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Q&A: Foreign carmakers get various forms of assistance

Foreign carmakers' assistance

Are there any foreign governments currently subsidizing their automobile makers?

It depends on your definition of subsidizing.

Many in America think foreign automakers have an advantage over U.S. carmakers because of the various forms of assistance they get from their governments.

"We're the only country in the world that expects its auto industry to exist without some government support," Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, told the Bloomberg News Service.

For instance, United States carmakers have long complained that Toyota and Honda have an advantage of up to $4,000 a car because Japan keeps its yen artificially cheap against the dollar.

Countries such as Italy, Germany and France heavily subsidize pension and retiree health costs, which are a large part of U.S. carmaker's compensation to workers. Italy also helps pay unemployment benefits. And many European carmakers have been state-owned at one time and got loans at preferential rates.

"Just about every one of the European automakers, apart from Mercedes, have had a rescue of one sort or another," Garel Rhys, a professor of automotive economics at the Cardiff Business School in Wales, told Bloomberg.

Trudeau reward went to USO

Several years ago, the comic strip Doonesbury offered a reward for anyone who could prove that they served in the Texas Air National Guard in Alabama with George W. Bush. Was that award ever paid?

In February 2004, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau offered $10,000 in his strip to anyone who "personally witnessed" President Bush reporting for drills at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Alabama between May and November 1972.

Trudeau received hundreds of responses, but no credible witness came forward. So the $10,000 was donated to the United Service Organizations, as Trudeau had intended all along.

Contacting Obama

If I wanted to send an e-mail to President-elect Obama with a valid suggestion on the economy, how would I do that and make sure it is brought to his attention?

We can't guarantee anything will be brought to his attention, but you can go to this Web site ( and fill in a message.

LPGA sets up its own tees

Which tees do women golfers use in LPGA events?

According to, the tour sets up its own tees at each tournament stop. The average yardage is between 6,200 and 6,400 yards.

Q&A: Foreign carmakers get various forms of assistance 12/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:49am]
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