The Bailout Worked

Vance Packard book cover According to Automotive Age, the publicly-restored car corporations are raking it in now:

American consumers are on pace to spend more than $400 billion buying new vehicles this year for the first time ever.

That’s nearly 80 percent more than just five years ago, during the recession, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which does not adjust the numbers for inflation. It’s also more than a decade ago, even though sales volumes are still lower now. Higher transaction prices have more than made up for the shortfall in volume.

The rise in revenue is comfortably outpacing the overall gain in volume as consumers shift toward larger, pricier SUVs and crossovers and away from less-expensive sedans. And the added revenue is lubricating the industry like never before.

At 2004 transaction prices, which were about $4,500 per vehicle less than today, the industry would have needed to sell about 19 million vehicles to achieve the current level of consumer spending.

“The industry is performing at a very, very high level,” said Thomas King, a J.D. Power vice president. “There’s good news on volume, exceptionally good news on transaction prices and therefore record-breaking spending. We broke the record in ’13 and we’re going to break that record again in ’14.”

Atrocious news for the planet and its dominant species, of course…

But what’s that, compared to even more money for the 1%?

Good News from Easter Island!

easter_car Imagine if they’d had commercial news media on Rapa Nui, circa 1499. Having gone far in using up the bird species and big trees on which they had based their class-stratified society, Easter Island’s ruling honchos responded by doing what all ruling classes do when faced with a crisis of their own making: They redoubled their efforts at what they were already doing.

In the case of Easter Island circa 1499, this involved a campaign to make bigger and bigger moai, the giant stone statues held to bring favor from the gods who were held to have appointed Rapa Nui’s rulers to their seats of privlege.

So, if there had been commercial media available to those rulers in 1499, the news shows they sponsored would have been busy reporting the good news in the area of revived and increasing moai manufacture and installation…

Leap now to the present-day United States of America. Per Ward’s Auto:

U.S. light-vehicle sales, based on the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate, improved on prior-month’s results for the third straight time this year in November, suggesting a longer-term growth trend is taking hold.

Last month’s 13.6 million-unit SAAR was the highest since 14.2 million units in August 2009, when the government launched its Cash-for-Clunkers incentive program, and noticeably improved on year-ago’s 12.2 million.

The string of stronger months sets the stage for a relatively healthy finish to 2011.

But wait! It gets even better. The average selling price of new moai automobiles is now the highest it’s ever been.

And, as the birds and trees petroleum and other chemicals dwindle, what are the best-selling moai light vehicles? Per Ward’s Auto again:

1) Ford F-Series Pickup
2) Chevy Silverado Pickup
5) Ford Escape SUV

Overall, larger moai light trucks continue to constitute more than half of all moai auto sales.