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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Review: The Bug Movie

Mike Smitka

The Bug Movie: Life and Times of the People's Car Produced and Directed by Damon Ristau, Co-Produced by Jason Willenbrock and Tory Alonzo. Chassy Media, November 2016. $14.99 Downloand/DVD, $17.99 BluRay. Available at https://www.chassymedia.com/product/the-bug/.

Publisher's Description: The Bug Movie is a feature length documentary film about the most recognizable and beloved vehicle on the planet: The Volkswagen Beetle. From its dark past in pre WWII Germany, to the Summer of Love, this car captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide. This film explores not only the history of this automotive icon, but also the intense emotional connection it has with its owners past and present… Including Ewan McGregor and his experience with his first VW Bug as a sixteen year old.

I am not a "car guy." My drives have never had a nickname, and seldom get cleaned. The rusted through body panels on my 1988 pickup truck are going to get more rusted. My son can point out cars of note on the opposite side of the freeway. I'm not sure what a Tesla looks like. I live close enough to Hershey, PA that I could visit the classic car fest come October. Indeed, as a member of the Society of Automotive Historians I receive an invitation to their dinner there. I've yet to make it. For me this documentary was thus an introduction to the culture of car buffs, in this case those in love with the classic VW Beetle. Three sorts are depicted in vignettes that develop over the course of this video. Some grew up with memories of it as the family vehicle; for others their strongest memories came through The Love Bug and the other five Disney Herbie films in which a 1963 Beetle was the star. Some just like fixing up old things. Restoring a Beetle to working order is feasible: so many were made that parts remain readily available.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Productivity and US Growth

In the long run, productivity growth is (almost) all that matters. The contribution of additional capital per worker is modest, because the US already is capital rich. It's that diminishing returns thing. We're also highly educated, so there's little room for improvement there in the aggregate. Yes, lots of our young people are ill-served by their "compulsory" education experience, with low literacy and numeracy, and at best weak background in science and technology.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Elitist Schools

Some schools have lots of students from the elite. Mine (no surprise to those here) is one of them, as highlighted in a NYTimes "The Upshot" article. In contrast W&L does a poor job in

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Facile Logic of Tax Cuts

We frequently see claims that a lower tax rate – particularly of corporate or personal income taxes – will work miracles. That is seldom the case.

First, the stated tax rates are not the realized tax rates. While on paper someone with $500,000 in income is paying a 39.9% rate, the rate on the first $450,000 in income is lower: even without deductions the average rate drops to 29%. With the normal array of deductions for mortgages and this and that it will be lower.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Auto Industry Book of Note!

Mike Smitka

Up on Amazon as a New Year's surprise for me:

Here is the Table of Contents:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Trump, Jobs and Growth

Mike Smitka, Washington and Lee University

Since it is in the news, let me point to three posts from this blog on growth and jobs. I've read many blog posts on this issues. While others note that labor force growth is slow, they don't provide concrete numbers. I do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mexican Tariffs and the Auto Industry

Michael SmitkaEconomics, Washington and Lee University

During the election campaign Trump promised to levy a 35% tariff on trade with Mexico. Under both Section 201 and Section 301 of US trade law the President has power to impose unilateral trade measures without going through Congress. So he could, if he chose, impose tariffs on January 21st. He's also promised to tighten up the border. What would those two policies do to the industry?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why BEVs Won't Be Disruptive

Mike Smitka, Torino Italy

In 2030 I expect that Toyota, VW and GM will remain the top 3 global automotive producers (though not necessarily in that order). The flip side is that neither vehicle electrification nor autonomy nor Mobility 2.0 businesses will prove disruptive.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Premature Panic over Bonds


It's anyone's guess at this point what the incoming Administration will do. [I'm guilty, having indulged in speculation on trade policy and the auto industry in my previous post.] So why should each and every change in the economy be viewed as a reaction to Trump? Well, I suppose it's easier than thinking.

...don't blame Trump – yet...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Autos, Trade and Jobs: Chaos Looms

One of the things that appears to motivate Trump supporters is a desire for better jobs. They will be disappointed: trading part-time work at Walmart for sewing garments in a sweatshop is not what they have in mind. If he really does clamp down on trade – one of the few economic tools he has without going to Congress – the results will be counterproductive. The impact on the auto industry could be worse.

...campaign nostrums do not good automotive policy make...