August light-vehicle sales give us an early indication of how the real side of the economy is holding up under the financial turmoil that began August 9. And the results are not too bad, considering.
August sales of cars manufactured in North America were down 3.7% from August 2006, but up 13.7% from July’s dismal numbers:
Domestic light truck sales were up 2.9% year-to-year and 16.8% month-to-month:
Adding together all light vehicles sold in the U.S. (cars and light trucks, domestic and foreign), the August 2007 number was basically the same as August 2006 and up 12.9% from July:
Automobile sales can be one of the first things we see shift in response to a change in consumer psychology, and the most recent numbers for the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment show a worrisome plunge:
So none of us would be surprised if we learned that the worries on Wall Street have become big concerns on Main Street as well. But the August data for automobile sales suggest that hasn’t happened.
At least, not yet.