Although today’s vehicle sales results are coming in generally better than expected, putting the current results together with recent historic trends should leave one with a less-than-bullish outlook for autos.
Looking at the Department of Commerce light vehicle sales series you can see that although sales appear to be on a tear recently, the latest results are comped on a year-over-year basis against the horrendously weak sales seen in early 2009.
Further, the trends for the better part of the last decade have been terrible for autos with sales, more or less, in a slow declining trend since 1999 and the current level of sales last seen way back in early 1983.
With the tightening consumer credit conditions, structurally high unemployment and a decade long disappointing sales trend, recent auto sales results offer an interesting data-point but essentially paints a picture of general weakness not economic strength.
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