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30th Annual Automotive Insights Symposium

This and other transcripts on this site have been provided by a third-party service. The video replay should be considered the definitive record of the event.

RICK MATTOON: Good morning. My name is Rick Mattoon. I'm the vice president for Regional Analysis and Engagement in the Detroit Regional Executive here at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It's my pleasure to welcome you to today's 30th Annual Automotive Insights Symposium. This year's program features presentations on issues ranging from implications of last year's UAW Detroit 3 Labor Agreement to how auto producers and suppliers continue to navigate the transition of the industry to greater emphasis on electric vehicle production.

Additionally, you will learn about how the role of foreign trade is playing in supply chains for critical minerals, batteries, and EV components. And of course, you'll hear from an expert panel on a forecast for what next year holds for production and supply in the auto industry. It promises to be a fascinating two days. In trying to pin down a theme for today's program, I have the advantage of having my office located next door to Kristin Dziczek.

To be honest, my expertise in the auto industry relative to Kristin is about the same as a kindergartener relative to a Nobel Prize winner. So therefore, I listen very carefully when Kristin gives me advice on something. One of the things that I have to say is that the first thing that comes to mind is on the surface, things look pretty sanguine. There's sort of a theme that's going on that maybe 2024 is a return to a more normal behavior in terms of how the industry should perform.

If you look on the one hand, we have a situation where supply chain disruptions seem to be somewhat improving. We have a situation where the labor contracts are now in the rear view mirror. And we're looking at macroeconomic conditions that look fairly stable for the coming year. So in all of those sorts of ways, it looks like a return to more normalcy is sort of a possibility.

However, as I'm sure all the people who are in this room well understand, underneath the surface, there's a lot of uncertainty. And one of the things that the industry is dealing with is a continuing theme of volatility when it comes to dealing with issues on a day-to-day basis. When you look at adjustments that are occurring in production levels, the ability to have to pivot quickly to match where demand is at this point, new forecasts for what ultimately EV supply is going to look like, all of these things are suggesting a very volatile environment in which people are having to make very rapid adjustments to changing conditions.

If I want to describe this in sort of a picture sort of way, I think of this as kind of like a duck on the water. So to a certain degree, the duck is moving in a very straight and very normal of direction, things look pretty good. But underneath the water, his feet are paddling wildly. And I think that's an environment that a lot of people are dealing with right at this point.

So I think that when we think about these sorts of issues, I think that what we have to think about is, how does the industry adapt in these certain conditions? And I think that's why today's subtopic and our subtitle for this particular program is particularly appropriate, which is, how will the US auto market evolve? And I think that's something that we're going to be very interested in hearing from our expert panels about.

Before I turn things over to Kristin to kick off today's program, I have a couple of housekeeping issues. First of all, we'll be taking questions both online and in person through our Pigeonhole system. In front of you is a QR code. You can scan the QR code on your phone and that will connect you to Pigeonhole. And those questions will be then transmitted to our moderators of each of our panels. We'll provide an opportunity for us to ask as many questions as we can as time allows.

So I think this is something, again, that we look forward to in terms of being able to engage as many people as possible and maximize our ability to understand the issues that are most important to you. Second, both the lunch and the reception today will be held in the atrium outside, which you came through on the way in. Bathrooms, as you can imagine, are located directly behind this. And there is signage to direct you there.

Also, I'd like to announce that for next year, we're planning on moving this program to February from January. This is for a couple of reasons. First of all, there's the Consumer Electronics Show, which is obviously a major hallmark event in January. Also, next year, the Auto Show is moving back to January here in Detroit. And we think that there's certain advantages to us to moving this to where it's a little bit less congestion in the calendar. And so I look forward to bringing you back next February when we have another opportunity to convene this event.

Finally, I really have to take the opportunity to hand out a number of thank-yous to many of the people who are working behind the scenes in this event. First of all, I want to recognize that it takes a small village to put on a marquee event such as this. And we're very lucky here at the Chicago Fed to have some extraordinary staff.

Everything from our extraordinary events staff, our facilities staff, public affairs group, and even our law enforcement unit, all the people who are supporting this particular program deserve particular attention and praise for what they've managed to pull off today. I also want to thank our exceptional group of moderators and speakers who are participating today. I know they will provide extraordinary insights. And I know that it will be something that we'll all be happy to have had their participation in today's program.

And of course, I really have to thank the mastermind behind today's program, which is Kristin Dziczek. In many ways, Kristin probably needs no introduction to most of the people in this room. But I have to say that Kristin really has an uncanny ability to identify the most important emerging and interesting topics in the industry and to bring those to our attention.

Kristin is an extraordinary resource for the bank, extraordinary resource for people who are working in the auto industry. And I have to say that probably when I retire, one of the things I'll probably be most recognized for is having to attract Kristin to work with us here at the Chicago Fed. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Kristin to the mic.

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