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If Japan can bail out Toyota for decades we can save GM. [View All]

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Imperialism Inc. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-16-08 09:51 PM
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If Japan can bail out Toyota for decades we can save GM.
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I read the book this excerpt is from. In the course of it he gives several examples of decisions countries made to go against the "free market" and support their homegrown industries for greater goals. Another , non-auto, example is Samsung who was "bailed out" by the South Korean government until they became the global powerhouse they are now. I for one have heard enough of the "free market" arguments about GM and Ford. If Japan can protect Toyota for decades we can do the same.



Bad Samaritans
The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
Excerpted from Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang Copyright 2008 by Ha-Joon Chang.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/boo...

Chapter One

The Lexus and the olive tree revisited

Myths and facts about globalization

Once upon a time, the leading car maker of a developing country exported its first passenger cars to the US. Up to that day, the little company had only made shoddy products - poor copies of quality items made by richer countries. The car was nothing too sophisticated - just a cheap subcompact (one could have called it 'four wheels and an ashtray'). But it was a big moment for the country and its exporters felt proud.

Unfortunately, the product failed. Most thought the little car looked lousy and savvy buyers were reluctant to spend serious money on a family car that came from a place where only second-rate products were made. The car had to be withdrawn from the US market. This disaster led to a major debate among the country's citizens.

Many argued that the company should have stuck to its original business of making simple textile machinery. After all, the country's biggest export item was silk. If the company could not make good cars after 25 years of trying, there was no future for it. The government had given the car maker every opportunity to succeed. It had ensured high profits for it at home through high tariffs and draconian controls on foreign investment in the car industry. Fewer than ten years ago, it even gave public money to save the company from imminent bankruptcy. So, the critics argued, foreign cars should now be let in freely and foreign car makers, who had been kicked out 20 years before, allowed to set up shop again.

Others disagreed. They argued that no country had got anywhere without developing 'serious' industries like automobile production. They just needed more time to make cars that appealed to everyone.

The year was 1958 and the country was, in fact, Japan. The company was Toyota, and the car was called the Toyopet. Toyota started out as a manufacturer of textile machinery (Toyoda Automatic Loom) and moved into car production in 1933. The Japanese government kicked out General Motors and Ford in 1939 and bailed out Toyota with money from the central bank (Bank of Japan) in 1949. Today, Japanese cars are considered as 'natural' as Scottish salmon or French wine, but fewer than 50 years ago, most people, including many Japanese, thought the Japanese car industry simply should not exist.




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