31st January 2010

Manufacturing Troubles Remain a Drag on Recovery, Trade & Jobs

via The Seattle Times

by Jon Talton

Top of the News: The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index seems consistent with recovery, coming in at 53.6 for November; any number above 50 signifies expansion in the sector. Unfortunately, the reading sagged from 55.7 the month before, tripping up what economists had hoped would be a steady climb out of recession.

A deeper look shows that the index provides no relief for the biggest immediate problem facing Americans, unemployment. Only six of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in employment. Only 11.7 million Americans worked manufacturing as of October. That compares with 17.3 million in October 1999.

Not only do manufacturing jobs pay better than their counterparts in service industries, they tend to add real value to economic activity (as opposed to selling mortgage swindles). They are also twined with our trade issues. Even fewer manufacturing jobs are now in industries that export, a key part of our huge manufacturing trade deficit.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon was happening even before the Great Recession. A report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that manufacturing employment between 1965 and 2000 never dipped below 16.5 million. This even as manufacturing shrank as a share of the economy (take out Boeing and it would be much smaller). This changed as imports surged after China joined the WTO and other Asian factory centers upped their game. By 2004, the number was lower than any time since 1950.

“It is often claimed that declines in manufacturing employment stem entirely from productivity growth,” according to EPI economist L. Josh Bivens. “However, rapid productivity growth is the norm, not the exception, in manufacturing. What is new about the manufacturing job crisis of the last four years is the sharp downturn in the ratio of domestic production to demand.”

Indeed, American steelmakers are shrinking yet again.

The Back Story: The official unemployment rate including discouraged workers and part-timers seeking full-time work is 17.5 percent. But Shadow Government Statistics, a provocative and reliable site, argues even this underestimates the problem. Try…22 percent.

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31st January 2010

Subaru Ownership Tips

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A couple of common things you may not know about your Subaru.

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31st January 2010

Rolex 24 Cranks Up Daytona Speedweeks

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida ‚ÄĒ Speedweeks, with its origins in the early 20th century when the sands of Ormond and Daytona beaches were used for winter land-speed record trials, gets underway with the Rolex 24 sports car endurance race this Saturday and Sunday.

Fifty-one years ago, competition moved from the beaches to the 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona International Speedway and its 3.56-mile road course, which includes most of the tri-oval and a section that winds through the sprawling track’s infield.

Three years later, a three-hour sports car race was added to the schedule of events headlined by the Daytona 500. It has grown to the twice-around-the-clock contest that has become an internationally known event, with a list of winners including names such as Gurney, Hill, Bandini, Foyt and Andretti.

The stature of the race has been altered by its alignment with NASCAR-affiliated Grand-Am, which emphasizes restraint of spending and technological innovation. The race will not feature the sports prototypes that compete in the world’s premier endurance race, France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But this year’s race will include a star-studded cast, including Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti; four-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson; Formula 1 veteran, Rolex 24 and Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya; and sports car standouts Hurley Haywood, Butch Leitzinger, David Donohue, Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor.

Haywood, a five-time winner of the Rolex overall title, is competing for the final time in the race. He will be a co-driver of the Brumos Racing Porsche Riley entry with defending champions Donohue and Darren Law, plus three-time winner Leitzinger and Raphael Matos.

The race gets the green flag at 3:30 p.m. EST Saturday.

Inside Line says: Grand-Am’s rules restrictions are antithetic to many sports car racing traditionalists, but the series has produced some entertaining competition. ‚ÄĒ David Green, Correspondent

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31st January 2010

Extreme Russian offroad vehicle

Are you fan the Hummmer H1/2/3 or whatever else? Forget it. Look at this an extreme amphibious offroad vehicle, called Aton-Impulse VIKING-2992, that you can take with you when going fishing or in the mountains.

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31st January 2010

Owners Still Waiting on Toyota Fix

Reports earlier today pointed to Toyota announcing a fix for owners of 2.3 million vehicles over a defective accelerator pedal. However, as of this afternoon no fix has been announced. USA Today is reporting that while new and improved pedals are being sent to factories, there are still questions on how to repair the cars already on the road.

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31st January 2010

What’s your favourite motoring myth?

Heard any rumours?

Yep, lots of things. There are lies, big and small, circulating in cyberspace and on good old-fashioned paper.

Perhaps it’s because people believe what they want to believe. Or maybe it’s because if something is repeated often enough, it becomes a fact. Even if it is so obviously an unfact.

In the interests of scientific research, I thought I’d test this second hypothesis by seeing whether publishing the following vaguely plausible falsehoods can elevate them to gospel truths.

So here goes:

Ford’s new 5-litre Coyote V8 engine derives some of its impressive 307kW output from a ninth cylinder, located under the sump.

Double clutch transmissions are illegal in Mali, Togo and three other northern African countries on religious grounds.

Despite its name, the original Audi Quattro ‚Äď the acclaimed five-cylinder turbocharged coupe from 1980 ‚Äď drove only three wheels. The other wheel was used for braking.

Soichiro Honda’s middle name was Edgar. His younger sisters were Doreen and Gladys.

Alice Springs photographers recently caught Porsche testing a dual-cab utility version of the Panamera sedan. The Porsche Crewman will compete with Jaguar’s forthcoming G-Type forward control van, said to be capable of carrying four standard pallets in leather-lined luxury.

In the 19-year gap between the launch of the Ford Model T and its replacement, the Model A, Henry Ford became restless and built the prototype for ‚Äė‚Äėa transportable communication device that would produce a variety of different ringtones and also enable you to play solitaire.‚Äô‚Äô It was said to be small enough to fit wholly within the tray of a small utility truck.

The latest report from Statistics New Zealand shows that, for the first time, the country has more blue station wagons than sheep.

Early versions of the Ssangyong Musso were imported from another planet.

In parts of Wales, Volvos are banned after 9pm.

The outer panels of the Maybach 62 are made from Boglar, a light, strong and ultra-expensive composite material taking in high-tech polymers, titanium and Irish peat.

Aston Martin was named after a vaudeville act. Aston Bing and Martin Zing were famous for singing romantic ballads underwater and juggling small dogs. Their act was popular among British motoring engineers before World War I.

The Ferrari California takes its name from the California Cafe in the Italian village of Giani, where durability engineers from Maranello stopped for lunch each day.

Believing that it was only bad timing that defeated Porsche, British sports car maker Morgan is said to be planning a takeover of the VW Group.

A long-wheelbase landau version of the Facel Vega Facellia F2 was once mass-produced on Christmas Island.

Research by the Office of State Revenue shows that your chances of being roasted in a fireball, diced and sliced by ripped steel and shattering glass and having your steaming viscera sprayed all over the road quadruple with every kilometre per hour you exceed the speed limit.

Every Lexus sedan has an acorn sealed in the hood lining to bring good luck to the buyer.

As well as building jet fighters, the original Saab company manufactured playing cards, drinking straws and garden furniture. The first Saab car, the 92, came about when an unusually long cold snap in Sweden decimated sales of barbecue settings and iron benches.

Holden means armpit in Finnish.

The rock Dick Johnson collided with at Bathurst, while leading the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 in 1980, has been preserved at the National Museum of Australia.

So there you have it: proof untruth is stranger than fiction. Let’s see which of these unfacts are repeated.

What’s your favourite motoring myth?

Tony Davis

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