How Are Auto Sales Doing These Days?

I’m stuck in the infusion center for the day, so blogging will probably be a little slow today. This has nothing to do with having an IV drip hanging off my arm, and everything to do with being forced to use my tablet’s on-screen keyboard instead of the awesome mechanical switch keyboard connected to my desktop machine.

(Just as I wrote those words, the pharmacy finally delivered the IV bags containing the meds. So I should get out of here around 1 pm, just in time for an East Coast late-day document dump.)

Anyway, I decided to kill some time by checking in on the auto industry to see how it’s doing. First up, here are domestic auto sales:

Down, down, down! Nobody want ordinary cars anymore, not if they’re produced in America, anyway. Now here’s a chart that shows everything: both car and light truck sales (including SUVs), domestic and imported:

Sales reached a high of 18 million in 2016, but have drifted down to 17 million since then. The beginning of 2018 started out weakly, with sales of about 16.5 million vehicles. Part of this might be due to financing. Interest rates are drifting up:

And the total amount being financed is growing:

A few years ago, people were financing $26,000 at 4%. Today it’s more like $30,000 at 5%. Roughly speaking, that’s a difference of $480 per month vs. $570 per month. That’s more than $1,000 per year. Given the sluggish wage growth of the past few years, this makes it hardly surprising that auto and truck sales are sluggish too. It hardly matters if “the economy” is doing well when your personal paycheck isn’t going up but the price of a car is. MAGA.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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