Can July's autosales predict a recovery?

Posted by: Jessica Silver-Greenberg on August 06

In these unusually gloomy times, everyone seems to be searching for any indication that the U.S. economy is finally on the rebound. Obviously, there are many indicators, we cling to as sign posts, on the road to financial salvation. July auto sales could be one of those indicators that things are picking up.

Car purchases went up in July as Americans snatched up 995,00 light vehicles in July. That’s a 16 percent increase from the month before. Americans increased their consumption of domestic cards, up 20.1 percent from the month before, according to wardsauto.com.

And while I am more than happy to pronounce economic recovery, there is a program which potentially undermines that gleeful proclamation—the Cash for Clunkers program. Under the program which Democrats unveiled to much fan-fare offers drives up to $4,500 to switch that old-gas guzzler for a newer car with better fuel standards. Motorists rapidly depleted the initial $1 billion in funding for the exchange program So even though auto sales are up, it may have less to do with more personal spending, and a lot more to do with this government program. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

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BusinessWeek's Adrienne Carter, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and David Henry deconstruct the mysteries of high finance, Wall Street, and hedge funds for pros and ordinary investors. E-mail them directly if you've got tips about big deals, a hedge fund, or even securities industry gossip.

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