The Toyota Stimulus

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If you’re worried that the federal stimulus to the economy is not reaching people fast enough, take heart from the latest announcements by Toyota. Now that the automaker has found a fix for its sticky accelerator-pedal problem, it’s going to quickly start sending   mini repair kits to its dealers around the world. The estimated time for a dealer to install the repair is 30 minutes—repairs are to start happening within the week. If you take the 4.1 million cars that need the fix and multiply that by 30 minutes, you arrive at a pretty meaningful jolt to employment: It will take more than 2 million work hours, the equivalent of 234 years, to install the fix in all 4.1 million cars.

Now, not all the Toyota money is going to be spent in the U.S., but offsetting that is the fact that the number of cars getting the fix could be much larger than 4.1 million. Toyota has recalled more than 8 million cars so far with problems relating to unintended acceleration, and about 6 million of those cars are in the U.S.

Further, there’s a second Toyota stimulus coming. In addition to the expensive mechanical fix Toyota also faces a huge dollar outlay for brand-image repair—that is, advertising to reacquaint consumers with Toyota’s long history of enviable quality.

So if you are currently out of work and are good with your hands, truck on down to your nearest Toyota dealer and pitch your talents. Similarly, if you’re in any corner of the depressed advertising business, now is the time to be dreaming up spiffy ideas on how Toyota can repair its image.

All this may be bad news for Toyota shareholders, but it’s a speedy shot of stimulus for the rest of us.