Iain Cameron's Diary
"Click here to access the Fruitful Album" - Click here to visit Music for the Highveld Project

The Highveld Project

Get your own
 diary at DiaryLand.com! contact me older entries

2004-05-13 - 5:39 a.m.

The second paper went off today which means that potentially we can invoice the client. The first paper seems to have gone down well. That would mean that I was more than half way to my target before the end of month 5. But the rest of the month will mean a lot of work – and its not clear whether we will get another contract to cover that. I set up a pathway from the SUMMIT for following two weeks and found a couple of dates for the scenario meetings. We started to plan the details of these events – who might be invited – what kind of process we might take them through. On the way we touched on some specifics – for example the way that Bosch works and some of the issue facing Ford.

Listening to R4 I hear someone now knighted who was involved in the last great Arms in Iraq affair. I have this paranoid sense that bring up my recollections in this connection does my attempt to secure various posts no good.

Laurence phoned and we started to discuss the emerging ideas about personal identity or the lack of it as it is currently being developed in a number of fields – I mentioned an article by Nick Totton which strays into this field. Part of this set of ideas is that as individuals we are inherently multiple and subject to conflicting forces. This means that well designed institutions should take this into account – that practical reasoning should allow for finely balanced motivations, aspirations and intentions. This is quite a powerful idea – and it has a classical precedent in Aristotle ‘ s attempt to explain weakness of will. For example where resolve to give up alcohol for Lent and the when we attend a champagne reception I have three glasses of the stuff despite my best intentions. That experience may be characteristically human – interesting whether robots might ever get into such scrapes. I remember Bernard Williams saying that he thought some animals do. Maybe there is a new pomo strand – not only fragmentation within societies but also within selves.

I am wondering whether to put a statistical annex into the latest paper – there are some MIT statistics which are very powerful and very up to date. Also some good Eurostats too. To some extent this is an old anxiety – a sense that material has to be overly supported with facts.

I tracked down some global trade stats. The value of trade in automotive products is around $62Obn but almost half of that comes from the European Community – both internal and external trade. The UK;s share is about 1O% which is in line with other metrics. The German share is about 4O% - that ratio is broadly in line with relative size of the workforces. In production terms global automotive usually breaks down into thirds – one third Europe , one third the Americas , one third Japan and Asia. In one sense it is no surprise that the EC countries should trade more with each other – a lot of effort has gone into creating conditions which promote that outcome. But there are also reasons – say using the model called Porter’s Diamond - to believe that this high level of cross border trade will promote efficiency – say to counter what is widely seen as the negative effect in enterprise terms of regulation for social purposes.

Another surprising fact is that about a half of all German RnD goes on automotive. My own view is that they can’t afford this. But they are obviously trying to compete with the US and Japan. My own view is that this is the path to disaster and they would be much better off trying to compete with the French who don’t try to secure the biggest global RnD spend but quietly spend what they can afford very effectively

I am getting more and more deeply locked into Box1 - it’s a piece want to busk to over and over again with different radical harmonic overlays. Its as if the presence of non pitched airsynth sounds licenses other more radical elements. My hope is that the gestural quality of the airsynth input gives the sounds a meaningful form.

Within the Uk I have raised some rather sharp issues. The peak year for sector value added was 1997 – the roaring 9Os before the pound-euro relationship caused difficulties. However the supply chain have pretty well maintained that peak level meaning that the people who assemble cars – the big foreign owned companies have taken the hit as market conditions worsen.

They have followed a general trend of increasing the percentage of the total value of the car that they buy in from suppliers – but as this process has increased they have not been able to reduce their labour costs fast enough. This is a recognised problem in the German industry – but I found evidence that the same has happened here. Indeed given the turbulence over the economic conditions, the spend on labour has been much too even over the last seven years.

The big question is whether the foreign investors will conclude that the returns in the Uk are just not good enough. In the last half of the 199Os foreign investors put £6bn into the Uk automotive industry. Generally that investment is very visible in terms of big car plants.

It is much less well known that Uk owned firms making the bits that go into cars invested the same amount overseas – globalisation works both ways. My suspicion is that this investment is more profitable than the investment coming into the country.

previous - next