Toyota – driving recovery? Not.

So Toyota has posted a few billion loss, and predicts same again next year. We are not surprised. Simultaneously, a New Zealand retail /credit guru says that only retail spending will ‘get us out of this’. Hmmmm. Growth is expressed in terms of ‘doubling-time’. Anyone willing to bet on our doubling anything from here on in? I’ve just spent the last few hours re-visiting oil numbers (theoildrum.com is the best of them)  and it doesn’t ever look better. We are so near the peak of our available activity, that it don’t matter. When Hubbert predicted a USA oil-production peak in 1970, his (made in 1956) estimate was of a peak of 3 billion barrels per year. It peaked at 3.4 billion (a serious percentage increase) but only 4 months later than he predicted. On that basis, we can confidently predict the end of global growth, even if the numbers are ‘out’ by that magnitude of difference.  Sure, some will grow at the expense of others, but the average has peaked.

To stimulate ‘economies’ (those artificial things made ‘real’ by repetition) governments will pump in money, which will become worth less. Run those words together and you get ‘worthless’. Look for hyperinflation, and ramping interest rates. Given that there is no real substance to back it, credit will be hard to buy, much competed for, and therefore expensive. Corporates are already going the bond route, but that just soaks finite dosh from the pool, meaning less in the pool to buy the products they hope to sell to pull out of it…. Bootstrap parachutes, in otherwords.

How long will we stagger on? A year ago, my guru said we might ‘bounce along for five years’. Make that four now, and the phrase was ‘bounce along’, not ‘pull out’. I’ve seen no numbers in the last year, to refute that view.

Oh what a feeling? Hardly. Ten years from now, we won’t be driving private vehicles for fun. We may be at war, we may be dead, or we may be descending in a controlled manner, in the direction of peasanthood. One thing we will not be is more wealthy. And the only growth we will be worried about will be in the garden.

What did they call it – The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Sounds like the OECD, doesn’t it? Pity, we’ve got two of them….Toyotas, that is. In fact, four now I think about it, along with two Internationals, six Subarus, two Holdens, a Hino, three Honda bikes (and one car), one Bedford, a v-dub kit-car, and a partridge in a pear-tree. Oh, and ‘Clack’ the Cletrac. Just in case I have to prove my petrol-head heritage! This is no greenie bias, just an understanding of a truth. I’ll miss the sharp hown of a ‘six’ as much as anybody.

If you are sceptical, I suggest listening to, or reading stuff from Clive Matthew-Wilson, the Dogs and Lemons man. He has made a few statements like that (on Afternoons, the Panel) but it mostly slid off and landed on the floor. As Jenny Morel’s solar power comments did on the ninetonoon floor. He is on to not only the car industry, but is the best articulator of the exponential function ( google: Albert Bartlett, the exponential function) , I have ever heard on radio. Pointed out that it was impossible for China to maintain 10% growth. Essentially got disbelief from the panelist……duh.

While we’re on it, that panelist wasn’t the worst – that honour goes to Richard Griffin, who opined that the Arabs were looking to buy Auckland Airport, because they knew they were running out of oil. Hello? A nice man, but……

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