October 20th, 2008
11:32 AM GMT
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OPPAMA, Japan – The town of Oppama is about as far away from Main Street, USA as you can get. Virtually nothing here resembles anything American, except for a lone McDonald's on the corner. But stop and talk to 78-year-old fish-shop owner Kohei Ishiwata and he'll wax poetic about the U.S. credit crunch.

Kohei Ishiwata waxes poetic about the U.S. credit crunch.
Kohei Ishiwata waxes poetic about the U.S. credit crunch.

"They made fake money out of thin air!" Ishiwata exclaims, inbetween slicing up thick chunks of fresh sushi.

Step next door to Yuji Fujita's vegetable shop and he'll teach you a thing or two about trickle down economics, Japan-style. "I hope the U.S. economy improves. They're a big influence for us," he says, his 20-month-old son sleeping in the corner of the grocery store that's been in the family for three generations.

The influence is everywhere on Oppama's main street, which relies on the robust appetite of Main Street, USA. Oppama is home to a major Nissan plant. It's the area's primary employer and every part of life here is connected to the automaker.

But automakers are taking a huge hit from the U.S. credit crunch and the global economic slowdown. U.S. consumers, the primary customers for Japan's auto industry, are buying fewer Japanese vehicles. Already inside the Nissan plant, workers tell us they're worried the ax could fall on their jobs at any moment.

But the Oppama businesses that live off the Nissan paychecks also worry about the secondary impact. Oppama fears it could pay in a general slowdown to its community's economy

The financial meltdown is undoubtedly a banking crisis and a market rollercoaster. But it's more than just tickers at the bottom of TV screens and money being moved around in central banks. It's a global problem being felt in neighborhoods around the world.

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Silas Nyambok

    You people from the developed countries you have one major problem. It is fear and excessive speculation. I'm a Kenyan currently based Tokyo and when I take walk along the streets, i meet people who are well fed. When i watch the crowd in American presidential rallies, i see people who are well fed. So what makes you think you are about to start starving in the next hour.

    Please, we are not about to start seeing families queueing for food relief in California or people fetching water in shallow wells in Florida. Have confidence and be strong. One West African proverb goes: A restless insect always finds rest in the gizzard of a bird. In other words someone could be taking advantage of this speculation to blow profits.

    October 20, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  2. forexthinker.com

    Japanese auto makers did very well when interest rates were low and the world economy was booming. Businesses do go through cycles; the severity of the downturn this time might be harsher than those in the past. Lets hope it will be less severe.

    October 20, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  3. Kent, Illinois

    Hey Nissan.............start making cars that get over 50 mpg or you will be facing what GM is facing right now. You have the technology, so use it..............

    October 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  4. JRQ la habra, Calif

    I huge Nissan plant fuel efficient plant right here in Orange County, California. With 3 shifts and paid vacations and watching Americans of all colors and genders go to and from work.

    Oh, PLEASE...your not seeing people 'queueing for food in California?"
    Good Grief, maybe CNN should do a special on Tent Cities in Southern California.....children living in parking lots and going to school. WAKE UP.

    Silas Nyambok get out of the office and talk to people and open your eyes.

    October 20, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  5. Shinika

    I am a military wife with a spouse currently deployed. Because of this economic crisis, I now work part time to supplement the income of my husband. We own a Corolla and have been leasing a vehicle through GMAC for 34 months. Although we have made all of our car payments on time for the past 3 years and was in great standing with GMAC, we were denied from an auto loan to purchase the vehicle. I now have to tell my husbad in Afghanistan that we were denied and that I have to quit working because of transportation when he returns home. The strangest thing is that GMAC will not give me an explanation as to why we were denied. This ecnomic crisis has affected so many military families who were already having a rough time making ends meet. The saddest thing is the fact that our families give so much and receive so little in return.

    October 20, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Mykhaylo, Ukraine, Kiev

    Hello, everybody!
    I live and work in Ukraine – not so wealthy country like the USA or Japan. But what we can see on our streets? lots of cars are driven only a driver. 90% of those cars are carriyng only one person!! Moreover, at least 30% of them are minivans, huge jeeps and so on. No nature will survive from such "modern comfortable" life. I think, no one will die if Nissan begins produsing less cars or those cars became smaller. At least, I want to believe, the sky will be cleaner.

    October 21, 2008 at 8:42 am |
  7. Shari

    Why nobody questions Sarah palin for having her kids all day, at these rallies?.They should be in school. I have checked, they are not in any home schooling. Which mother uses her kids for her own advantage? When I see her baby with the down'ssyndrome at these rallies, being passed around, with all the noise and the screamings,it breaks my heart. Please do something about it. I am a mother of three.
    Thanks, Shari

    October 21, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  8. Simone

    Automakers credit crunch is breakin' hearts. My relatives are continually traveling from Canada to Japan – back home again. You are seeing symphony of d-minor, business talk and especially chagrined men whispering "ring the changes" in Japan.

    Global economic slowdown began from U.S and spreading in speed of light to Japan and elsewhere. Nissan is seeing no intelligence business talks, while Japánese are wondering the rising sun of Nissan. Are we expecting the U.S upswing first ? Yes

    October 21, 2008 at 7:10 pm |
  9. Moje Ramos-Aquino

    Everybody seems to be focused on Wall Street and Main Street. What about Side Street and Back Street where most people are and need help with serious basic needs, e.g. food and water? They have no money to save Wall Street and no luxuries enjoyed by Main Street.

    October 22, 2008 at 3:58 am |
  10. Nicholas

    I've got an idea. Why don't we all just stop the doom and gloom for a couple of days? How about a couple of days of being positive? Maybe, just maybe then the panic might die down a bit and the business world could give itself a shake and start doing something about the mess. Think about it. Panic breeds panic. Positive breeds positive. It's got to be worth a try.

    October 23, 2008 at 12:14 am |
  11. captdd

    Hey wz.bak@hotmail.com, I also heard that when elephants fight, the locals just get out of the way...

    I wish Nissan would partner with Chrysler ASAP and "electricify" the other car manufacturers by bring out totalyy electric car for the masses, sort of a "Voltswagen" for two folks to drive.

    If Nissan doesn't come out with it then a Company in India or China will!

    ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM or should I say (suggest) ZAP, ZAP ZAP!

    October 23, 2008 at 4:25 am |
  12. nir

    Please excuse my ignorance but I do have a question:
    With all this talk about sell offs and "fire sales" of stocks the world over – Just WHO are the buyers???

    October 23, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  13. Elvis

    Actually this financial crisis is good for Americans!! Hopefully we see those overweight Americans slim down and drive a small cars for a change. Americans are way over the top on food, transportations, entertainments etcs. By cutting down on those things, the economy should sort itself out....

    October 23, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  14. Roshan

    In my recent visit to the interior of India, I saw all sorts of commutters, on the bullock cart, on riksha, on tanga and also the flood of cars all filling the same road. But beware fast pacers your days might be numbered may be in few years cars may stop rolling out of plants if this meltdown continues for some more time.

    October 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Robert

    Ol' Ishiwata is a real jokester. He should get a clue, and soon. On the one hand, he claims the U. S. "made fake money out of thin air", when his own Japanese government spent ALL of the 90's decade making bank loans at 0%! That, my friends, is akin to "fake money". The massive deflationary spiral in Japan was caused by a collapse in the speculative bubble in the Japanese commercial real estate market and exacerbated by Japan's central bank cutting rates to 0%. Well, Mr. Ishiwata, ever heard the old addage about the pot and the kettle?

    October 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Uma in Liverpool, UK

    @ Nicholas

    Go somewhere and get high. Stop interfering in our pity-party! Party-pooper.

    Positive breeds positive?

    Do you want to go to the Department of Work and Pensions, here in the UK, and have a word with them, about how Incapacity (Disability) Benefit, and Pensioners' Benefit (Social Security) isn't keeping up with inflation?

    Would you like to explain to them about how we would all feel much better, if we didn't have to choose between 'heat, or eat', this Winter?

    I'm sure they'd be ever so responsive to your big, positive, American, can-do attitude.

    Thanks for that positive sentiment, mate. I know I feel HEAPS better!

    October 24, 2008 at 1:51 am |
  17. Rick Ward

    This is a article I ran across one day and if we all could afford 1 just think how it would change our world, granted we would still use oil but less oil means more time to find a cure for man's addiction to oil.

    October 24, 2008 at 5:48 am |
  18. Roger Allen

    If possible I would like to see a re-airing of
    “The Culprits of the Collapse”. In this airing
    I would like the detailed breakdown of each member’s
    contribution to the collapse. Also to know when this would be shown.

    October 26, 2008 at 3:50 am |
  19. GEORGE

    You people make me laugh. Credit crunch? Financial crisis? My friends, wake up and smell the snickers. The game is rigged!
    The financial elite of the world is shuffling the cards and creating a "crisis" so they could leave people without houses by deflating the prices and also they want to lend money to countries without war, like they used to. Who determines the value of a company's share, the price of your home, the interest that they charge (rob ) you? And everyone believe the world is in a crisis, while in fact it's just a little game to make a little money!

    October 30, 2008 at 8:34 am |
  20. Bernie Yeater

    Well Said George, I was wondering when someone would follow the smell of the money trail. Your 401K has gone down 30% Where did the money go? The truth is loose monitary policy caused an illusion of wealth and inflated stocks and property by creating excessive demand. You bought the stocks and the money was given to the companies in the form of capital. Now that stocks are returning to what they are probably really worth, you now realize you paid too much for your stocks in your 401K, and for your home. Which you owe more then it is worth. Our founding fathers knew the evil of paper money and this is why they tied it to Gold and Silver in the constitution Artical 1 section 8 and 10. By creating a private government sponsored bank (federal reserve) this section of the constitution was skirted in the name of progress. But is it progress? Wouldn't you really rather know exactly what your dollar is worth? Are you tired of being robbed?

    November 2, 2008 at 4:54 am |
  21. L Pinto

    All this boils down to the medieval Serf system. Does anyone notice that every 3 to 4 generations, we have a major crisis or combination thereof?

    This is a simple method of wealth consolidation. The elite (formerly Kings, Nobles and Clergy) always NEED to control the wealth. For a few generations, they allow us, the tax payers (formerly knows as Serfs), to accumulate a little wealth and pass it on to the next generation to give them a better life than the current generation enjoyed. After 3 to 4 generations, this wealth becomes substantial. Therefore, they feel the need to strip the working class of these luxuries and put us all back in our place.

    Nothing has changed in the past two millennium, they have just defined the classes better, refined the system to make it more effective. Like cattle on a farm, each of us are assigned a number, to ensure that they get the maximum possible every year while giving us the illusion of independence and freedom.

    No government has the right to collect taxes. They may have the right to levy them, BUT NOT TO COLLECT IT. Look it up.

    When the Mafia collected protection and service money, it was called extortion and they were jailed. When the government does the same thing, it is called TAXES!!

    November 4, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  22. Gary

    Kent said.. "Hey Nissan………….start making cars that get over 50 mpg or you will be facing what GM is facing right now. You have the technology, so use it………….."
    That's the best answer I've heard. We have cars with "Sync" voice command and GPS and tire pressure sensors, but they still get the same milage as a 1929 Ford model T. Where's the advances in technology there? Why can a professor at The University of Calif, at Davis and his students create a Chevy Surban that gets 60 mpg and individual companies creat cars that get 200- 300 mpg equivalents but the "Big 3" can not seem to find thier rear with both hands? If we had Ford F-150 Hydraulic Hybrids (yep, Ford designed it and never put it into the showrooms) that got 60 mpg, we would all have much more money to spend. We don't need newly designed itty bitty cars to solve the problem – just apply the technology to what we have now.
    I for one don't want to drive a Smart For-two, but I sure would like to
    be able to buy an American car that gets the mileage of a Prius. Too bad Ford didn't just put the Escape Hybrid power train in the 2008
    Fusion and Mercury Milan – They would be buying GM right now.

    November 5, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  23. Cpaulino

    Weren't the emerging China, Brazil, Russia and India supposed to keep world economy going while the USA would sink to the fate of the Roman Empire? Oh you hypocrites!! Why are you crying for Americans to buy again and support your newly acquired Gucci economies? George is right. The whole thing is a game of upsmanship by America. It is time to eat up all those petrodollars. Let the Chinese and Arab sheiks suffer and eat up their Wall Street losses. Didn't they want to control those juicy stocks? Why is nobody complaining about the ridiculous phony Dubai empire? Has anyone seen their sand castles? How long can they keep this up without Americans driving those useless SUV's that block my view when I drive? I'm glad this whole world recession is happening. It's time to live with what you've got. I'm in Dominican Republic where the rich get richer and the poor end up in boats trying to reach America, the great. Here we have 20 hour blackouts while our miserable government claims GDP growth of 7%. Why don't we just become another state of the Union? Puerto Rico should do the same. Let America rise again, the country of opportunity. Who the hell wants to be led by Russia, China or Chavez? Has anyone seen a boat of refugees heading to the coast of Russia? Or Shangai? Where are all the Cuban refugees heading? Are they going to Iran? North Korea? I would like to see all U.S. aircraft carriers, ships and boats placed in the shores of all the enemies of the UNited States and allow them to take all who want to emigrate to America and see what happens. I bet many countries would again become wild jungles without population. Do not despair. Be it Obama or whoever, America is America. I shed no tears for Nissan, Toyota or BMW. Let them eat crow. Buy American!!

    November 6, 2008 at 12:39 pm |
  24. loren beal

    bailouts bailouts where were they when the american steel industry when down the tubes they all had the same problems the the american automotive industry has today 1 poor mgt. 2 greedy unions 3 poor quality products let them go bandrupt reorganize and come back healthy and nonunion ( they ave 35-40 dollars per hr.) many in this country would love to have job paying half union wages

    November 11, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
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    the auto loan that i got this year have a higher interest rate "

    November 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
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    July 7, 2011 at 8:29 am |
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    I consider, what is it — error.

    October 9, 2012 at 5:24 am |

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