Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Glass Half

Rarely have I ever seen such a dramatic glass half empty, glass half filled story.

The pessimists, the bears, the media based in New York and the economists who work for money center banks see an economy tanking, dollar falling apart, housing dead for a decade, and a stock market shuffling in the mud. Virtually, blood in the streets.

The optimists see a slowdown in housing offset by a surge in exports. They see softening interest rates, a useful fiscal stimulus that will easily pass Congress and be signed, a bottoming residential real estate climate very inviting to speculators, and booming economic growth in the U.S. by late 2008. They also see oil softening to $75 a barrel and refiners keeping gas well under $3 per gallon. The only real inflation is caused by the idiotic ethanol boondoggle which has screwed up the old balances in American agriculture.

When I look at the two scenarios, the glass half full view looks much more likely, particularly in the industrial arena. Wall Street has taken a series of body blows because of the latest derivatives fiasco. The sub-prime mortgage market is unwinding, but the refinancing wave will begin very soon as 5 percent money becomes available to solvent borrowers. If you add this to benign commercial rates, tax cuts for individuals, weak dollar, modest inflation, cheaper gas, a national election, and cheaper depreciation and small business write-offs, it spells explosive rebound. Man on the street confidence is soft now, and business has caught the fear bug because of the shrill, no-nothing New York media claque, but this will turn as the election gets closer. People are tired of Bush. An Obama presidency is both enormously bullish for personal confidence and very scary because of the senator’s leftist rhetoric. A Clinton nomination probably means another Republican in the White House, which means gridlock, which is usually bullish.

So at the end of January, 2008, the year looks very promising – if we are not blinded by the sourpusses.

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Tata Motors $2,500 car unveiled. “The People’s Car”

On Jan. 10, 2008, Tata Motors unveiled its revolutionary $2500 car, the Tata Nano, also being called “The People’s Car” by its maker.

The vehicle measures 3.1 meters in length, 1.5 meters in width and 1.6 meters in height. It has a mono-volume design, with wheels at the corners and the power-train at the rear in order to provide both maneuverability and space on the inside to accommodate families.

The Nano has a rear-wheel drive, all-aluminum, two-cylinder, 623 cc, 33 PS, multi point fuel injection petrol engine. It’s the first time that a two-cylinder gasoline engine is being used in a car with single balancer shaft. That might seem pathetic compared to industry standards but in a country in which millions use motor scooters to transport families it will revolutionize the lifestyle of India’s masses. According to Forbs.com, $2,500 is three times higher than India’s per capita income, and the average pay for a Tata Motors factory worker is $5,500 a year.

Read the “Next” feature in Today’s Machining World’s December issue for further insight on the $2,500 car from auto industry experts.

In this video of the car’s unveiling, Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors compares the innovation of “The People’s Car” with the moon landing, the invention of the bicycle and the evolution of today’s personal computer.

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