Boy, what a day. First the jobs report, then the stock market plunge, and now comes word that auto sales - the one bit of news that the Obama administration had come to rely on - fell 4.1 percent in May compared with the previous month. The annual rate of 13.8 million vehicles, which was well below expectations, marked the first time in 2012 that sales were under 14 million. Sales were up 17.9 percent from a year earlier, but that's a little misleading because around this time in 2011 there were all kinds of tsunami-related supply chain issues. The slower results might have been telegraphed by various incentive programs put in place by automakers. It seems that the pent-up demand from earlier in the year is slowing down. From Bloomberg:
"There's a fairly consistent story that the U.S. recovery is slogging it out, inching forward but still restrained," Paul Ballew, chief economist at Dun & Bradstreet in Short Hills, New Jersey, said in a phone interview yesterday. "That's what shows up in auto sales, consumer spending and employment growth. While we want the recovery to sprint ahead, it's just the messiest one in history because of housing, fiscal-policy issues and Europe being on its back."