A recession is partly a media-driven event. People start feeling the pinch because of some factor (e.g. high interest rates, high oil prices), then the papers start reporting the doom, or should I say, over-reporting the doom because journalists need easy sensationalist stories to write about. Apart from the Great Depression, it’s never usually as bad as is made out.
But what happens is that the sheep of the world that read the newspaper stop spending, and the first things to go are the toys and luxuries. Consequently Mercedes is cutting its production in the USA by about 40,000 units over the next 4 months. This will be predominantly the SUV range. General Motors (which is already in deep financial doo-doo) is laying off another 5,000 workers (big trucks just ain’t selling). Last week Chrysler announced 1000 lay-offs, and Nissan’s aiming for 1,200 over the next couple of months with a buyout package.
Sounds like it’s tough out there then! If you can’t make money in cars, what do you do? Well, in times like these it’s always good to remember three evergreen staples: fast food, beer and cigarettes. McDonald’s is now just about the cheapest place to eat, so people go there instead of restaurants (and McDonald’s sells highly addictive coffee to stressed commuters); beer and ciggies are also addictive and people are weak. So they spend their money on that, and save some for the bus (if they can’t afford the car). Of course, working in those industries may require you to sell your soul to the devil, depending on your ethics.
The world has a way of balancing everything out. People driving less and buying more economical cars will reduce the demand for oil. Less demand equals falling prices. Eventually the price of petrol won’t be talked about so negatively and people will begin buying luxuries again. The auto workers will hire staff, but the newspapers won’t report that. They only really report the bad news.
And ultimately, people once again buy cars like the enormous Land Cruiser I’m driving at the moment.