American-Made Index details to what degree different models from different automakers are actually made in the U.S. The winner in the 2009 AMI is the Toyota Camry, which is built in Kentucky and Indiana. However, the other side of the made-in-America debate has to do with where the profits from each car sold actually go. Basically, Toyota’s headquarters and much of its R&D is done in Japan, so buying a Camry may help employ someone in Kentucky but it also helps people employed in Toyota City.
CNNMoney.com took up this second part of the debate and interviewed an economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to see if the profits going overseas outweigh the benefits of U.S. employment. The result isn’t as cut and dry as our AMI, of course, but it seems the short-term benefits lie where the cars are built and long-term benefits boost the company’s hometown.