August 2008 Car Sales: Funny, it sure looks like a recession

Of course, the TV talking heads disagree, and former Republican senator Phil Gramm says it's only in our minds, but the all-too-real auto sales numbers for August speak loud and clear. And they say, "It's a recession, stupid!"

Zooming fuel prices created a climate of fear earlier in the summer, and panicked buyers all but abandoned their SUVs and pickups idling at the side of the road and ran into dealerships to get themselves a Prius, a Civic, a Corolla, a Fit, or whatever fuel sipper they could get their hands on.

Now that gas prices have stopped climbing - and even mitigated somewhat - buyers aren't motivated so much by fear. They just aren't motivated at all. And those that are run up against tougher credit and leasing requirements - epitomized by Chrysler Financial, which has stopped writing leases altogether.

And so the pain is widespread. Nameplates declining twenty percent or more outnumber those posting gains of twenty percent or better by nearly five to one.

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