reading them. I will just make a few points. The Big Three dominated the era after World War II when most of the rest of the world's industry was prostrate with war damage. They had the field to themselves. A similar story is the US healthcare system which has become a sluggish monolith with no compunction about seeking government help when necessary. The unions and the GM management, in particular, colluded (although that is probably too strong a word) to keep each other happy. The UAW did not strike and the GM management gave them what they wanted. The only party who was left out was the car buyer. The Big Three concentrated on style and ignored quality. I'm old enough to remember when nobody expected a car to last more than three years. Many people bought a new car every year. Before you turn pale at the thought of the expense, be aware that I bought my second new car in 1968, a red Mustang convertible, for $3050. I paid $50 down and signed a contract for $95 a month at my credit union. In three years, the car was paid for. My first new car was a Volkswagen bus, bought with money from my father and it cost $1700 in 1965. The Mustang was our second car. By that time I was a resident physician on the grand salary of $1500 per month.

It's not clear if the short life span of those cars was an example of planned obsolescence or if the union just built crummy cars that looked good. I drove that Mustang for four years and sold it. I wish I hadn't because they are classics now. Ford had another problem. In the 1970s, in a story not well covered in the book, Ford was taken over by the financial people. The men who made cars, from design to the shop floor, were delegated to a back seat. Many large companies did the same thing, maybe to cope with the Carter inflation or the deep recession that followed the painful medicine to stop inflation. It ruined some of them for a while. One was Xerox.

Then came the Japanese car makers. It is an interesting story how the Japanese had to respond to government attempts to prop up the US auto industry and hold the Japanese back. Each step the Japanese were forced to take made them more formidable competitors. It was punitive import duties that drove them to build factories in the US. They found that the newly energetic South was eager for the jobs so they located there. They expected to be unionized but found they had settled in a part of the country that was not pro-union. This story is very well told in the book. When GM started the Saturn to compete with the imports on quality, they built a plant in the South, and the UAW chief at the plant happened to be a rare union leader who wanted to adopt new methods and study the Japanese quality circles and other innovations in labor management cooperation. Saturn was sabotaged by both the GM management, who resented the implication that their cars were inferior, and by UAW leaders as the president of the union at that time, Stephen Yokich, was fiercely anti-management and uninterested in innovation. The project failed but shouldn't have. This is the best part of the book.

I think the author has given the UAW too much of a pass and soft pedaled the Obama administration's rape of the bond holders. He implies they were predatory hedge funds that thought the GM bonds were a buy because the law places secured creditors first in a bankruptcy. The administration stiffed the bondholders, many of whom turned out to be auto industry pensioners and their pension funds. The effect of that act, a gift to the UAW for their support, will come to hurt bond sales in the future since contract law was violated for political purposes. Countries like Argentina do that, not the US, at least until now.

Aside from that quibble the book was excellent.
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