Sales at auto dealerships are predictably down a month after the popular "Cash for Clunkers" program ended, and now some analysts are calling the incentives an economic wash.
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"We pulled people ahead that weren't in the market, so it got them to come out and buy those cars. Now we've taken, probably, some business from September and October, so we're probably going to see a softer September than we would normally see," explained Reliable Superstore General Manager Tony Stubblefield.
Missouri State University Economic Tom Wyrich takes apart the Clunker program from several different angles:
"It helps some people and hurts other people. Is that a good thing? It's not a good thing. It's just a thing."
- "It caused people to accelerate the purchases of cars. Buy a car today, don't buy one in 2010, 2011. So car sales are up this year, but they'll drop off in the future."
- "If affects the car sellers in a big way, in a noticeable way, in a way we can put in headlines, but it damages other other industries -- a lot of other industries in a small way that offsets that. People have to make all these car payments and when they start making car payments on these new cars they're buying -- they don't have the money to go out and go to Applebee's or buy something at the mall at Macy's."
- "These cars were capable of transporting people and what we did was destroy them. We've got this housing crisis, price of houses have been falling, contractors got some real problems out there, let's go out and blow up some homes. We destroyed cars thinking that will lead to prosperity. And if that does, let's burn down our homes. This has amounted to destroying wealth, capital goods. And that is not smart. It's stupid."