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Daniel Howes

Contributor

Daniel Howes is columnist and associate business editor of The Detroit News. A former European correspondent for The News, he has reported from nearly 25 countries on three continents and in the Middle East. Before heading to Europe in 1999, Howes was senior automotive writer and a business projects writer. He is a frequent contributor to NewsTalk 760-WJR in Detroit and a weekly contributor to Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor.

Howes is winner of multiple International Wheel Awards for column writing; a four-time winner of Northwestern University’s Medill award for general markets coverage; three-time winner for commentary from the Society of Business Editors and Writers; and a three-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Awards, including an honorable mention for commentary in 2007.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from The College of Wooster in Ohio, and a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Remember Foxconn Technology Group?

It was eyeing an investment in Michigan to the tune of $10 billion, but it ended up in Wisconsin. And it turns out that may be a good thing.

The Taiwan-based contract manufacturer now is reversing its promise to employ thousands of blue-collar workers making liquid-crystal displays outside Milwaukee.

President Donald Trump touted the deal nearly two years ago at the White House, on Twitter and in remarks calling it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Washington’s dysfunction is weighing on the auto industry. The Trump administration was supposed to be Detroit’s best friend in a couple of generations. The president was supposed to understand the industrial Midwest, if only because its voters delivered him to the White House and his team would enact policies the industry purportedly would like.

It’s not working out that way.

Michigan State University sign
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

It didn’t take long.

Just a few weeks after Democrats gained a 6-2 majority on Michigan State’s board of trustees, interim President John Engler is out. Exactly what you’d expect for the former Republican governor … especially after he handed his overseers yet one more rhetorical club to wield against him.

Namely, his own words.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Thirty years after the Detroit’s auto dealers rebranded its hometown auto show as “international,” the era is over.

No more tramping through the snow braving biting winds listening to complaints about coming to the Motor City in January. After this year, the North American International Auto Show will take place June and it’ll be reimagined around hands-on experience and advanced technology.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Happy New Year, folks. Detroit’s three automakers are heading for their most tumultuous year since two of them emerged from bankruptcy a decade ago.

Expect confrontation and radical change. The auto bosses charged with navigating their industry’s greatest transformation since Henry Ford’s moving assembly line are set for a clash with the industry’s paternalistic tradition, and its implied obligation to, quote, “the people.”

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Less than two weeks from now, Rick Snyder will be just another former Michigan governor.

He says he’ll return to a vague future that could include advising start-ups and doing a little teaching at his alma mater in Ann Arbor. From there, he’ll have a front-row seat to watch his successor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, and her allies try to overturn the worst aspects of his tenure as they see them, anyway.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It must be good to be Dr. Eden Wells. She’s Michigan’s chief medical executive.

Just days before a judge ordered her to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis, she got a new government gig. The job is newly created and posted for all of six days, and get this, she was the only applicant.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

With apologies to Mark Twain, reports heralding the death of auto production in Detroit are exaggerated.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Amazon.com announced the winners of its HQ2 sweepstakes. In case you missed it, the winners are... wait for it... New York and suburban Washington.

What a surprise.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

On the campaign trail, Governor-elect Whitmer promised she’d repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, kill the so-called “retirement tax,” and revive the state’s Prevailing Wage Law.

All she’d need to make that happen is a Legislature controlled by her fellow Democrats. That ain’t happening because voters this week delivered divided government to Michigan. That dreamy, organized-labor wish list has pretty much no chance with Republicans controlling the state House and the Senate.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

To hear the two candidates for governor on the campaign trail, Michigan’s either finishing another “Lost Decade” or it’s poised for another one.

Couldn’t be further from the truth. Simple fact: whatever you think of Rick Snyder and his eight years as governor, his successor’s gonna inherit the best economy in at least 30 years. Jobs up. Per capita income up. Foreign investment rising. Unemployment down and plumbing record lows.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The stock market’s tanking, thanks to rising rates and an aimless trade war with China.

But two American automakers battling their own separate demons are making real money. And they’re getting decidedly different reactions on Wall Street -- which tells you a little something about Detroit you might not want to hear.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Judging by conventional wisdom and all-knowing polls, President Donald Trump and his Republicans face a historic wipeout in the coming mid-term elections.

But if you accept the Clintonian notion that “it’s the economy, stupid” such thinking may be just a bit too conventional.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Judging by the stock market this week, you’d think the economy’s in the dumps, unemployment is up, and corporate profits are down.

But you’d be wrong. Just the opposite, actually.

No, the proximate cause for the hand-wringing on Wall Street is the realization that the good times of almost-free money and steadily rising stock prices really can't go on forever. And that President Donald Trump’s trade battling with China really isn’t helpful.

The response: sell, sell, sell for some, anyway.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

You’d think eight years of economic growth declining unemployment … and the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history would be the makings of a “new” Michigan. You know, one unhitched from its contentious, anti-business past.

You’d be wrong, no matter what Republicans and the Detroit revival crowd say. From the Democratic nominee for governor and the Detroit City Council to labor unions and neighborhood group’s markers of Old Detroit are resurfacing.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Detroit lost a giant this week: the diminutive David DiChiera died at 83. He founded Michigan Opera Theatre just a few short years after the ’67 riots, prompting friends to question his sanity.

He envisioned transforming a decrepit Roaring Twenties movie theater into a European-style opera house long before Comerica Park or Ford Field became reality near Madison Avenue.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

What do you get when you combine Detroit Public Schools, the Kresge Foundation and the University of Michigan?

Answer: A place called Hope.

Nearly two years after Detroit’s Marygrove College faced financial collapse, the tiny school is opening a new chapter, thanks to some of the region’s biggest players. And the Detroit Public Schools Community District gets a chance to prove its mettle under new leadership.

This isn't good

Sep 8, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Out in flyover country, football season’s here again. The Spartans are up, the Maize and Blue is stumbling, and the spectacle in Washington is morphing from absurd to surreal.

That’s what you get with a drama queen as president a news media stretching the creed of its own business and the rest of official Washington standing aside, helpless agog or both.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Blue Oval is stuck in neutral. Again.

Just a few years after superstar CEO Alan Mulally retired and left town, Ford Motor is embarking on another 25 billion dollar restructuring. If you think this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is.

What happened?

Ford’s second largest business – China – is in free-fall.

South America remains a money loser.

Its European business -- just a couple of years ago hailed for its turnaround -- is losing steam.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Governor Rick Snyder’s been the de facto head of Michigan’s Republicans for eight years, but he won’t be at the GOP convention this weekend.

His people say it’s a scheduling conflict. I say that’s baloney. He’s making a statement. And it’s aimed squarely at Attorney General Bill Schuette: “You’re on your own.”

Tesla Tweets Trouble

Aug 18, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Tesla CEO Elon Musk needs a timeout.

Big-league auto industry pressure is getting to the, quote, “visionary” hailed by tech fan boys and true believers. You don’t need to take my word for it. Look at his Twitter feed. Less than two weeks ago, he rips one off saying that he’s thinking about taking the electric-car maker private. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Chrysler and its storied American brands live today because ol’ Sergio Marchionne – a poker player – gambled and won.

As Detroit’s number three automaker slumped toward bankruptcy, the CEO of Italy’s Fiat bet he could combine the weakest players in Europe and the United States to forge a global contender. One that could generate fatter profits and carry less debt.

The new Obama administration relented. So an Italian schooled in Canada got control of Chrysler for essentially nothing  arguably the shrewdest acquisition the global auto industry has seen in a generation.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

One of the biggest things to hit Detroit since the moving assembly line marked its fifth anniversary this week. That’s when the Motor City became the largest municipality in American history to declare bankruptcy.

Just weeks before, a union official said, quote: “It’s war.” But the financial restructuring that helped deliver four balanced budgets, drew three credit upgrades, improved delivery of basic city services, and attracted billions in private-sector investment turned out to be anything but.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s not news that Flint has been struggling to get clean water into its homes and businesses, except maybe to Elon Musk.

He’s the visionary behind PayPal, Space X and Tesla. This week Musk tweeted he’s ready to deliver fresh water to the city. But the offer that has Flint officials wondering what, if anything, is next … looks awfully transparent to faithful Musk watchers. Same for people who know just what happened to the city and what it will take to fix it.

Mark Edwards is the Virginia Tech researcher who helped identify the scale of Flint’s problem. He told The Detroit News that Musk should be, quote, “more focused on meeting” his Model 3 production goals.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

By this time, the long-running auto boom was supposed to be coming to an end.

Quick, someone tell that to the truck and SUV buyers who powered the annual selling rate last month to 17.5 million vehicles. That’s according to a Morgan Stanley estimate. If that’s evidence of a slowdown, Detroit and its foreign-owned rivals would like more of the same, please.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The automakers found their proverbial spines this week. After months of President Donald Trump’s haranguing about tariffs on finished vehicles and auto parts, the industry presented the country with a bill. Realizing the president’s protectionist dream would not come cheaply. The average cost of a vehicle would increase $5,800, says the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

daniel howes
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

After months in the making, Ford Motor’s play for the Michigan Central Depot is official. Let the grousing begin.

It will start in the suburbs, from the generation that came of age during the urban unrest of the late 1960s, witnessed the controversies and power-shifting of the 1970s, and watched during the 1980s and ‘90s as capital and jobs fled Detroit for the suburbs.

Ford's Corktown Play

Jun 16, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Ford Motor is planning a big party on Tuesday. It’ll be at the Michigan Central Depot, that gap-toothed hulk looming over Detroit empty and rotting for thirty years.

But not anymore, once Ford’s plans for what it’s calling a campus in Corktown become more clear.

Here’s what you need to know: Detroit’s oldest neighborhood could be transformed by Ford’s plans. The automaker wants to anchor its next-generation mobility, autonomy and electrification work in the 105-year-old train station.

This is huge, people. Detroit hasn’t seen a business move this big in eight years. That’s when Dan Gilbert moved his Quicken Loans headquarters to the city and followed with a downtown real estate buying spree.

This may be even bigger because it’s eight years later. Because Quicken blossomed into a major corporate presence downtown. Because Ford’s presence is likely to turbo-charge redevelopment of a neighborhood … and set the example for more.

daniel howes
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Three thousand delegates and members of the United Auto Workers will descend on Detroit next week for their Constitutional Convention.

They’ll hear happy talk about organizing gains, three years of fiscal discipline and fiery rhetoric, because that’s what these sessions are for. Fire up the membership in advance of next year’s bargaining with the Detroit automakers and others.

It’s what the folks leading today’s UAW won’t be talking about that matters. The union’s three joint-training centers funded by the Detroit Three remain under a federal corruption investigation.

daniel howes
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The race to replace Governor Rick Snyder is on.

Here on Mackinac Island this week, we learned from a gubernatorial debate: That Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is a mom. She’ll “Fix the Damn Roads.” And she has a “backbone of titanium.” Just ask her.

Republican Pat Colbeck has Michigan’s roads disaster all figured out. He’d order “a complete review” of the state’s road-building process and upgrade them to higher standards – all without raising taxes. Right.

Democrat Abdul El-Sayed would dismantle the “Betsy DeVos agenda” for Michigan’s public schools and “end this profit motive in our schools.” And every student coming from a household making $150,000 or less should graduate from college debt-free. How and who’s paying the tab he didn’t say.

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