Posts Tagged ‘cash for clunkers’

Australia Economic Crisis Management Julia Gillard Style: “Cash For Clunkers”

July 30th, 2010 Comments off

Julia Gillard, Australia’s brand-new prime minister, is about to head into a general election. Having deposed her former boss and Labour Party P.M. Kevin Rudd in a Machiavellian scheme that can only be labelled a bloodless putsch, the politically ambitious Gillard is determined to win the Australian election, which will be held on August 21, by any means necessary. Thus, she replicated U.S. president Barack Obama’s  “cash for clunkers” boondoggle.

In a previous post on my blog, I labelled the Obama “cash for clunkers” program as being in reality “economics for dummies.” Needless to say, Julia Gillard hopes that the voters of Australia will be similarly dumbfounded.

According to the Gillard plan, consumers who trade in a pre-1995 car for one with lower emissions will be eligible for a $2000 rebate, courtesy of the taxpayers from down under. The move is being presented as a concession to environmentalists, but at a time of global economic crisis, such a move is clearly a deficit-funded stimulus measure. And who will benefit? Of the 7 car models that qualify for the rebate, five are imported models. In other words, Julia Gillard wants Australia to take on more public debt to subsidize automobile companies located overseas.

Gillard may be a savvy and ruthless politician, but as an economic policymaker she has already established herself as a waltzing disaster, in my view.

Julia Gillard




More “Cash for Clunkers” Nonsense From Obama Stimulus Gimmickry

September 2nd, 2009 Comments off
In a previous post I dubbed the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program as really being “economics for dummies.” The sales results tabulated by Bloomberg for the period of July 27 through August 24, coinciding with the implementation of “Cash for Clunkers,” exposes the banal irrationality of this taxpayer-subsidized boondoggle.


The program actually did stimulate auto sales-for Detroit’s foreign competitors. Toyota, for example, saw an increase in car sales of 6.4%. Among domestic manufacturers, however, only Ford saw a gain, rising by 17%. But what about Chrysler and General Motors, which are only still in business due to government financed life support.?



Even with “Cash for Clunkers,” Chrysler sales dropped by 15% and GM sank by 20%. And this is supposed to have been a “successful” economic stimulus program? If so, what in God’s name would have been considered a failure?


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“Cash For Clunkers” is Really Economics For Dummies

August 5th, 2009 Comments off

In confronting a  crisis of epic proportions, one can do the heavy work of crafting a well conceived, comprehensive strategy. But why bother, when short-term gimmicky is politically more feasible. Thus we have this absurd counter-cyclical gimmick, the so-called “cash for clunkers” boondoggle, being offered by the Washington establishment as their “answer” to the  massive problems confronting the automobile industry, not only in America but globally as well.

Throughout the world, a vast car manufacturing infrastructure has been constructed at great expense and high leverage, designed for global demand of almost one hundred million cars per year. However, the Global Economic Crisis has unleashed massive demand destruction in many key categories of consumer durables. In the case of autos, worldwide demand is currently just above fifty million units per annum, rendering it almost impossible for most automobile manufacturers to generate a profit, whether they are located in Detroit, Tokyo or Stuttgart. The challenge is massive, global and complex. Yet, the geniuses in Washington have come up with a solution that is small, local and simplistic beyond all measure.

The concept of the “cash for clunkers” program is very simple and superficially enticing, as are most gimmicks. Trade in the old jalopy that was on the verge of being junked anyways, since it had no trade-in value on the open market. The federal government will fund  a $4,500 credit that will go towards the purchase of a shiny new automobile, thus stimulating the economy. As to be expected, the response from those with dilapidated vehicles on the verge of being dropped off at the local scrap yard has been  substantial, in the process depleting the original one billion dollar appropriation for the program. Also not a surprise, the politicians rushed to provide another  $2 billion for the program, to the delight of car dealerships across the land.

While on the surface  the program may be seen as an economic stimulus initiative at work, no one should be fooled into believing that this is a carefully designed, long-term strategic answer to the worst economic contraction to occur in the United States since the Great Depression. And most notably, the supposedly strong response to the program actually betrays its supercilious essence. For one thing, four of the the five most popular cars being purchased under “cash for clunkers” are foreign brands, meaning the impact on the domestic auto industry is minor at best.

Beyond the fact that  domestic car manufacturers are only partially benefiting from the program, it must  also be remembered that every dollar of credit being distributed under the program’s auspices is from U.S. taxpayers, at a time of massive, multi-trillion dollar deficits. Using borrowed money to subsidize the purchase of foreign made automobiles, along with domestic models, does not make much economic sense. However, there is another aspect to this program that has thus far escaped scrutiny.

A major driver of the Global Economic Crisis was the stampede of consumers who were enticed into buying new homes they could not afford, due to the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates beyond prudent levels. This created a real estate bubble, and we all know the consequences of that. Now, with “cash for clunkers,” it just may be possible that many of the consumers taking advantage of the credit largesse from Washington are those with incomes that were inadequate for  a new car purchase, but have been persuaded by their own government to take the plunge on a new automobile loan, courtesy of this deficit-financed program. What happens if many of these new car owners end up defaulting on their auto loans, as the recession deepens?  This is by no means a small possibility, given the current dynamics of the nation’s most severe economic contraction since the 1930s. In effect, the American taxpayer may be financing a new wave of consumer loan defaults down the line, further exacerbating what some are now calling the Great Recession.

“Cash for Clunkers” is really a showroom lemon, masquerading as brilliant economic policy. The politicians may think it is ingenious; my own view is that it is symptomatic of the intellectual bankruptcy that has come to dominate Washington’s response to the nation’s descent into financial and economic doom.


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