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Doing Business : Car Salesman's Nightmare: The Day the Buying Stopped : How do you stay in business when hyperinflation puts your product out of reach? Ask GM's man in Brazil.

May 08, 1990|WILLIAM R. LONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"It really worked," said Stone. "Buy it now, because you know it's going to be more expensive in one more month. So it's kind of a psychology that actually worked in our favor."

The inflation played havoc with accounting, however. To receive government authorization for price increases, companies had to verify costs, but those were rising so fast that it was almost impossible to keep track of them accurately, Stone said. "It was very scary. It's like when we used to think when planes would hit the sound barrier, what would happen, would they blow up?"

Stone, who previously was president of GM's Mexican subsidiary and vice president for materials management in Detroit, has held his current position for three years. He and his wife, Carley, live in Chacara Flora, a luxury suburb of Sao Paulo. He also has a farm about 75 minutes from the city. "So I head there for the weekends when I don't play golf with some of my compatriots."

Stone said he sometimes misses the more stable business conditions of the United States--and even the days in Brazil when hyperinflation was the worst he had to cope with.

"I'd give anything to be back where we were two months ago."

Brazilian Automobile Sales

Factory sales of passenger cars. Total 1988: 557,729 Total 1989: 566,966

Source: Ward's Communications, Inc.

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