Cash For Clunkers

Guest Post: Asleep At The Wheel

Americans have an illogical love affair with their vehicles. There are 209 million licensed drivers in the U.S. and 260 million vehicles. The U.S. has a higher number of motor vehicles per capita than every country in the world at 845 per 1,000 people. Germany has 540; Japan has 593; Britain has 525; and China has 37. The population of the United States has risen from 203 million in 1970 to 311 million today, an increase of 108 million in 42 years. Over this same time frame, the number of motor vehicles on our crumbling highways has grown by 150 million. This might explain why a country that has 4.5% of the world’s population consumes 22% of the world’s daily oil supply. This might also further explain the Iraq War, the Afghanistan occupation, the Libyan “intervention”, and the coming war with Iran. Automobiles have been a vital component in the financial Ponzi scheme that has passed for our economic system over the last thirty years. For most of the past thirty years annual vehicle sales have ranged between 15 million and 20 million, with only occasional drops below that level during recessions. They actually surged during the 2001-2002 recession as Americans dutifully obeyed their moron President and bought millions of monster SUVs, Hummers, and Silverado pickups with 0% financing from GM to defeat terrorism. Alan Greenspan provided the fuel, with ridiculously low interest rates. The Madison Avenue media maggots provided the transmission fluid by convincing millions of willfully ignorant Americans to buy or lease vehicles they couldn’t afford. And the financially clueless dupes pushed the pedal to the metal, until everyone went off the cliff in 2008.

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Is This Recovery?

Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.

Cash For Clunkers - ECB Style

Overnight, Peugeot, the struggling European car-maker, announced dismal results and significant over-capacity in Europe pushing its stocks down 6% (down almost 13% since last week). The somewhat unsurprising twist was that the CFO said they were approaching the ECB about collateralized loans. As Bloomberg notes:


So the ECB has now managed its other unintended consequence - to replace the entire bank intermediation credit creation channel (ring any bells?) as Europe embarks on its own 'Cash-for-Clunkers', ECB-Style.

Guest Post: Illusion Of Recovery - Feelings Versus Facts

The last week has offered an amusing display of the difference between the cheerleading corporate mainstream media, lying Wall Street shills and the critical thinking analysts. What passes for journalism at CNBC and the rest of the mainstream print and TV media is beyond laughable. Their America is all about feelings. Are we confident? Are we bullish? Are we optimistic about the future? America has turned into a giant confidence game. The governing elite spend their time spinning stories about recovery and manipulating public opinion so people will feel good and spend money. Facts are inconvenient to their storyline. The truth is for suckers. They know what is best for us and will tell us what to do and when to do it....  The drones at this government propaganda agency relentlessly massage the data until they achieve a happy ending. They use a birth/death model to create jobs out of thin air, later adjusting those phantom jobs away in a press release on a Friday night. They create new categories of Americans to pretend they aren’t really unemployed. They use more models to make adjustments for seasonality. Then they make massive one-time adjustments for the Census. Essentially, you can conclude that anything the BLS reports on a monthly basis is a wild ass guess, massaged to present the most optimistic view of the world. The government preferred unemployment rate of 8.3% is a terrible joke and the MSM dutifully spouts this drivel to a zombie-like public. If the governing elite were to report the truth, the public would realize we are in the midst of a 2nd Great Depression.

GM Channel Stuffing Resumes, January Dealer Inventory Second Highest Ever

Just as we thought GM's channel stuffing days may be coming to an end, and the company may finally be normalizing its inventory management, here come January numbers, where we learn that in addition to car sales declining by 6% compared to a year ago, at 167,962 vehicles sold (of note: "Retail deliveries declined 15 percent compared with the same month a year ago and accounted for 70 percent of GM sales"), it was the all critical month end dealer inventory that caught our attention. And unfortunately as the skeptics expected, GM is back to its old tricks, as dealer inventories rose once again, this time by over 36k units, or the second highest in its post-reorg history, to a near record 619,455 vehicles stored with dealers. This is just the second highest ever in fresh start GM history, second only to November's 623,666. The January-end number represents 89 days supply, but more importantly the recent spike in restocking, which was seen with all other major car dealers, explains the ongoing "expansion" in the US economy as measured by indices such as the ISM. Eventually, when the end demand for these dealer parked vehicles does not materialize, the New Orders so diligently tracked by economists everywhere will slip back under 50, but before that we are confident that the administration will come up with some new Cash for Clunkers plan to take demand from the future and to push it into the days leading into the election, probably funded once again by other taxpayers who don't quite see the fascination with owning a GM car.

Bad News For GM: As China's Own "Cash For Clunkers" Program Ends, Car Sales Come Far Below Expectations; BYD Sales Plunge

Two months ago we reported that the recently bailed out Unionized Carmaker, for whom China (where they apparently do not care about falling steering wheels) has become a market more important than even the US, had seen some jarring demand weakness, following a 10% drop in January sales. We now learn that GM was not only the beneficiary of last year's Cash For Clunkers program in the US, but has been the recipient of recent incentives offered in the domestic Chinese market. Alas those are now over, and as Bloomberg reports "China’s passenger-car sales grew in March at a pace that was below forecasts after incentives ended and fuel prices rose, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said." That's putting it mildly: for an economy in which a growth rate of 10% is considered stagnating, what happened in March was equivalent to a drubbing: "Dispatches of cars including multipurpose vehicles and sport-utility vehicles to dealerships rose 6.52 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 million units, the association said in a statement today. That pace was about one-tenth of the 63 percent sales increase reported in March of last year." Which brings us to the question of the day: how does one spell "short GM" in Mandarin? Yet the irony of the day award goes to Charlie Munger, who may or may not have been completely "open" with his purchase of BYD shares: BYD sales plunge in March by 41% (Y/Y). Suck it in, Charlie.

As Cash For Clunkers Trades Pile-Up at the Junk Yards, Meet "Cash For Appliances." You Asked For It? You Got It. Toyota!

When I wrote about the obvious "win-win situation" that was Cash for Clunkers this past summer, amid the fact that right now cars are back-logged, piled-up, unable to get recycled in an efficient, timely manner- South Carolina is offering $3.9 million, their share of some $300 million in federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act being distributed as appliance rebates. Meet... "Cash for Appliances."

Even Goldman Expects Post Cash For Clunkers Hangover

Goldman Sachs, which disagrees with Edmunds' expectation for an 8.8 million September SAAR, has shared its own projection of 9.3 million. Even so, the drop from the 12.5 million in September 2008 and the 14.1 million in August, is dramatic. What is scary is that there is no indication October will be any better. The only new initiative launched by Detroit: 60 day money back guarantees. Will that stimulate car sales, or simply end up as a bureaucratic nightmare for dealers, is still unknown. Although rental companies, those Chinese rockets like Hertz and Avis whose stocks have gone up by about 10,000%, will very likely not be too happy that GM has now also entered the "rental" car business.

Cash For Clunkers Raises August SAAR From 9.5 to 16 Million And Other Observations

The first fully blown subsidy program in the form of Cash for Clunkers is now over. Many more undoubtedly will follow, with Cash for Woodshed Plasma TV likely to appear in 3 to 6 months. As it will facilitate Made in Taiwan and Japan exports to the US, one does not anticipate any WTO trade wars. Some observations on the consequences of CfC.

Biggest Beneficiary Of Cash For Clunkers To Cut Capacity By 10%

In a stark example of how it "should" be done, the recently terminated cash for clunkers subsidy for overleveraged US consumer to purchase Japanese cars, has allowed companies such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai to push forward a significant amount of their sales, while relying less on the back end of their production curve. Indeed, as Detroit News recently reported, of the five majorbeneficiaries of Cash for Clunkers, 4 were Japanese cars, with Toyota representing 19.2% of all cars sold under the program. And now that they got their sales out of the door, they are winding down capacity.

Guest Post: Cash For Clunkers Vs. The Big Three's 0% Financing In October 2001

The June 1 ISM to June 5 NFP high to higher high was +10. The idea was that the Aug 3 ISM to Aug 7 NFP higher high would be roughly +10. If so, it would target 1013. That is precisely what has happened. Notably, the stock market sold off 32 points by the following Monday June 8 before setting a retrace high on Thursday June 11’s retail sales report that were goosed by automaker incentives of $6900 in rebates. Expecting July retail sales to be goosed by similar cash for clunker incentives, we expect the stock market to rally into Thursday’s Aug 13 retail sales report. In short, a rolling top similar to June’s is expected in the first half of August.

Cash For Clunkers Moves To Toxic Financial Stocks

AIG (short interest of 16%) and CIT (13%) are today's latest squeeze puppets. Because non-bankruptcy prospects before both companies are just so hot. Will whoever is pulling all the borrow please fess up already.

Cash For Clunkers

The big story today was how the O-Team decided to unleash another 2 billion for the Cash for Clunkers program after the first round ran out in a matter of days.