Housing A Little Better. Auto Sales Still Grim



The auto industry posted more bleak numbers for the month of January while the housing industry surprised with a bit of an upbeat report.

First, auto sales were once again dismal, In fact, some reports suggest that for the first time ever, China surpassed the U.S. in monthly sales. Here are the figures for those reporting so far.


  • Ford                                          Down 40.2%
  • GM                                            Down 48.9%
  • Toyota                                      Down 31.7%
  • Honda                                      Down 27.9%
  • Nissan                                     Down 29.7%
  • Hyundai                                   Up     14.3%

Hyundai attributed its results to its new “Assurance Program which provides buyers insurance if they lose their job or have some other life altering event. Marketing, evidently still works.

The National Association of Realtors announced that the pending home sale index rose 6.3% in December to 87.7 from a reading of 85.2 in November. The increase was 2.1% over the reading in December 2007. Here is how it broke out regionally.

The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 1.7 percent to 62.1 in December and is 14.5 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 12.8 percent to 83.7 but remains 1.2 percent below December 2007. The index in the South surged 13.0 percent to 96.8 in December and is 1.6 percent above a year ago. In the West, the index fell 3.7 percent to 97.5 but remains 17.5 percent higher than December 2007.

Separately, the Census Bureau reported that the home ownership rate had declined to 67.5% at the end of 2008. This puts the number back where it was at the end of 2000. So, after eight years of cheap easy credit, untold billions of taxpayers dollars spent on increasing the ownership rate and millions of wrecked lives and dreams all we have to show for it is a banking system on the verge of collapse and an economy in shambles. Is it possible that we might take a lesson from this?

Calculated Risk has an excellent (as usual) post analyzing the housing numbers. He really tears apart the supply side of the equation, so if you have an interest in this subject I suggest you take a look.

more: here and here

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