What auto and long-haul industries say about US economy

There are encouraging signs in the US economy and auto sales are one such indicator, but if it comes down to a simple equation of supply and demand, the long-haul industry is no part of a rosier view.

Neil Irwin, writing in the Washington Post, put it this way, “Cars represent the demand side of the economy: The desire of Americans to buy the goods and services they want, need or enjoy. Trucks, specifically 18-wheelers and other big rigs, represent the supply side of the economy: The factories and shipping networks that make and distribute all those goods and services that consumers buy, including cars.”

It’s a simplified model, of course, but the soaring sales of cars express belief in the future and prosperity as well – the eternal human quest for the good life. This is somewhat corroborated by recent news reports that the number of homes in foreclosure is finally shrinking.

Other prognostications tell of a dynamic holiday season with new records for online shopping, possibly resulting in a temporary job boom, at least.

Meanwhile, the trucking industry and those hard-working Americans who ply our nation’s highways delivering the goods we all want or need are facing a shrinking economy, at least at present.

Irwin reminds that between May and August this year, US factory orders dropped 5.2 percent in August, as many retailers waited for the other shoe to drop. Everyone is waiting for the economists to unequivocally state the recession is over – to see irrefutable evidence with their own eyes. It probably is, but things are so volatile at present no one's really willing to come out and say so.

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