The March numbers were still terrible - nearly 40 percent lower than a year earlier - but things apparently picked up in the final week of the month. Perhaps it's another small sign that the bottom might be near (don't underestimate the power of the market upswing in getting folks to feel better about their financial situation). From the NYT:
Michael C. DiGiovanni, G.M.'s chief sales analyst, said vehicle sales could start improving even before the overall economy does, provided consumers begin to see positive signs like more stable home prices. "When home prices stabilize people are going to feel a lot better about their personal wealth," Mr. DiGiovanni said. "People who are employed would feel much better about their situations, and we think that would bode well for car sales."
If sales do improve over the next few months, the Obama folks might be faced with a dilemma. It's not as if the structural dysfunction is going away - GM and Chrysler remain long-term basket cases. It's just that a forced bankruptcy filing - and further layoffs - could lead to lots of second-guessing if the immediate situation doesn't appear quite as dire as late last year, when GM barely had enough money to pay the bills.