Ejecutiva Magazine

Special report of the automotive sector

Miami, Monday, February 4th, 2019

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Warren Buffett: “It’s the only thing you cannot buy, I mean, I can buy what I want, basically, but I cannot buy time.”

  • Trump said, “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to” declare a national emergency.
  • Job growth in January surging by 304,000.
  • The United Kingdom, Spain and France announced Monday that they recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuelan interim president.
  • Special report of the automotive sector.

Senior intelligence briefers are breaking two years of silence to warn that the president is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments. Citing multiple in-person episodes, these intelligence officials say Trump displays what one called “willful ignorance” when presented with analyses generated by America’s $81 billion-a-year intelligence services. The officials, who include analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves, describe futile attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, confining some briefing points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible (Time).

President Donald Trump on Friday said, “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to” declare a national emergency in order to appropriate the funds to build his border wall. The remarks came as a specially created committee in Congress is poised to spend the next two weeks trying to reach a compromise on border security before the current short-term government funding bill expires on Feb. 15 (CNBC).

Job growth in January shattered expectations, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 304,000 despite a partial government shutdown that was the longest in history, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate ticked higher to 4 %, a level where it had last been in June, a likely effect of the shutdown, according to the department. For the full year of 2018, the average monthly gain was 223,000 (CNBC).

The Pentagon announced Sunday a deployment of about 3,750 troops to the U.S. border with Mexico, as President Donald Trump continues to press the need for stronger border security amid a surge in migrants from Central America. The additional troops will bring the total number of forces supporting the border mission to approximately 4,350, according to estimates provided by the Department of Defense (CNBC).

Va. governor Ralph Northam (59- D-) says he’s not in racist photo, and rejects calls to resign. Defying nearly the entire Democratic establishment, Northam said Saturday he would not step down, insisting that a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook was not his picture. The Washington Post independently confirmed the authenticity of the yearbook by viewing it in the medical school library in Norfolk. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) called on Northam to resign (Source: The Washington Post).

Wall Street .The Dow Jones closed on Friday positive 0.26%, while the S & P rose 0.9%, while the Nasdaq fell 0.25% (CNBC).

Asian markets traded mixed Monday amid speculation over next steps in the dispute between the U.S. and China over technology development, and trade following meetings in Washington last week. Markets in mainland China and Taiwan are closed for the week for Lunar New Year celebrations. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday. Hong Kong’s  closed up 0.2%. Japan’s advanced 0.46% and Australia’s gained 0.5%. New Zealand’s  shed 0.2%. Shares fell in Singapore -0.13% (MarketWatch).

Automotive section:  Nissan has confirmed that the new X-Trail originally planned for its Sunderland plant (England) will instead be made in Japan. In a letter to workers, it said continued Brexit uncertainty is not helping firms to “plan for the future”. In 2016, the carmaker said it would build the new model in the UK after “assurances” from the government. The government said Nissan’s decision was “a blow to the sector” but that no jobs would go as a result. Nissan has made cars at Sunderland since 1986 and employs almost 7,000 people (BBC News). The 2019 Honda Passport will arrive in dealerships nationwide on February 4. Prices start at $33,035 and surpass $44,000 on the top trim. Key competitors have lower starting prices, including the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer ($29,995), Ford Edge ($31,090), 2019 Nissan Murano ($32,315) (Motor Trend). Porsche said this week that it has been reviewing testing data for the 2016 and 2017 Porsche 911 in Germany after potential discrepancies were discovered. The company said in a statement that it has informed authorities of the matter, which does not affect vehicle safety or the software controlling the engine (RoadShow). Erwin Raphael has been promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer, Genesis Motor America, effective immediately. Erwin will continue to be responsible for the strategic direction and management of all Genesis operations in the United States, including sales and marketing. He reports to Manfred Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President and Global Head of the Genesis Brand based at the Genesis Headquarters in Seoul, South Korea (Genesis Motor America). The Canadian subsidiary of General Motors was unable to stop an auto workers union from airing a critical TV commercial during the Super Bowl. GM announced plans in November to close its car factory in Oshawa, Ontario, near Toronto, costing the jobs of about 2,600 blue-collar workers. The commercial accuses GM of continuing to expand in Mexico while leaving Canadians “out in the cold” and makes claims about the costs of a 2009 auto bailout. GM says in a statement that the ad is misleading and inaccurate (AP). One of the auto industry’s longest-running institutions just ended. Ward’s Automotive Reports, the 96-year-old weekly newsletter that helped create the craft of automotive journalism, published its last issue Jan. 28, after breaking news since 1924 (USA Today). Mazda North American Operationsreported January total sales of 20,045 vehicles, a 19.7% reduction compared to January 2018. Mazda Motor of Mexico reported January sales of 5,120 vehicles, an increase of 8.3% compared to January last year (Mazda). American Honda had higher sales of 1.5% despite the “polar vortex” at the end of January. The trucks set a record for January. Sales of the Honda brand increased by 0.8% while CR-V sales increased by 20%. Acura started in 2019 with a significant increase in January of 9.6% and with an increase in truck sales of 18%. The Acura RDX shot 41% (Honda and Acura). Toyota is teasing the reveal of the updated 2020 Tacoma pickup at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 7. The latest version of the best-selling small pickup in America will be looking to hold its ground against the new Ford Ranger and increasingly popular trucks from General Motors. Following a $150 million investment to increase production, Toyota sold 245,659 Tacomas last year, which was its best year ever and an increase of 24 % over 2017 (Fox News).

El Salvador. A former mayor of San Salvador Nayib Bukele, 37, who campaigned as a change from the country’s traditional politics was declared the winner Sunday night in El Salvador’s presidential race, saying the country had left behind the postwar period by electing a young alternative to the two-party system. He had 53.7 % of the vote with 89 % of the ballots counted. He added: “El Salvador has turned the page on the postwar era. And now we can start to look toward the future.” (The Washington Post). 

Bahamas. At least 28 Haitians have drowned off the coast of Abaco in the Bahamas, officials said Sunday, the latest tragedy at sea for migrants seeking to leave the Caribbean’s poorest economy. “Thus far, a total of 17 persons have been rescued alive and 28 bodies have been recovered from the water” after two days of dive operations, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force said. The incident unfolded Saturday when the ship carrying the Haitians sank near Fowl Cay, six miles (10 kilometers) off the coast of Marsh Harbour, Abaco (Yahoo! News). 

Israel has said the work to strengthen its fence along the Gaza Strip entered a new phase with construction. “Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists on Sunday before a weekly cabinet meeting. The barrier, set to stand six metres off the ground, will be constructed on the pretext of preventing the infiltration of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip into Israel, Netanyahu said (Aljazeera). 

Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has imposed fees and restricted foreigners from working in certain sectors. Rising costs, as part of an overhaul of the economy intended to make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil, have hit low-wage foreign workers especially hard. The result has been a massive exodus of foreigners from the labor force. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tries to remake the Saudi economy. A central pillar of his plan involves creating employment for Saudi citizens in the private sector, where jobs are overwhelmingly held by foreigners. The business environment in Saudi Arabia has also suffered because of the crown prince’s more aggressive policies, including the arrests of hundreds of business executives, public officials and members of the royal family during what the government called an “anti-corruption” sweep last year. The crackdown spooked international investors, and local investors “complain of new hurdles to license and register businesses, and comply with new hiring policies” that require the hiring of Saudi citizens. Between early 2017 and the third quarter of last year, more than 1.1 million foreigners left the workforce in Saudi Arabia, according to the latest figures from the government statistics agency. It is not the first recent large-scale exodus of foreigners: Hundreds of thousands left or were deported in 2013 and 2017 (The Washington Post).

Latin America: Venezuela. Since September of last year, and in the midst of secrecy, Colombia, the Venezuelan opposition and several governments developed the plan that today has Nicolás Maduro with one foot outside of Miraflores (El Espectador / Colombia). The US government has already begun sending humanitarian aid packages to Venezuela with food and medicines in defiance of Nicolás Maduro’s refusal. The United States has ready more than 20 million dollars in assistance for Venezuelans. “Following the request of interim president Juan Guaidó, and in consultation with its officials, the United States will mobilize and transport humanitarian aid, surgical supplies and nutritional supplements for the people of Venezuela, it is time for Maduro to get out of the way,” tweeted on Friday night John Bolton, National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump (Diario Las Americas). According to Diego Area, associate director of the Atlantic Council for the Venezuelan case, Colombia’s role will be fundamental in the next 30 days. “The message is clear: Maduro, given the serious humanitarian situation that led to his country, let help come in. If he accepts it, he is accepting the failure of his policy” (EL Espectador / Colombia).  “At the time I decided that ‘no’ [I would meet with Maduro], since so many horrible things were happening in Venezuela, so I think the process is only going on, with very big and tremendous protests,” Trump explained. Face the Nation program, to a question from journalist Margaret Brennan (Infobae). In a video circulating on social media Saturday morning, an acting Venezuelan air force general, Francisco Yanez, denounced the “dictatorship” of Maduro and recognized opposition leader Guaidó’s claim as the nation’s legitimate interim leader. “90 percent of the armed forces are not with the dictator,” Yanez, in uniform, said in a video that he appeared to have filmed himself. “The transition to democracy is imminent”, said. Maduro has called for dialogue with the opposition, saying he is willing to meet Guaidó “wherever, whenever, he wants.” But the opposition, which has engaged in fruitless roundtables with the government before, has seen the offer as a ruse to buy time (The Washington Post). “The beast that is going to die defends itself tooth and nail and there is no doubt that the regime, now that it feels cornered and senses its end, can cause a lot of pain and shed even more innocent blood,” warned Mario Vargas Llosa in a published article this Sunday (El País/ Spain). The Group of Lima celebrates this Monday (February 4, 2019) an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis in Venezuela and discuss how to support Juan Guaidó, head of the Venezuelan Parliament. The Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, justified the call of the group because “this crisis represents a huge security, humanitarian and economic problem for the continent.” Freeland compared the situation with what happened in Syria (EFE/El Comercio de Ecuador). The United Kingdom, Spain and France announced Monday that they recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president (CNN).

Companies: Amazon fell into bear market territory on Friday and dropped below $800 billion in market value. Shares fell 5.4 % Friday after the company announced on a call with investors Thursday that it would likely increase investment in 2019 and raised concerns about new regulation in India (CNBC). Goldman Sachs said it could withhold some pay from top executives as a result of an ongoing criminal probe of a Malaysian investment fund. That could cost former CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and other top executives millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of an investigation into a Malaysian investment fund called 1MDB. Goldman had helped raise $6.5 billion for the fund in 2012 and 2013 , but now faces charges by the Malaysian government, which claims assets were plundered from the fund. Goldman has said it was the victim of deceptive Malaysian officials (CNBC). Papa John’s International, the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company, is pursuing the sale of a stake in itself after acquisition offers it received from private equity firms did not meet its valuation expectations, people familiar with the matter said on Friday (CNBC). Visa this week extended its sponsorship of the NFL through 2025. The deal keeps Visa as the “official payment services partner” of the league and comes with various perks for Visa cardholders (Yahoo! Finance). Apple on Friday apologized for a massive FaceTime flaw that allowed folks to eavesdrop on other people. It said a fix that will re-enable group FaceTime is now scheduled to be released next week. Apple credited the family of a 14-year-old boy who helped discover the bug and report it to Apple, though the company didn’t appear to react immediately to his report (CNBC).

Miscellanies: The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions, winning Super Bowl LIII 13-3 (Against Los Angeles Ram) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta — and launching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick into a different stratosphere. They have now won six Super Bowls together, extending their record for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination. With the win, the Patriots are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles in NFL history (CNN).

TDR: Last update: Monday, February 4th, 2019, 06:15 AM.

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Karen Blanco

Karen Blanco

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