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Premium car maker Jaguar Land Rover today announced a £240m investment in Brazil to set up a new manufacturing plant there. The new facility will be based in the city of Itatiaia in Rio de Janeiro state.
The latter has been negotiating with JLR since the start of this year, with a package of tax breaks and fiscal incentives likely to be on offer to help lure the JLR investment.
Households are pulling money out of their savings accounts at the fastest rate in recent times, according to recent Bank of England figures. It is perhaps the most telling sign yet that Brits are paying for the rising cost of living by raiding their piggy banks.
Over the last year, families have withdrawn £23bn from their long-term savings accounts to convert into cash and also put into current accounts - that's around £900 for every household in the country.
Analysis of the Bank's figures by Sky News shows that in the year to October, the amount of cash in notice deposit accounts and cash ISAs fell by 4.7%, while the amount families have in their instant access current accounts or in cash rose by 11.2%, or £71bn.
'Reshoring' manufacturing has been a recurring theme in this blog over the last year or so. My own take on things, based on survey work we have done with SGH Martineau, is that reshoring really is happening but on a smaller scale than many have claimed, with around one in six firms actually doing it, driven by concerns over costs, quality and turnaround (or lead) times (see here for a recent blog on this).
And now a new study, by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), has just come to very similar findings. It too finds that around one in six UK manufacturers have brought production back from overseas during the past year or is in the process of doing so.
This is develops the argument in my current Birmingham Post column on how we need to make the most of HS2 for wider regional regeneration. For more on this, buy this week's Birmingham Post...
So far I've been fairly agnostic about High Speed Rail (HSR), probably because I think both the benefits and downsides have been overstated. But the case for HSR now seems to have shifted onto its possible role in boosting regional regeneration in the West Midlands.
On this, as the leading planner Sir Peter Hall noted recently, the debate boils down to two key issues critical to our future prosperity. The first is whether, by bringing the Midlands and North closer to the global economic powerhouse of London, it can transform economic prospects in the regions.
Second is how those benefits will be distributed across regions such as the West Midlands: that is, whether the benefits will be concentrated in a few core cities (think Birmingham), or will be spread across the wider region (such as to Coventry, Stafford, Stoke or Worcester)? Or as Sir Peter put it, whether HS2 will 'irrigate' the wider region, or turn parts of it into a desert?
Carlos Ghosn, the head of Renault Nissan, recently said that Nissan will 'reconsider' its investment in the UK if we leave the European Union. Actually he said that "if anything has to change, we need to reconsider our strategy and our investments for the future."
Firms do this all the time. And building Nissans, or Hondas, or Toyotas, or any other car here isn't a 'given' anyway as plants of multinationals are ultimately footloose. Sadly we know that all too well from experience with Peugeot locally, which shifted assembly over to central and Eastern Europe in search of lower labour costs.
Big multinationals like the EU as it makes life easier for them. So when Ghosn says Nissan would 'reconsider' its position in the UK, he's basically saying 'stay in to make life easier for us'.
Auto giant Toyota - which has a large plant not far away in Burnaston - last week raised its annual profit forecast for 2013-14, bringing it close to pre-crash records, with the firm's figures boosted by a weaker Yen and healthy sales in a resurgent US market.
Toyota now forecasts a net profit for the year ending March 2014 of £10.5bn (1.67 trillion Yen), up from a previous forecast of £9.3bn (1.48 trillion Yen). If achieved, this would be just below the firm's highest net profit recorded, back in 2008. The results are in contrast with Nissan which cut its profit outlook just a few weeks ago.
It's been no secret that PSA Peugeot Citroen - Europe's second biggest carmaker after Volkswagen - has been on the lookout for a partner for some time. It has been one the firms in the 'squeezed middle' most badly affected by the collapse in the European car market and desperately needs to raise funds.
And with talks progressing - albeit slowly - with a Chinese firm over a possible stake, the French government is thinking of chipping in so as to take a stake in what it sees as a 'strategic' firm.
Gaydon-based Aston Martin, purveyors of sports cars to the rich and cool (as well as a certain James Bond), posted a pre-tax loss of almost £25m for the year ended December 2012, up from a £21m loss the previous year.
Sales were down by 9% to £460m. The company chose not to pay a dividend to shareholders, despite paying out £30m to investors a year earlier. Accounts filed at Companies House attribute the widening loss to the "market segment (that) has been severely affected by recession", highlighting "weakness in European markets and vehicle launches occurring in the fourth quarter".
'Reshoring' or 'Onshoring' or manufacturing repatriation has been a recurring theme in my Birmingham Post blogs over the last year or so. There have been a number of reports looking at what firms intend to do as regards reshoring or onshoring (to read an excellent report by Business Birmingham click here). Despite this, there has been little in the way of hard data on what's actually happening.
That's why a new report by SGH Martineau entitled 'Bringing Manufacturing Back' undertaken with myself and Dr Lisa De Propris at the Birmingham Business School survey is so interesting. The survey had 80 responses and so may not be large enough to be properly rigorous in a scientific sense, but the findings are nevertheless interesting in raising issues of possible importance and point to the need for further research (as academics like to say...)
The British economy is thankfully on the up. But that doesn't mean George Osborne was right in arguing that 'Plan A' is working. Rather, the performance of the British economy since Osborne became Chancellor back in May 2010 has been pretty dire. The economy has grown by just 2.2% since then. And remember that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reckoned that the economy would have grown by over 8% by now. Some record.
In fact, this is the slowest recovery ever. The UK's GDP is still over 3% below where it was back in 2008. It is correct to say that the labour market has performed better than many expected (myself included). That's because firms have hoarded labour and productivity has dipped - not really something for Osborne to write home about.