The developed countries with the greatest exposure to the automotive sector are Japan and Germany. This is based on exposure as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Both countries have globally recognized brands that have manufacturing facilities all over the world. These brands are lauded for their quality and value. Weakness in the Japanese yen and the euro have contributed to sales offsetting global economic weakness, as these autos become cheaper on a relative basis for consumers in the United States and China.

In 2013, German automobile manufacturers produced 13 million vehicles, which is about 20% of total world production. The manufacturing and sales of these vehicles created economic activity of 361 billion euros. Total German GDP in 2013 was 2.7 trillion euros, so the automotive industry had a 13% share of the German economy.

Germany is a massive exporter, one of the few developed countries to run deficit surpluses. Since the Great Recession, exports have continued to grow despite the weak global economic recovery. Part of this has to do with the desirability of German exports and partly due to the weak euro.

More than six years after the bottom, policymakers in the European Union continue to engage in aggressive monetary policy to stabilize and stimulate the economy. This mainly comes in the form of asset purchases of government securities that push down interest rates and weaken the currency.

Automobiles are one of the country's largest source of exports, so they have certainly benefited from these efforts. The 35% drop in the euro from 2009 to 2015 led to increased profits for German companies; their revenues come in appreciating currency, while most of their expenses are in euros, which are dropping in value.

Japan is comparable, as its automotive industry has economic activity of $400 billion compared to a total GDP of $4.3 trillion. This is just under 10% of its total economy, as it produces around 10 million cars a year. Like Germany, the Japanese government and central bank have been aggressive in staving off deflation and stimulating its moribund economy.

The country has been the most aggressive on the monetary front with liquidity injections into bond markets and stock markets in addition to fiscal stimulus. Since the bottom of the Great Recession in March 2009, the Japanese yen has dropped 30% in value to the U.S. dollar. This has stimulated automobile exports to the U.S. and China, as auto sales have gained by a similar amount over that time.

So far, these efforts by policymakers in these countries have not come under serious scrutiny, but that may change as growth in the global auto industry slows. For the last century, the total number of auto sales has expanded as new markets opened up. All major markets have been entered by automakers, and the pie is no longer growing as fast. Due to improvements in quality, automobiles have longer road life, which depresses sales on a long term trajectory.

Going forward, growth for automakers will come at the expense of other automakers. Government policy that affects currencies will matter more in a competitive environment, especially in countries such as Germany and Japan where the auto industry is a major component.

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