Executive Briefings

GM Sales Tumble As Cars Stop Fueling U.S. Growth

Here's a bad sign for the U.S. economy: Sales at General Motors Co. just plunged by the most in more than a year, and its Detroit rivals aren’t faring much better.

The 15-percent drop GM posted in its home market last month was its steepest since May of last year. Ford Motor Co. reported its biggest sales decline since October and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV had its second-worst tumble this year.

The disappointing showing underscores how Detroit has been struggling to live up to President Donald Trump’s prediction that it would become “the car capital of the world again.” The hometown automakers are instead laying off U.S. workers, particularly those who build passenger cars that have fallen out of favor with American consumers. A demand slump has rendered spending on vehicles and parts a drag on U.S. economic growth, after years of contributing to expansion.

“You can’t jawbone the economy,” said Diane Swonk, CEO and founder of DS Economics in Chicago. “The auto industry was stronger than the rest of the economy for a while because they were giving credit to people who couldn’t pay loans. Sales crested sooner and now they are paying the price.”

The traditional U.S. automakers each missed projections for declines that analysts gave in a Bloomberg News survey. While Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. both beat projections, only Toyota Motor Corp. posted a gain.

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The 15-percent drop GM posted in its home market last month was its steepest since May of last year. Ford Motor Co. reported its biggest sales decline since October and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV had its second-worst tumble this year.

The disappointing showing underscores how Detroit has been struggling to live up to President Donald Trump’s prediction that it would become “the car capital of the world again.” The hometown automakers are instead laying off U.S. workers, particularly those who build passenger cars that have fallen out of favor with American consumers. A demand slump has rendered spending on vehicles and parts a drag on U.S. economic growth, after years of contributing to expansion.

“You can’t jawbone the economy,” said Diane Swonk, CEO and founder of DS Economics in Chicago. “The auto industry was stronger than the rest of the economy for a while because they were giving credit to people who couldn’t pay loans. Sales crested sooner and now they are paying the price.”

The traditional U.S. automakers each missed projections for declines that analysts gave in a Bloomberg News survey. While Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. both beat projections, only Toyota Motor Corp. posted a gain.

Read Full Article