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Carmageddon Update From Mickey Kaus

One of the greats of the blogging world, Mickey Kaus, warns that a factory explosion in Germany could bring the world’s automobile industry to its knees. The explosion in Germany killed two people, and knocked out a factory that makes Cyclododecatriene.

Why should you care? Cyclododecatriene is a key ingredient in the chemical used to make a resin needed for a range of vital car parts like brake and fuel line coatings. Shortages could interrupt production at factories around the world. With the global economy so fragile, this is not a time that the automobile industry needs any trouble.

Kaus points out that the factory would have been an ideal terrorism target, and the reality is that the world’s supply chains are much more vulnerable to a variety of interruptions than many of us fully grasp. Floods in Bangkok, tsunamis in Japan, political unrest in China, terrorism: there are lots of things out there that could disrupt the relatively free flows of people, goods and money that define our world today.


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  • Anthony

    “…and the reality is that the world’s supply chains are much more vulnerable to a variety of interruptions than many of us fully grasp.” The aforementioned WRM reads like distillation of globalization; the reality is that all parts of the world are now linked through trade, investment, and production networks – i.e. factories in Germany that make cyclododecatriene. We have a far more intensive set of economic interconnections than general public knows.

  • vanderleun

    With all due respect, Prof Mead and our rollicking sidekick Mickey Kaus need to get off the web cam and out more. Perhaps to an economic miracle mile nearby wherever they may live or work. I take the point about the ever fragile web of connections in today’s globalized world but I also note that given current inventories of new and used vehicles we shall hardly be thrown into an overnight crisis…. unless we count not being able to get a brand-new Beemer or even a brand-new Prius at the time we want. I also note that there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of unowned and for sale used vehicles washing about the world.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @vanderleun: Actually, this isn’t about buying a car. It’s about employment in car factories where production lines would have to shut down if a key component became unavailable. This would also not be good for the finances of a number of stressed auto companies.

  • Luke Lea

    Surely there is more than one supplier?

  • Lorenz Gude

    While I think that our modern industrial system can have surprising vulnerabilities, I find it hard to swallow that one explosion killing two in one factory can have much long term effect. Recall that this sort of strategic thinking was rigorously applied to German ball bearing factories and refineries in WW2 and the Germans and their ball bearings survived a fair number of explosions. Ones that generally killed more than two people. Short term I agree it could have an effect, but I notice that HDD drive prices are back down after about a year. And yes the automotive industry is extra vulnerable right now.

  • Bob

    Gosh, now with WRM’s incisively insightful highlighting of Micky faux-Democrat Kaus’s brilliant reporting, perhaps the German industrial giants will see the house of cards that their industry has become. But will they pay attention? If they do not pay attention to Mickey, then we are all doomed!

  • Mrs. Davis


    Sure there’s more than one supplier. Here’s what they have to say:

    Ube Industries Ltd. (4208), Asia’s largest producer of the PA-12 resin used in cars, said order inquiries have risen after a factory explosion at Germany’s Evonik Industries AG raised concern about a shortage.

    “We’ve received some requests from customers for more PA-12 production, but there is no room for us to produce more because we are already running at full capacity,” Koji Sumiyoshi, a spokesman at Yamaguchi, Japan-based Ube (4208), said in an interview today. “A shortage of supply will happen.”

    Evonik accounts for about 50 percent of the world’s CDT production, Ube’s Sumiyoshi said. The PA-11 resin can be used as a partial substitute for PA-12, Sumiyoshi said.

    Prices will rise, substitutes will be found, others will be gin to make it. Life will go on.

    As our technology becomes more complex and specialized, fewer and fewer people know more and more about more and more narrow fields of knowledge, so that the loss of any of them has a significant immediate impact. That’s why we can’t mount a project to go to the moon again. Nobody knows how to use a slide rule.

  • Corlyss

    Well, if the German’s response to the nuclear meltdown in Japan last year is any indicator, they will voluntarily stop making the product because its . . . um . . . scary if not used IAW guidelines.

    Nanny states don’t like things that might go boom. Not consistent with their desire to remove all dangers and bumps from human existence.

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