The Car Bubble … and Cash for Clunkers II?

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A guy who smokes meth can pull a week of 15 hour days. But come next week… .meth head

That’s how artifical “incentives” work on the economy. On the macro level, it is the Boom – and Bust – business cycle, whose unnatural peaks and valleys are caused by manipulation of money and credit, which causes excessive and unwarranted “investment” that – inevitably – leads to a downturn (or even a crash) when the artificially induced supply is disproportionate to demand. The housing bubble of the early 2000s is an obvious example of this.

Cash for Clunkers (same era) is another – and its unfortunate effects are just now beginning to become obvious.

As with housing in the early 2000s, the federal government decided it would be a good idea to “stimulate” new car sales by enacting a program that paid people to throw away perfectly good used cars. The idea being that they would then buy new cars to replace the ones thrown away.

Many (but not all, bear with) did so. This created a boom in new cars sales. Not only because there were fewer good used cars available, but also because the ones that remained had gone up considerably in price due to (wait for it) limited supply. This artificial scarcity in turn became the artificial incentive to buy a new car.

Actually, to take out a loan on a new car.Cash For Clunkers

The remaining used cars  that survived Cash for Clunkers were still less expensive than a new car. But they were now expensive enough that few people could afford to plunk down cash for one. That meant financing – and the interest rates on a loan for a used car tend to be much higher while interest rates on a new car loan were (and still are) much lower.

Another artificial incentive to “stimulate” the sale of the new over the used.

But even with low interest financing, the cost of a new car is higher than ever. So high, in fact, that most people have to take out a six or even seven year loan – the new normal – in order to make the monthly payments manageable.

The cost of new cars is high – the average new car sold for more than $30k last year – because of two factors, and they are in a very real  way additional artificial “incentives” that have distorted the car market to the point of absurdity.

One, government keeps piling on mandates – safety and emissions – which add parts or require new designs, none of which comes free and often comes very expensive. The VW Diesel Debacle is a case in point. We know now that the cost per car to make the “cheating” diesels meet Uncle’s mandates amounts to several thousand dollar per car – an amount so high that the cars are not worth “fixing” and so will be thrown away instead. And because the cost to make Uncle-compliant diesels is so high, VW has decided to make them no longer (see here).

Two, buyers want gadgets.

Even “economy” cars now come with or offer LCD touchscreens and power pretty much everything.

Which is fine – except people can’t really afford this. Or the mandated-by-Uncle equipment. Debt is necessary to make it all feasible… temporarily.gadgets pic

Very much like early 2000s McMansions with granite countertops, faux stone exteriors and vaulted ceilings.

Most people cannot really afford a $300,000 McMansion. And most people can’t really afford a $30,000 car.

Debt makes it seem like they can.

For awhile.

And even those who see the scam – and don’t want anything to do with the faux prosperity it (temporarily) creates – are nonetheless carried along by the rip tide. In the early 2000s, bubble-ized 4,000 square-foot McMansions at $300k drove out reasonably sized (and reasonably priced) housing. It was the McMansion – and the debt load that came with it – or forget it.McMansion

It’s the same with cars. Because most people – or at least, a sufficiency of them – are dumb enough to buy a car they can’t really afford, cars in general become increasingly unaffordable for everyone. And the chickens are now coming home to roost, just as they did with houses – for exactly the same reasons.

Ford – which had been booming as recently as six months ago – just revealed a second quarter downturn approaching ten percent and ruefully issued a statement accompanying this disclosure that it expects the rest of the year to be “much weaker than normal.”

This is a canary in the coal mine.

Ford CFO Bob Shanks tacitly admitted this in language that’s easy enough to parse if you understand the code words. “We’re starting to see a maturation of the economic cycle,” he said.

Italics added.

Indeed we are.

Mazda just posted a 42 percent quarterly profit free-fall. Part of this has been attributed to foreign exchange losses but it’s part of a general trend reflecting a slumping of sales across the board. Nissan and Toyota are having a hard time, too. GM’s sales are down 18 percent. Overall, sales are down about six percent, industry-wide. This after a record high (in terms of total sales) 2015, when almost 18 million new cars and trucks found buyers.

Well, found debtors.unsold new cars

But now the proverbial boner is wilting just like a real one after a long Vegas weekend on Viagra. For  the reasons described above and also because there is now a decent supply of good used cars available again. In particular, the supply of ex-leased cars is now very large. These are relatively new, relatively low-mileage vehicles that have depreciated by a third to 50 percent or more.

Which gives people who don’t want the six-to-seven-year debt load of a new car the option to buy a good used car that they can pay cash for.

Maybe you can see what’s coming.

Grab one, while you still can…

The economic backwash of too-expensive new cars – “incentivized” by easy credit and excessive but spread out, to make it seem affordable, debt  – and the reappearance in the marketplace of affordable alternatives (good used cars) is causing sales of new cars to wilt, probably precipitously, as invariably happens in a Boom Bust cycle.

The car industry will squeal for help from Uncle – just like back in the early 2000s. And Uncle will be happy to oblige, as he always is.

But Uncle’s “help” always comes at a cost.Uncle pic

The last time he “helped,” good used cars became artificially scarce and unnaturally expensive. Expect something similar to happen again, in order to “stimulate” new cars sales and re-set the cycle.

The public will be swooned by a PR campaign describing anything not new as “dirty” and “unsafe,” lacking all the latest equipment mandated by Uncle.New “incentives” will be put on the table to get people out of them and into a new car (and a new loan). The government may even issue fatwas formally outlawing these – ahem – “dirty” and “unsafe” cars. Especially if Hillary wins. Does anyone doubt she and hers are  capable of such a thing? If so, I recommend pulling away from the crack pipe for 24 hours and reconsidering the question.

That plus the general conditioning of the public to be obssessed with electronics, with gadgets, the automotive equivalent of Huxley’s centrifugal bumble puppy and elctromagnetic golf, will assure a strong – but hugely artificial – demand for new cars.

And the merry-go-‘round will continue.

The ten-year new car loan is just around the corner.

Wait and see.

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111 COMMENTS

  1. 4000sq ft McMansions for $300,000? Maybe in rural Texas.

    Out here on the west coast, a 4000sq ft McMansion would be $800,000 or more! And yes, even the low build quality pop-up boxes they cram replicas door to door in to build neighborhoods!

    If you can FIND a house out west for $300,000 nowadays, it is going to be 900 sq feet, and a fixer upper dump in a mediocre part of town. And this applies to small towns in the west coast today too, not just the big cities and their burbs.

    • Three years ago I got into a ’95 Buick Roadmaster just because they’re so cool. Sure the CFC program was something I’d heard of but never had affect me until I started hunting parts for that car and listening to yard owners across the nation vent about how destroying so many classics had left them absolutely disgusted. I often heard “they got just as good of mileage as many cars today”. I sold the car and vowed that the only thing I’d ever touch fun project-wise would be something mass produced. Your article worries me because it endangers my 96 chev crewcab and 85 thunderbird. The overall message of nothing comes without a price should ring loud and clear to all people who think social programs and bigger government are the key to managing the world. It blows me away when I see someone who cries and cries for freedoms and personal responsibility to be the first ones to tell another to head over to the unemployment office when they get laid off…they’ll say “you’ve earned it”.

      • Hello Mike,
        I was in total agreement with you until I got to the last sentence:
        “It blows me away when I see someone who cries and cries for freedoms and personal responsibility to be the first ones to tell another to head over to the unemployment office when they get laid off…they’ll say “you’ve earned it”.
        I see no contradiction here. Unemployment insurance and half of the social security tax are indirectly paid by the employee. Employers write the checks, but that same dollar amount would have gone directly into the employees pay were it not for the government laws; therefore the employee really pays for it all. Should someone who has gotten laid off not collect on that insurance? If you believe that: Then don’t file an insurance claim if your house gets burned down or your car gets wrecked!
        If what you really meant to say was that these forced programs should not exist; then we are in agreement. The above examples are not welfare cases even though they are mismanaged by the state just like the genuine welfare programs are. I do wish that Libertarians and Conservatives would be consistent when they criticize welfare payments to poor people by criticizing corporate welfare as well. Corporate welfare is so much more costly to the taxpayers than general welfare. Criticizing only the latter is nothing more than a sideways attack on fellow tax slaves.

        • Brian,I have to say I am in total agreement with you.Some company owners depise people getting UE benefits ,some called it a paid vacation ,back in the days when I was eligible for $50 a week UEI benefits ,sometimes the weather was too nasty to work,sometimes there just wasnt any work availible and I like most people would rather not have had to screw with the state to get a few dollars ,so you could spend it trying to find nonexistent work( a work search requirement and you had to be able bodied not sick or injured to be able to draw the little penarious check(the claims officers used to act like it was coming out of their pockets) A little inquiry into the district Congressmans office changed some of that back in the day.
          I think some of the ire by this person was directed at those generous long term benefits some people enjoyed(enough that some would not seek work ) but dont paint everyone with the same brush.There were no generous benefits around here and we had to do work search and take any little piddly job available.I always counted it as gain the winters when I didnt have to apply for unemployment insurance( the little we got kept us from the bread lines . So dont dis the poor people please(I am not refering to you Brian of course)

          • Unemployment insurance, while paid directly by the employer and thus indirectly by the employee, is, or at least originally was, a short term ‘benefit.’ But the gunvermin has screwed up the economy so bad, that Congress keeps voting to extend the benefits. I don’t think the insurance companies, even in gunvermin monopolies like this, have the power to go back and retroactively increase premiums. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet Congress is pushing those expenses into the deficit.
            If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con,’ what is Congress?

            • You sort of answered your own question Phillip. The government is at fault, and the government insurance company branch is collecting damages. I think the real reason for the extension of benefits was to prevent a mass riot by angry unemployed people who saw the banksters getting bailed out. The unemployed people were largely blameless for their predicament; not so for the banksters, who still remained employed!

        • Brian, I have spent the entire day going around with the unemployment office and filling out work applications. I finally told the wife a while ago this was the most stressful situation I could imagine. Not only would I rather be working those 15 hr days eric says a crackhead works except I worked them week after week after month. I’ll add that plenty of water and little to eat is the best way to get those done.

          I was putting in apps before I came in one day and learned I had no work. No notice, nuttin. Now we have about $30 to our name. Does anyone really think I wouldn’t rather be knocking back day after day of those 15 hrs…..even in that Pete with no a/c than not being able to pay the electric bill(no water either since we have well water)and esp. in 101-104 degree heat every day?

          Shit Ronnie, wake up all who oppose unemployment. I saw nearly everybody I worked with lose their job. I know a guy who was a pusher which gives you the idea you will be one of the last out of work. And he was right. He was bused down to driller…..then floorhand….then part-time floorhand and then unemployed.

          Unemployment won’t pay us enough to live since it will be less than one third of my normal pay and I haven’t been shocking the bank with my job deposits when I have been working. Good thing taters were on for ninety-seven for 5 lbs. Next week the 10 pound bag will be $1.97, big savings. I just wish pinto beans would go on sale and CAT FOOD(call me RA). Well, gotta go, gotta fax off another app and watch my phone not ring.

          Oh, BTW, Texas makes you jump through all sorts of hoops. I was out of work 5 weeks before I even filed. Surely somebody needs me. I wonder what the local cop shop pays for moving targets.

    • I used to work for an excavating company at the Lake of the Ozarks before the ’08 crash. I occasionally spoke with the owners of the new home site we were excavating. It really pissed me off to learn that many ,but not all, of these people with money to buy an 8th of an acre lot for $75K+ on an extremely steep hillside requiring a massive amount of excavation for them to have a $250,000 and up McMansion built had a much lower intelligence level than I had; yet they had a history of earning more per year than I could even dream about earning as a mechanic/truck driver. These idiots would build a 2 story poured concrete basement and have us fill it in with many dump truck loads of crushed quarry rock. They didn’t want a basement. They wanted an extremely tall foundation. They would waste all of that money on fill, but would have their exterior house walls and roof clad in chip board instead of using real tongue and groove plywood.
      These houses were usually 2nd homes, yet their out of town owners had the attitude that if the natives living at the lake in the low wage county couldn’t afford to upgrade their homes to the wealthy invaders standards: they deserved to lose their homes.
      Beam me up to where reason and merit has value!

      • Same deal here Brian,when I worked for the Brothers,we developed an half acre lot on the “Preserve “(250K for the lot )it was actually the side of a ravine with the bottom end of the lot ending in a floodplain.My youngest brother had to take the rocks found “in situ ” and build a retaining bin to make a small parking lot ,it was an “arts and craft ” “Earthstar” home on a prefab concrete basement ,in the woods no view there .
        As long as people are of the “P.T .Barnum ” mentioned variety ,there will be travesties like this built .
        As for the wage problem ,society cant allow the people that can do , to have a living wage ,why ,we may stop doing as much .

      • Morning, Brian –

        Boy, can I relate to that… here’s a story for you:

        Back in the late ’90s, I was among a group of car journalists attending a press event. At a reception, I was standing around, enjoying a drink when I was accosted by a guy – who wrote for a major/heavyweight newspaper – asking my advice about how to get into writing motorcycle reviews. He candidly admitted to me that he did not know how to ride a motorcycle…

        But that’s not all!

        Some inside baseball:

        Did you know that Washington Post car reviewer Warren Brown did not know how to drive a stick shift car when he was first assigned to do reviews for The Post? This was not a Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, either.

        Now, I’m not claiming to be the greatest car/motorcycle journalist alle zeit. However, I do effing know how to drive and ride. You’d be amazed (but maybe not) how many Big Name car/bike journalists don’t. And also, how many of them could not explain, for all the gold bullion in Fort Knox, how a four cycle gas engine works.

        For real, mang.

  2. On the 29th of April 1970 a politician named Enoch Powell recommended the house building federation to give this simple message to government.

    “Do nothing for us; do nothing against us. Do not make our capital cheap; do not make it dear. Do not promise the public more of our products; do not promise them less. Promise nothing. Do nothing. Leave alone.”

    I think this message is the one message any industry should tell government.

  3. You mention that everyone wants touchscreens and gadgets to the max being a reason why cars are so expensive. True. But why can’t you buy a car equipped with nothing? That would save a bundle. My first two cars were a 73 Chevy Vega and 77 Datsun B210. The only options on both were an AM radio and automatic transmission. You could even buy a car bare bones with 3 speed manual and no radio. What I had on those two cars was all I needed and all everyone today needs in a car that small (OK, I’ll let you have the AM-FM/XM Sirius/CD player–but nothing more). Who needs power steering, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, power seats, etc. on a car that small anyway? Those are the things you used to see only in large family sedans (i.e., Chevy Impala, Ford Galaxie, etc.) and station wagons in the 1960’s and 1970’s–and sometimes only in luxury models (Cadillac, Olds 98, etc.) Bring back true economy cars at lower prices and reduce the debt load (which is what is really dragging down the economy–the subject for another message)

  4. You mention that everyone wants touchscreens and gadgets to the max being a reason why cars are so expensive. True. But why can’t you buy a car equipped with nothing? That would save a bundle. My first two cars were a 73 Chevy Vega and 77 Datsun B210. The only options on both were an AM radio and automatic transmission. You could even buy a car bare bones with 3 speed manual and no radio. What I had on those two cars was all I needed and all everyone today needs in a car that small (OK, I’ll let you have the AM-FM/XM Sirius/CD player–but nothing more). Who needs power steering, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, power seats, etc. on a car that small anyway? Those are the things you used to see only in large family sedans (i.e., Chevy Impala, Ford Galaxie, etc.) and station wagons in the 1960’s and 1970’s–and sometimes only in luxury models (Cadillac, Olds 98, etc.) Bring back true economy cars at lower prices and reduce the debt load (which is what is really dragging down the economy–the subject for another message)

  5. Maybe I missed it, but the old cars weren’t fuel injected and so didn’t have computers at all and so are not susceptible to ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) damage and I always figured those “clunkers” were the true targets of the “Cash for Clunkers” campaign. They just keep running until they wear out mechanically.
    It is my experience that I can get running gear parts for almost anything. It is lack of available body parts, the instruments and switches, that doom a car to being pulled up to a final resting place under the shade tree – even Cuban mechanics need three to keep one running.
    If I had the money, I would start building cars with a guarantee never to change the body style, with upgraded instrumentation to fit in the original body with nuts and bolts, like the original Beetle. The aftermarket manufacturers would have a field day with upgrades that would fit them all from first to last and nobody would be stuck with an orphan, and I don’t care because people would buy new ones to replace the wrecked ones.

    I am sure I would either be shot or get a visit from the SEC as Mr. Tucker did, but given the technology available today, I bet a bunch of independent contractors (unincorporated and no EINs so the government can’t control them) could have separate production lines all based on sticking to the original specs. I know nothing of forming sheet metal, but I bet that can be CNC automated too. All we have to buy is the steel (NOT that lead alloy the Chinese call steel). I bet independent contractors (not driven by corporate pressure to cut quality in every way possible) could make a good living at it.

    • Hi David,

      The Cash for Clunkers targeted – my opinion here – the early computer controlled/fuel-injected cars; those with just enough technology (example, throttle body injection) to be “modern” and so great everyday cars but not too modern. These cars – especially those made in the ’90s – could and did run almost indefinitely, which is why they were a problem – from Uncle’s point of view.

      In re your idea about cars: I agree, with a caveat. That being that debt-financing has to go. Too many people are too weak-minded to resist living beyond their means when debt is made available to them. Which would be ok if it just ruined them. But it ruins it for everyone. Leaving aside Uncle and his mandates, it is debt-financing of over-the-top equipment and features that has pushed the price of cars through the roof. If people bought what they could afford, there would be very few $50,000 SUVs and pick-ups out there… heck, there’d be very few $35,000 Camrys and Accords!

      • The war on old cars was originally anything built before 1980 and that started before the 80s were done. Imagine having an 8 year old car legislated off the road. That’s what they were attempting back then and the original clunker laws did away with a lot of 70s cars. One of the reasons there are so few ordinary 70s cars was due to the 80s and 90s clunker laws in California and other states where cars don’t get rusted away by road salt.

        Cash for clunkers was a national purge of mostly 80s and 90s cars. And then in the 40s old cars were purged for war scrap drives. They always have a reason to continually destroy wealth.

        Debt has ruined everything. The refusal to take on enormous debt has very negative consequences on person’s life. Socially, standard of living, etc because everyone else has bid up prices with debt.

        • Brent P ,the little 7 main bearing Ford sixes were pretty good little motors with the potential to be hopped up,have a friend who built up a 144 or a 170 ,I think she did alright for what He intended.
          8 mentioned an urban assualt Checker He intended to build ,actually around here the were favorites for a livery service in the multi door style with SBC power and they had a couple of Diesel Checkers at the National Radio Observatory at Green Bank ,WVA ( a few ridges over ) the GM diesel trucks and diesel Checkers were used for getting around on the campus ,because of the lack of electronic interference on the radio telescopesw including the 100 meter big dish(biggest of its kind in the world -steerable on 2 axes ,plus there is about 4 or more other unique things there,Plus its close to the Cass scenic railroad with one of the big old Shay locomotives still in operation for tours.
          I guess you could say a checker never goes out of style,Eight what kept you from completing the project?

          • Kevin……. as to the Checker…..money ha ha. I didn’t know they built diesel Checkers though it’s not surprising. I didn’t mean it to be an urban assault vehicle, just a big luxury vehicle with good fuel mileage and good handling plus just downright reliable. i wanted a nice luxury car(screw the looks) that would pull a boat 90 mph and take everything including the kitchen sink. The wife and I used to meet the family(hers) out in the boonies at the hunting camp or way off in the hills(same thing)and our El Camino would be THE unbreakable and most powerful of the bunch. We’ve pulled big vans and pickups with big boats behind them out of the lake and had the nicest, best handling, by far the fastest running vehicle there. It’s hard to beat a an 8 quart Moroso oil pan and external oil cooler with a 4 quart cooler pan added to the transmission and 400 hp when you wanted it. It could happen again. I have everything new in trim and everything else for it, just need a new engine, transmission and lots of TLC. it would be our last vehicle. I’ve even though of using a 1/2T front 4WD on it. I’ve seen one with a 6.5 Turbo Diesel and it was nice…and economical. I think it had a 2:1 rear-end ratio with a 12 bolt rear-end. The engine was barely turning at 70mph. Now that’s nice.

    • The unchanging vehicle you speak of was the Checker, a once ubiquitous commercial vehicle known as the taxicab. EPA and NHTSA killed it.

      The VW Beetle retained a look that endured for 65 years. The style remained so true to form that even toddlers can easily identify punch buggies from the original German prototype all the way to the very last one off a Mexican assembly line. Don’t be fooled by the look, there are distinct generations that incorporated substantial changes to the point that many individual parts do not readily interchange from one generation to the next.

      • There were also market differences for the beetles. Some sold/built in one part of the world were different than those sold/built in another.

      • It would be the perfect country car, eat dirt roads every day and be fine. I tried to find a good body at one time. I would have used a larger engine with fuel injection and an OD transmission, put some nice suspension on it, added some insulation and drove shit out of it with dark windows. I even thought of leaving the light on the roof but decided the color I’d use would look sorta funny with it(black, black and more black). I had a line on leather at the time and thought a nice Hereford interior would look nice. I know,white and red inside a black car but it would be unique. Some Centerline wheels painted black with little chickenshit hubcaps and it might be a semi-sleeper. Diesel power even crossed my mind. I just wanted it to haul my family and dogs(my family). A New Venture Gear 4500 heavy duty 3 speed transmission with an underdrive and an overdrive combined with a Brownlipe 3 speed gearbox would give some great fuel mileage at large speeds. I had the whole drivetrain sitting in the barn.

    • David, Checker Motors did just that (made a simple, virtually unchanging car, from the 50’s through the early 80’s)- using simple chevy drive-trains, and a sturdy body. Their cars were used as taxis all over the country, especially in big cities like NY, where there were literally thousands of them on the road. Private people bought them too. they were awesome. Could easily take the abuse of non-stop use and 3rd-world-esque NYC streets, and would often rack up a million miles before being retired. They were reasonably priced, to boot! Sadly, like most good things, the company was de facto legislated out of business.

    • If there are electric components then EMP can ruin them. It depends on the strength of EMP. I’m still wondering why/when EMP replaced EMF since we’re speaking of electromotive force. It’s easy to understand why the distance away from the source is so important to remember when speaking of EMF disabling something that the formula for EFM is an inverse square. If something emits emf then 5 units away you only receive 1/25th of it’s power. Get close enough to something like 480 V AC and it can jump a gap and give all of it to you.

      Probably not many people have farmed under a electrical transmission line or even seen the results of what the wave from it does to things in it’s vicinity. I’ve seen crops get to be huge under it when it was an old line and fairly low to the ground with the supports on each side of a steep hill. I recall a guy parking his 2 ton winch truck under one for the entire day since he was plowing the field. By the end of the day nobody could touch that truck without being knocked down. Make a wet spot on the ground, throw a chain over some part of that truck with one end in the wet spot and after a while you could touch it. It had to be drug away from that source for a ways before everything would work.

      • This is true,people cannot imagine the strength of something like the “Carrington event” a EMP bomb will have a very strong EMF surge and it will indeed burn out starter motors distributors ,etc. I would be real sneaky if I was to plan an EMP attack but I wont go into that ,My advice to any of these so called survivalists is to get ,spare electronics and spare things that relie on EMF to operate and either shield them or make a bunch of “Faraday cages ” to store them in.
        In case somebody is curious,the “Carrington event”Happened in the late 19 th century it was a solar event that caused a huge EMP,surge ,in Europe it was so strong it melted telegraph wires and sat crossties on fire(nothing to stop it from happening again)
        Dominion power has a 500 KV transmission line about a half a mile away from my Casa,it sounds like a waterfall in foggy conditions and will knock the delights out of you if you touch a metal ungrounded vehicle that has been sitting for any length of time under it .

  6. Tor ,who said a discussion about square waves and acoustics would be boring ?So much has to do with waveform,amplitude ,wavelength ,etc.Pressure wave propagation has a lot to do with tuning a naturally aspirated engine to have greater then 100% volumetric efficieny,(The boys at MOPAR used to do it-see the “Red Ram ” The induction system would actually Ram,to the tune od 104% volumetric efficiency,werent bad for old tech.
    Eight Southman,those late 70’s antilock systems were horrible,you would call for brakes and there would be none,the simplest way to overcome the dreaded things was to unhook them.Now on the other hand I can the need for ABS on trailers especially for novice Drivers ,try as they might you cannot get some people to release the brakes to try to find a little traction and directional control ,gotta take the good with the bad I suppose as Von Richtofen was alleged to have said,”Its not the machine ,but the man in the machine “Discipline and choosing your fights helps too.

    • That was a 93 Chevy diesel pickup the brakes failed on, the only pickup I’ve owned with anti-lock brakes…..and that bad boy destroyed a brand new Chevy pickup in front of it and an S-10 in front of that one. That new Chevy had all the lights in front hanging out by the wires and the bed looked like a round hot tub. Everything on the 93 went right over the frame on the new one so it wasn’t hurt too bad.

      Personally, I don’t want anti-lock brakes on anything having learned many decades ago how to use brakes on slick surfaces. Headed downhill with a heavy trailer and a slick surface, locked up trailer and pickup are likely the only way to stop. I say that from experience.

      • Its nice to be able to control the end you want on a rig sometimes even something that is one piece its nice to able to use the brakes independently ,nothing will teach you faster about these dynamics then driving heavy vehicles in the “slick “.

  7. I like Tors posts ,He has that ability of “Allegory ” and I would bet His IQ would get Him into the Mensa Institute,enough smoke blowing though ,sometimes you have to read between the lines.
    I have shifted gears all my life and I will tell you this an automatic is an upgrade,some people that love manuals dont even like to use them ,they skip gears take off in high gears ,and use the clutch to hold the vehicle on the hills ,so my hat is off to the real manual Folks who drive the dang things right ,but not to the crowd that do not like them because they are afraid they may have to service them or have them serviced or just plain Luddites.
    What I despise is the dangerous controls on the brakes and traction of the vehicle,that prevent you from driving the dang thing properly and not to mention the (for me anyway ) electronic gizmos ) and airbomb devices that will sometimes injure themselves in a crash.I have finally Manned up and realize and admit most crashes I am in are either my fault or caused by someone(sometimes both parties have a share in the blame) an accident is a meteor going through your deck lid or a Boulder crushing your Bonnet.if I crash on the ice .I have to ask myself “what business did I have being out in these conditions?” you get the picture “stuff happens ” but not very often .

    • Kevin, you’re correct about accidents. I got charged for one that was a failure of GM’s wonderful anti-lock brake system. It simply wouldn’t let me use more than a small amount of brake. I had it happen twice more after totally rebuilding the truck only without having a wreck. I unplugged it and left it unplugged since it had no computer. After that, It would lock the tires and stop in any condition, just like the old ones.

  8. Eric, have you done a post where you identify the most reliable bets in the used car market?

    I agree that now is a pretty good time to pick up a low mileage used car. I would not consider anything model year 2015 or 2016 for many reasons you’ve described in other posts including fuel injectors inside the cylinder.

    I’m in need of a commuter car for A2B driving and part of me is thinking to go with the newest and lowest mile car I can find in the “sweet spot” 2008 – 2012 model years like a Toyota Yaris hatchback or a Honda Civic Coupe. I really don’t want infotainment and touch screen navigation so part of me is also leaning towards an Acura RSX, or a 2004 or 2005 Honda Civic SI hatchback – the downside here being that these cars are older, and even if you can find a low mileage example they tend to have the plastic fixtures falling apart and Stereos dying.

    Have you covered your favorite options in the used car market in a separate post? Perhaps by segments for example pickup trucks, compact cars, midsize cars

    I was trying to figure out how to ask you this question on the contact you section but that page was 10000 pages long and I couldn’t scroll to the bottom on a tablet.

    Thank you in advance

  9. Hi Eric, just to say I enjoy your blog now and then (via LRC) and your podcasts with Tom Woods are always a delight.

    I’ve never had a car (urban type) and no longer even drive (license expired) but it’s interesting to follow the trends and economics. Last weekend I went for an 8 hour drive with relatives (my nephew drove a rented GM minivan) and as I am rarely in cars these days I was astounded by all the electronics. I noted to my 88 y.o. father that the days when one could tinker and maintain one’s own car (as he did as a kid) are long gone due to all the computers and software involved now.

    I recall your making this point on the Tom Woods show. At this stage with modern cars it’s almost like an iPhone — one “owns” it but is dependent on software upgrades or purchasing a new model. One has lost any sense of autonomy or true ownership of an automobile, or even a way of knowing what is wrong with it. And we hear stories of people having their cars remotely disabled if they don’t pay their monthly payments!

    Anyway as you and others (e.g. Chris Martenson and Wolf Richter) are pointing out, there is a real auto loan bubble and it is going to burst hard.

    Thanks for your posts and insight and humour.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Miles!

      I took my old Pontiac today… it never fails to remind me of better days. Not necessarily in terms of “efficiency” or (much less) “technology.” I mean the pleasure that attends driving a car that’s not just another homogenized, over-teched computer on wheels. While it’s absolutely true that a car like mine might break down or have some problem or other, it’s also true that the fix is usually pretty simple, inexpensive and hand tool-doable. Often, it is just a mechanical adjustment; no parts replacement involved.

      Of course, I am also partial to turbo-jet aircraft, so I suppose I am a kook that way!

      PS: My wife and I love the game…

  10. Looking at a site like Beepi, listing lightly used cars, I still get the sense that used cars are expensive. In other words, there has not been a flood of new supply to swamp the demand.

    And yet, I concur that all those new cars coming off leases, etc. should be swamping demand. My conclusion: There’s a new factor at work, probably the developing world, importing any quality used car it can get its hands on.

    • It’s the easy financing. My local used lot used to have a modest selection and had cash prices on everything. Now, nobody can afford the cash price, so they jack the price up even more, add on a few years of high interest rates, bundle those contracts up and sell them on the stock market. Some will literally refuse to sell for cash as they make so much money on the financing.

      My local lot is flush with inventory these days, as they literally have no money tied up in their stock.

      • I have run into the ‘refuse to sell for cash’ thing before – sort of. Was wanting to pick up a beater S10 work truck, found one at a buy here pay here lot that probably booked for $2500 or so. I asked how much they wanted for the truck, in cash, sales guy says $10k. After confirming that we were both talking about the same truck, I walked away smh. Assuming $10k was the same as the total of all payments after financing.
        I’ve seen plenty of reasonably priced vehicles on craigslist of late, just have to do the leg work to avoid scams/lemons…

  11. MR PETERS ,I VE WRITTEN YOU BEFORE ONTHE NO.OF NEW CARS IVE HAD STARTING BACK IIN 1959,BUT JUST A SMALL STORY ,THIS MONDAY I WAS AT THE CHEVY DELEALERWHERE I BOUGHT MY 14 CRUZ AND WAS GETTING MY LAST FREE OIL CHNGE EVEN THOUGH IT WAS FREE FRO 24,000 AND I HAVE 14,500ON THE CLOCK.24MOS IS THE ETIME LIMIT.ANY WAY IM STANDING JUSTOUTSIDE THSHOW ROOM WHEN A GUY COMES UP AND SAYS AREYOU LOOKING AT A CAMARO TO BUY AND I SAIDNO WAS GETTING REVICE.WE GOT INTO A CONVERSATION ,HE WAS THERE TO LOOK/BUY A NEW P.U.THAT WAS RIGHT NEXT TO THE CAMARO .AND I AHTE THIS DEALSHIP AS THEY ARE CRIMINALS TO MUCH TO GO INTO,BUT I THOUGHT I WOULD SHOW HIM THE DEALER PACK THEY PUT ON ALL THEIR VEHICLES .THIS IS ON THE FACTORY STICCKER ADDED BY THE DEALER ,ALOT OF CHEAP NOTHING AND PI TRIING ETC ,AND THE P.U.HAD ZERO OF ANYTHING ADDED AND SO ISHOWED HIM THE PACK FOR 1500.00 .HE COMPLETELY IGNORED THAT AND ENDED UP BYING THE TRUCK .HE WAS HEL BENT ON GETTING HIS NEW TO AND PAID AT LEAST 1500 TO MUCH.TELL ME THE AMERICAN PBLIC IS NOT THE DUMBEST IGNORANT MORONS EVER CREATED.

    • Hi RA,

      Please stop it with the ALL CAPS! Is there a problem on your end? Press the caps unlock button! Your posts are unreadable as is (ALL CAPS).

      And they ask me why I drink…

      • Caps or no caps, the guy is obviously a disrespectful moron if he continues to leaves steaming piles like this on your site. Why even let the posts of this idiot through? Is there some gem of knowledge in that crap that I am overlooking?

      • He may need new reading glasses, or cataract surgery? some cannot read smaller print or he may be just trying to get the point across? Here is my take: Gov wants everyone on bicycles or roller skates, as it is pushing agenda 21 or 2030 renamed full force. Environmental gov. green freaks want cars so pricey, many can’t afford new (auto co. ceo’s are CFR members) and pushing prices to go up, bleeding the middle class dry. People I know go to new dealers( never used) to get better “pre owned cars” with low mileage, as some trade every two or three years.

    • He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans…..for nobody. Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to, isn’t he a bit like you and me. Nowhere man don’t worry, take your time don’t hurry. Nowhere man, the world is at your command. He’s as blind as he can be, just sees what he wants to see, nowhere man can you see me at all? stumble your way to your nearest stealership nowhere man and sign your life away…

      • Well she got her Daddy’s car
        And she’s cruising thru the hamburger stand now
        She forgot all about the library
        Like she told her old man now
        And with the radio blasting
        Goes cruising just as fast as she can now

        And she’ll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes the T-Bird Away

        Well the girls can’t stand her
        Cause she walks looks and drives like an ace now
        She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman Chariot race now
        A lot of guys try to catch her
        But she leads them on a wild goose chase now

        And she’ll have fun fun fun
        Till her Daddy takes the T-Bird away

        Well you knew all along
        That your Dad was getting wise to you now
        And since he took your set of keys
        You’ve been thinking that your fun is all through now

        But you can come along with me
        Cause we got a lot of things to do now

        And we’ll have FUN FUN FUN now that daddy took the T-Bird away
        ” ” ”
        ” ” ”
        ” ” ”
        🙂

  12. Great article, Eric!

    I drive a 2000 F-150 which has about 265,000 on the odometer and, hopefully, will be able to make it to 500, 000 before I “upgrade”. However, I will be happy if I only make 350. It has served me well.

    You may be right about the “fatwa”. I can see the possibility that Uncle might decide to simply outlaw certain classes of vehicles like mine, say, all 1/2 ton pickups manufactured between 1980 and 2000. Just simply legislate them off the road and then authorize the cops and judges to impound and destroy any which they find. Can you imagine the boon that would be for the bankers and auto manufacturers? Or maybe I should have said boom. Problem is when the boom goes “boom” and turns to bust, scattering little pieces of chrome, vinyl, and plastic all over the landscape.

    Maybe I should buy an old 1950’s pickup instead and get it designated as a historical treasure. That way, no one could touch it.

    • Still driving my 1989 F150 which I purchased for cash in 1989.
      New engine last year (300 cid, straight six), also paid cash.
      Single cab, long bed, 4 speed stick (Borg Warner T18).
      Could not buy a new one like it, even if I wanted to.

      • Best engine Ford ever made and plenty grunt too. That pickup will still be going when most of them are just memories.

        • Does anybody remember how good the old presmog 240 I6 ran?Ak Miller said you get more honest usable power power out of the Ford “Six cylinder with the performance of eight ” then a small block Ford (which by the way with careful massaging is a fine light weight cast iron eight(lightest of the Big threes cast iron eight cylinder engines )fine for a pickup ,have many fond memories of a 351 Windsor that suprised a lot of Bowtie Guys.
          All that aside Ford had to dumb down that fine engine to get rid of it,such as Chevy had to do with the big blocks,that I6 was a pleasure in its inherent simplicity and durability and it even had decent economy and adequate power for most situations .Is Clifford Research still in business?

          • Ak generally had a turbo on whatever he was messing with. Somewhere I still have a book on Turbocharging from the 60’s written by Ak and someone else I can’t recall. Back then tuned port runners for intake and exhaust were rare and a turbo took most of the onus off sorry shaped intake chambers on heads, valve pockets, etc. You’d probably have to find a truck charge cooler or southern engineer one since most trucks back then didn’t have them either.

            I once had a home built Cummins of the 335 variety but made with parts for other engines. It would blow 400’s off the road with 55,000 lb loads but you had to keep one eye on the pyrometer to not melt it down. It had a shutterstat on it and it wouldn’t really open part way so when it went from being closed to open it would make you jump outta your skin.

            It would do 85 up hill and down and with no mufflers it was a pleasure to pass under a bridge.

            There wasn’t a cop behind every bush back then and the middle of the night when the temps dropped down and the humidity came up we’d all run hard across the state. Even without a radar detector CB’s would let you know if some nefarious creature was lurking somewhere out there in the wee hours so everybody would pass by just easing along and then spool em up and make em howl when he was out of sight.

          • The 240 and 300 are the ‘big block’ straight sixes. They are typically found in trucks and occasionally the larger cars like the Galaxie.

            The 144,170,200,and 250 are the small block sixes.

    • Hi Rush,

      Yeah, I know. You’re right. It’s tragic. Especially because people who try to/want to live within their means are effectively forced to go into debt, too – because the cost of everything is driven up as a result of debt-financing.

    • I pay cash for used cars (and even work-trucks)- Never had a car payment in my life (and I’m 54). I don’t do debt. I save and pay cash for what I want/need. What I save in interest, and not having to carry full-coverage insurance; and in being able to negotiate better deals from private parties, means that my money goes a lot further.

      I’m a freak!

      (And as far as I’m concerned, they can take their airbags and automatic trannies and touch-screens, and shove them up their asses!)

      And ABS -cars don’t even stop right anymore! I’m just so sick of it all. I want out!!! F$%^ what the Western world has become!

      • That’s what cash for clunkers was for. Ever see the videos of what it took to kill some of those engines?

        Some friends had a ’93 Chevy Ext. cab half ton pickup. They hadn’t kept it shiny like mine but it didn’t get worked or washed for that matter. Of course it cranked up and ran fine, transmission shifted fine, nothing the matter except it wasn’t “new”. They trade it on a couple new shitmobiles.

        When I couldn’t believe what they’d done with a perfectly fine pickup I was miffed. I told the guy I would have bought it from them no problem, they were great pickups. Naw, he says, we ran it down an old rough road all the time and the shocks were gone and it creaked and rattled. It was dirty and trashed out, yada yada yada……

        Old hell yes, I understand. New door pins, new door gaskets, new shocks and a good cleaning and it would have only been as good as new for anther 20 years. So now you have two new shitmobiles you won’t take down that road cause they’d fall apart. Good move man, good move.

  13. TorLibertarian, Your comments on this site are almost always far too long, which is why I almost always never read your comments. FWIW, you would have more readers – hence, more influence on the discourse – if you could condense your thoughts.

    • I agree, Wilhelm…

      Tor’s an interesting guy, but – as you note – he sometimes veers off course on long tangents that are as long as a proper feature article. Too long for the format.

      • IS IT REALLY THAT HARD TO READ CAPSLOCK? WHO WROTE THE FATWA AGAINST THIS, ARE YOU REALLY UNABLE TO READ IT? I DON’T SEE WHY NOT.

        ALSO, SAYING THIS CASE IS SHOUTING IS A BIT OF A STRETCH. JUST SAYIN. TRY READING THIS.

        THE CAR BUBBLE … AND CASH FOR CLUNKERS II?

        A GUY WHO SMOKES METH CAN PULL A WEEK OF 15 HOUR DAYS. BUT COME NEXT WEEK… .METH HEAD
        THAT’S HOW ARTIFICAL “INCENTIVES” WORK ON THE ECONOMY. ON THE MACRO LEVEL, IT IS THE BOOM – AND BUST – BUSINESS CYCLE, WHOSE UNNATURAL PEAKS AND VALLEYS ARE CAUSED BY MANIPULATION OF MONEY AND CREDIT, WHICH CAUSES EXCESSIVE AND UNWARRANTED “INVESTMENT” THAT – INEVITABLY – LEADS TO A DOWNTURN (OR EVEN A CRASH) WHEN THE ARTIFICIALLY INDUCED SUPPLY IS DISPROPORTIONATE TO DEMAND. THE HOUSING BUBBLE OF THE EARLY 2000S IS AN OBVIOUS EXAMPLE OF THIS.
        CASH FOR CLUNKERS (SAME ERA) IS ANOTHER – AND ITS UNFORTUNATE EFFECTS ARE JUST NOW BEGINNING TO BECOME OBVIOUS.
        AS WITH HOUSING IN THE EARLY 2000S, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECIDED IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO “STIMULATE” NEW CAR SALES BY ENACTING A PROGRAM THAT PAID PEOPLE TO THROW AWAY PERFECTLY GOOD USED CARS. THE IDEA BEING THAT THEY WOULD THEN BUY NEW CARS TO REPLACE THE ONES THROWN AWAY.
        MANY (BUT NOT ALL, BEAR WITH) DID SO. THIS CREATED A BOOM IN NEW CARS SALES. NOT ONLY BECAUSE THERE WERE FEWER GOOD USED CARS AVAILABLE, BUT ALSO BECAUSE THE ONES THAT REMAINED HAD GONE UP CONSIDERABLY IN PRICE DUE TO (WAIT FOR IT) LIMITED SUPPLY. THIS ARTIFICIAL SCARCITY IN TURN BECAME THE ARTIFICIAL INCENTIVE TO BUY A NEW CAR.

        ANNOYING MAYBE, UNREADABLE NO.

        • Hi Tor,

          The ALL CAPS thing is a form of illiteracy as well as uncivil. Is that much to ask, really? I don’t think it is. I’ve asked him nicely three times. If he doesn’t listen and does it again, I’m just going to delete his posts.

          • Fair enough. Another great comment, I might add. I guess I’m intrigued by the whole capslock phenomenon, myself.

            I truly appreciate you humoring us deviants as much as you do. I don’t know that I can offer you much of value in trade, but I’m always on the lookout.

            Perhaps any octogenarians in attendance could add eric or this website as a beneficiary in their wills. If it’s large enough, your name could be added as a sponsor to the masthead; and it doesn’t cost anything right now; and it might really help eric and this site out a lot.

            Also, I’ll put the overflow text of my long rambling posts in this subverse: “meta.” It’s a place for autistic works of fiction like mine.
            https://voat.co/v/meta

            Finally, this may be the only all capslock forum you’ll find on the net. All y’all feel free to stop by “capslock”, if playing at being uncivil and illiterate is kinda your thing.
            https://voat.co/v/CAPSLOCK

              • Can confirm. I was a piano prodigy at a very young age. Later I got into building my own synthesizers and playing in bands.

                I always ended up being the guy with all the expensive equipment and zero social cache from it.

                Sure I could regale you all with theories of digital sampling, saw tooth, triangle, sine, and square waves but then you’d zzzzzzzzz….
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O2aH4XLbto

          • KEEP ON TRUCKIN GOOD BUDDY.

            The U.S. Government has arrested the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, the world’s largest torrent site. The 30-year-old Ukrainian was arrested in Poland today and is charged with criminal copyright infringement and money laundering. In addition, a federal court in Chicago has ordered the seizure of several KAT domain names.
            https://archive.is/4URHh

            • Another incident of US and global hegemoniacal controllers running scared of Torrent and any other “uncontrollable” thing of any sort. If they can’t tax it and control it’s content or even understand it, kill it is their motto. Back to the old hammer(and sickle)and nail syndrome.

              This is the very group we’ll be fighting soon, not as we now do but quite literally fighting as in slinging lead and using codes they can’t understand and break to use their own weapons against them.

              What our future looks like is a bloody friggin mess and most likely the annihilation of most human life if not all types of life on earth. These fuckers would rather destroy everything than not control it…..totally and completely.

              • these is the kind of activity that steeeels eric work for freeeee but also where online freedom comes from; its complicated i spose, no easy answers

              • They’re like a virus, completely lacking the foresight to realize that once you’ve slain the host you’re gonna die too.

  14. We saw the same thing happen with college. Government guaranteed huge loans to encourage poor people to go. Colleges compensated by raising the tuition. Now, a $30000 loan for school is normal and few people can afford to go without incurring debt. I’m glad to see Mike Rowe’s movement to encourage people to consider other options.
    Also, Hillary will have to pry my lovingly maintained and perfectly behaved 2006 Mustang convertible from my cold dead hands.

    • Now Hitlery and Bernie are both running on “free” college for everyone. The damned country is broker than a stepped-on cookie and they offer free everything.

      At least in the nearest tiny town to me, the county seat, there’s a homebuilt offroad vehicle sitting there with signs all over it “Trump Mobile”.

      • They need college to be free because the gunvermin has the economy so screwed up that there are few decent jobs available, let alone ones that pay enough to pay off student loans of $multi-K. Esp. if you majored in some weinie subject with no commercial value, e.g., ‘women’s studies.’

        • PtB, I’m reading this book, Hurricane Punch by Tim Dorsey about a serial killer but it’s fairly hilarious in its own right. The serial killer is applying for a job and has a fake resume’ as a college professor. He’s speaking with his interviewer and tells him the woes of academia. He tells him about everybody being under psychiatric care. “Don’t start. It’s a total snake pit. Everything is publish or perish. And you should see what gets published! Quasi Oligarchies and the Keynesian Feminist: Recipe for Orgasm or Armageddon?”

          That seems to sum up a great deal of academia these days. I wouldn’t know much about it but my wife and I have regular doctor visits plus it seems like I’m constantly somewhere having a finger shoved up my ass for some DOT thing. I wouldn’t mind so much, esp. since one of the examiners is a really attractive woman but you’d think while she’s poking around(she smells great too)she could give me a prostate massage and a reacharound just to show she appreciates repeat business. I get my fill of nonsensical articles via People and USA Today and Women’s Today or whatever the word following Women’s might be. They could at least leave a Penthouse or Used Truck Guide and Auction or Heavy Hauling.

  15. “Ten year car loans……?”

    It’ll Never Happen. And I’ll tell you why.

    Most of those electronic interface “gadgets” will become obsolete within four to seven years….at max.

    Even though underwriting guidelines went down the Rabbit Hole some while back, NOBODY is going to make a ten year loan on something that will be practically worthless in half that time.

    • I’ve read that auto manufacturers may start moving away from the fixed and proprietary systems. That would make upgrading possible. Of course that’s just going back to old ways where aftermarket stereos and such weren’t intentionally made difficult to install. Where common standards were more or less followed.

    • 8-year car loans have already been here for a while, so 10 years is not all that much of a stretch:

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/why-96-month-car-loans-are-a-very-bad-idea/article11521583/

      Debt is toxic, it’s really a form of slavery. I’d rather live simply and drive a beater. (I haven’t taken out a loan or any kind of credit in decades. For that matter I have no idea what my “credit score” is and don’t much care.)

      • Leasing vehicles is more profitable than selling vehicles, it has an added benefit of bringing the customer back for another fleecing.

        • About 25 years ago or so my oldest sister(RIP)was telling me her youngest boy who was starting in his own business had to have a pickup(well, I’d have bought a used van cheap but what do I know?). He did need something to haul equipment and compressed gas cylinders in and had no real credit. He had a nice 77 Silverado though about 10 years old but i guess he had to have a new pickup, the way youngsters do(I have never had a new vehicle). He couldn’t get a down large enough or a loan for some reason, mostly since he’d never been in debt.

          She tells me he leased a new GMC. Holy shit I replied, he’ll regret that. She’s clueless and says something most uninformed people say about leasing. I told her to wait and hear him scream when his lease was up. I got to hear it from him. He was breathless and miffed to the max. Hell, they demanded that pickup look just like new or he had to pay to make it look that way, just ridiculous. I just shake my head and agree with him and said I’d been waiting for the axe to fall since he leased it. Lesson learned and you couldn’t get him to lease a vehicle now. Well, he’s not like me. He wouldn’t be caught dead walking while I never had that much problem with it myself.

          When in college, my fabulously wealthy hotrod often sat in it’s fabulously lousy driveway while I walked 40 blocks to class and 40 blocks back…..often late at night and often in a damned Lubbock blizzard. Weather be damned, it was food and heat or large amounts of gasoline. I got learned up real quick. It barely moved one summer and part of another winter with the old Schwin 10 speed taking up the slack. I was never healthier either.

    • One logical next step: auto companies will stop selling cars and will only lease them. That way we will have no choice but to ‘upgrade’ every few years.

  16. Great stuff (again). Frustrating to watch us make the same stupid mistakes over and over. My dad was (is) a very frugal and financially conservative guy. Pay cash for everything you can. Never, ever finance hobbies. Drive your cars as long as you can keep them on the road. Be patient.

    I thought he was full of shit when I was younger. Now I that I’m older, I’ve become exactly the same. There’s something really liberating about paying cash for things. I drive an old truck because I want to, not because I have to. 70K for a new Tahoe? No fucking way. Trouble is, I don’t want the damn things when they are used, either.

    Sure, gadgets are fun. But I would give anything for a back-to-basics, manual transmission vehicle using modern materials and drivetrains. You can keep the complex climate control and entertainment shit.

    Now, get off my lawn.

    • The problem is the debt pushers know exactly how humans function. And on a cash basis a man cannot compete socially with those who use debt. Humans are shallow and compete for social status or the simulation there of. Debt allows a person to exceed his limitations and soon nearly everyone else is taking on debt to compete. Those who don’t fall behind. They are seen as poor.

      Somewhere there is great meme jpg showing a street scene of various people. Each is assigned a bubble giving a brief tally of his net worth. Everyone who is considered normal or rich in the photo has a negative number. The homeless beggar has a small positive number and thus the richest in the image. Yes, it’s not reality because there are many people who have a positive net worth still but the point its making is still very true.

    • I know how you feel. Only thing I like about new vehicles is the quiet(most of them)but quiet can be done on old vehicles too, just put sound-deadening of choice in various places, replace door gasket(and you can even add door gaskets if you’ll take the time) and that ’74 K5 will be quiet and smooth and when you need 4 WD you’ll have to get out and lock the hubs and move the transfer case lever but by god, that sumbitch WILL be in 4WD and it WiLL do it in the snow or mud or ice or all of those combined and no damned electrical connector or fancy switch will stop it, no mountain too high, no valley too low……

  17. Why is that my dumb farmer/rancher/gov-co subsidized, crack whore friends.
    Can’t figure out “why” if they were not willing,or able to borrow me 60k/zero interest on new pick up.How can gov-co?

    But than they would have to realize there willingness as complicit accomplice in social welfare.induced serf slavery ?

    Great article,as usual Eric

  18. Eric:

    Spot on. In anticipation of the coming blood in the streets around Detroit, we’ve sold our 2,700 ft McMansion (purchased foreclosed in 2010 for $169,000 – just sold for $360k) and are moving into the 1,200 ft. house we previously rented out.

    Now – it’s not all profit. We did put about $40k into the house since the kitchen, half bath and HVAC were stripped out. And this includes $0 for labor since the labor was supplied by yours truly.

    Still – I saw no reason that the house we were in was “worth” what we could sell it for. Also – property taxes are higher than our mortgage payment ($7k a year – yikes).

    Property “values” are ridiculously high around Detroit (and almost everywhere now). Haven’t we seen this movie before? What has fundamentally changed since the last crash?

    Oh yes – here’s what changed: More leverage has been the antidote for too much leverage. Free credit is the panacea for cheap credit. Subprime auto loans have replaced subprime mortgage loans.

    But now I see flyers coming in the mail for 3% down home loans again. REALLLY?

    I kicked myself for not selling our house last time we had >$200,000 in “equity” (in 2005). We ended up selling in 2009 for a loss (not upside down – but sold for less than we paid).

    I vowed we wouldn’t make that mistake again.

    Detroit is going to be hammered. You’d be amazed how many $50k plus cars I see driving around “working class” neighborhoods here.

    • HI Brent:

      Chicago area? I thought that’s where you were from some previous posts.

      My brother has a house in the “Oak Park” neighborhood around Chicago. I tried talking him into selling it (based upon what others were selling for around him)

      But he tends to drink the Kool Aid. Everything will get better as long as “candidate X” gets in office and so forth.

      Thanks

      Blake

      • yep… chicago area.
        Anywhere popular or with jobs $300K doesn’t buy much.

        If your brother is living in the house the problem of where to move to arises. Unless one is moving a long way away or to some economically depressed area there’s no profit to be had. It just gets sucked into where ever one moves.

  19. GM’s investor guidance is still cupcakes and roses. I don’t believe them – if customers aren’t buying, their outlook /at best/ can only be neutral. But probably ought to be negative.

    So far as what will happen next year — both Hillary and Trump are pretty smart. But they have a habit of trusting their own opinion over what experts tell them. They do not have a Jobs-ian Reality Distortion Field — demanding something be true doesn’t make it so. So I expect that emissions “goals” will be raised even further beyond the unobtainable.

  20. Super article – probably ten year car loans sweetened with some sort generous taxpayer funded “contribution” to reduce the cost and stimulate stimulate stimulate.

    • Used to make a few bucks selling cheap used cars out of my driveway. Find a car for sale on the side of the road for 3, 4, 5 hundred bucks, clean it up, detail it and a quick tune up, I could usually flip them pretty quick for a thousand or twelve hundred. I made a few bucks and a lot of people got decent cars that they could actually afford. Cash for clunkers put an end to that! Now, you’re lucky if you can find a piece of junk that doesn’t run for less than 3 grand. In order to flip that for a profit now you’re looking at a 5 or 6 thousand dollar price tag. Not too many people have that kind of cash to buy something out of my driveway. Off they go to the stealership to get ripped off, but hey, at least they’ll get financed to the tune of 5 times what the car is worth.

      • Around here government gets upset if you sell more than a handful of cars in a year. At that point licenses and likely more is required. An individual is also not allowed to pass through the title like a dealer is. Have to pay the state to title and register the car. Which also requires paying tax. And we all know why it’s set up this way.

        • I kept it pretty low key, never did more than one at a time and maybe one a month or so, depending on what I could find to flip. In my state, they put you in a Catch 22. If you sell more than 5 cars a year, you need a dealers license, but they only issue a certain number of licenses per town, so even if you wanted to, you can’t get one! That’s our government, always lookin’ out for us little people.

          • Ah yes the limited license. Where the license is worth more than the business its self and worthless without it. People struggling to find someone to sell their business to whom the license is transferable.

      • Maybe a slight exaggeration, but anything in the $1k range has about 200k on the clock. And modern cars are just not cost effective to fix at around that point.

        When I graduated engineering school, I though by this stage in my life I would have a couple Ferraris. Sadly, I’m moving backward and my cars are restoration projects from the 70’s and earlier, or mid 90’s vintage disposable appliances. At least I can incorporate the best of the new technology like auto overdrives and port injection.

        It would be nicer if I could see my way to having a new daily driver, but I won’t spend the money. Even though I can probably better afford it than 99% of the car buying public!

  21. If enough healthy clear minded Americans read this, you might see an end to the rainbow unicorn bubble blowing cycles that always end in conehead mass consumption unable to absorb all the overproduction and then the call Saul who ensures the whole clusterfuck is recklessly driven off the fiscal cliff by the crackhead economic lemming sector.

    Problem is hardly a one of us is healthy and clear minded in the least. You have fools buying mcmansions and mchoopties we can’t afford because we are all delusional cucks who deep in our guts have no core values and bedrock reason but only the grandiose delusional false self.

    The false self is the aspects of our personalities that’s adapted to threats. The false self is the part of ourselves that’s permanently adapted to threats. This mutated part of ourselves no longer consciously recognizes either the adaptation or the threat. Due to our cuck upbringing, this part of us has adapted to threats but we no longer consciously recognize or process either the adaptation or the threat.

    In my case the threat was being raised as a Roman Catholic which of course means there was a holy terror shitstorm of threats. Threats of hell, ostracism, social damnation, whatever, God’s disapproval, and so on.

    These are real threats, it was just like living as a captive of an invisible all powerful madmen. A skyfiend who would threaten to set fire to someone I loved. Or myself.

    If an adult made these threats without the approved narrative, that might land that adult in jail. But under cover of religion, those in authority can threaten to set fire to a child forever if he doesn’t obey you or listen to ghosts, then that is not considered a threat, that is considered Sunday School.

    And so, the part of you that adapts to your parents or your priests or your teachers threatening you, and which is so overwhelming it is psychologically almost impossible to hang onto the fact that there’s been this terrible threat, that is the part of you that I would call the false self.

    So when you’re threatened with hell or whatever it is, maybe the police or juvenile detention, but most us anyway, you’re threatened with hell or spanking or beating or being sent to your bed without supper or whatever threat is occurring, and you will adapt to that.

    You have to. I mean, your kids have to adapt to what their parents say. Parenting is the ultimate power trip. There’s no greater disparity in power between anyone, than between a parent and a child.

    So if the parent is making threats, then the child must adapt to those threats. Us parents who are making these threats believe that we are doing the right thing. Or at least doing the least harm possible that’s an option. Like when I sent my kids through the less evil Evangelical Lutheran church gauntlet, rather than sparing them the fire and brimstone mind games all together.

    No parent, or anyone in authority, really does something that they consciously and knowingly and openly describe as evil. Evil almost by definition is the opposite of whatever anyone is doing, which is why people who are doing evil have to redefine what they’re doing as the good, and anyone who interferes with all their child brain damaging and cuck breeding as the evildoers.

    So, parents who are threatening children, bullying children, hitting children, threatening them with all kinds of terrible secular and supernatural punishments obviously believe they’re doing it for the good.

    And so if, as a child, your parents tell you all about hell, and you’ll burn in hell if X Y and Z doesn’t happen, or you don’t do A, B, and C, and if you say to them, Mommy, Daddy, I will do A, B, and C because I’m frightened that you’re threatening me, I’m frightened of your threats, what would the parents say? The parents will say, that’s not right. We’re not threatening you, we’re saving your soul, this is God’s law, we’re just the messengers, we’re here to help, and so on.

    They instantly have to redefine it as something virtuous. And so, if you obey your parents out of fear, and you openly say to your parents, I don’t respect anything that you’re saying, I think that what you’re doing is evil but I will obey you because you’re bigger and you have shown your capacity to be abusive, so I will out of fear surrender to your abuse.

    Maybe there’d be a few completely crazy sadistic parents who would get off on that, or find that talk thrilling or whatever, but most parents would not. They would say, no, I don’t want you to obey me out of fear, I want you to obey me because it’s the right thing to do, and all this that mainstream pablum and the other.

    And so you have to begin the process of pretending that the threat is not a threat. You hear this all the time, well, my parents hit me, but I turned out well, My parents hit me but that’s because I didn’t listen and I was a hell-raiser and I was a willful and disobedient blah blah blah.

    All this nonsense. It’s what people say. So, they have changed the threat into a necessary virtue. A regrettable but necessary virtue. And so they have gone through the process of adapting themselves to a threat and forgetting both the adaptation and the threat.

    And now it’s simply become, I conformed to good behavior. I was rescued from bad behavior, I acted well, I acted rightly. Not, I conformed to a threat. And this, of course, whatever we describe as virtuous is what our future will become. If we describe spanking as virtuous, then we will spank.

    How could it be otherwise? How could you define something as virtuous, have the full power to enact it, and not do it? Especially when not doing it creates pain and trauma. If you were spanked and you don’t spank, then it’s difficult and painful, right? ‘Cause you have to return to your original experience of the threat and the adaptation.

    Now, the reason of course that we recast the actions of our parents as virtuous is because they do. And because if we don’t, then the punishments will escalate. If you are morally accurate about the behavior of a person who’s aggressing against you, then the aggression will almost certainly escalate. And no child wants to find out where the escalation will end, right?

    What if the child is going to be spanked, and the child runs away? And then when the child is grabbed, the child bites and the child kicks and screams and then like, what does the parent do? Does the parent then just give up and say, oh, okay, well, you’re really fighting back, so I guess I’ll stop.

    No, we tend to view it as a battle of wills wherein we must dominate or forever lose our authority, or whatever it is, and it’s going to escalate to the point where, y’know, serious injury might even result if not death. Avoiding this scenario, is what convinced me to add a little christianity to the family mix, much as it damaged me psychologically growing up.

    The defense of immorality, which arises out of a merging with the defenses of the immoral actor, the abuser, is very hard to identify, very hard to undo. And it’s a very rigid and deep defense. So we stare at screens and go deep into debt because we’re all malformed and maladapted and desperately in pain. Or our loved ones are, so we bribe them with funny money so they’ll stay and hope we keep our fiscal heads above water.

    It’s very very hard to dislodge. And certainly I think once the true self, which is the original, empirical, philosophical, moral, and ethical experience of being harmed, of being threatened, of being bullied and abused, if the defenses have become so merged with the attacker that the defenses are now the internal abuser, then in a sense our inner child can never come out, because the abuser has been internalized and therefore cannot be escaped.

    And therefore the inner child cannot be recovered. And at that point, the defense has become terminal to the true self. And we really don’t ever want to get in that position, it’s not a pretty thing to see or to even imagine. And this is why our defenses harden unless we work to break free of the them, the armor thickens. We go from snail without a shell to spiky dragon crustacean entombed in obsidian.

    And we look out our windows at a world with no place for free flying dragons.

    So, it’s really really important to go back to ponder and heal and to use libertarian philosophy, and be able to universalize what you’ve experienced, to denormalize what you experience if it was traumatic. And begin to chip away at the conformity to virtue, which is both forgetting the conformity and forgetting the evil that was done to you.

    That is the red pill best way to recover the true self, which is the only part of you that really is capable of intimacy, of love, of attachment, of generosity, or all of the virtues. Because everything else is done through fear, which is not virtuous.

    The blue pill way is to minimize potential injury from the threat and to praise the immorality of the parent or teacher or preacher or policeman or whoever is threatening you. And that kind of moral compliance is a habit that is best perfected by becoming universal.

    Defenses are originally designed to protect us from a difficult or dangerous situation. If the situation is repetitive, then the defenses spread and harden and become a suit of armor.

    Initially we clank around in that suit of armor, and then eventually we become just empty. It just hollows us out, and we turn into a vapor and a ghost and a cartoon and all of that. We are then empty armor. And the more universal things are, or the more universally that things are required, the more the defenses become the very personality that they were originally designed to protect.

    Through mass self destruction we are threatened by a parent or authority figure, and the threat is continual and universal and moral, and if the authority is particularly controlling, in other words, they don’t sort of lash out like an angry bear whenever they’re discontented, but they’re proactive and fetishistic and micromanaging and helicoptering and hyper-controlling, then the threat is omnipresent.

    The threat is perpetual. And if the threat is perpetual, then the defense must be perpetual. And thus the defense adaptation will jump to the defense of the attacker, because the defenses of the attacker and the defenses of the victim have merged.

    Because the attacker thinks that the attack is moral, and the only way to minimize the attack or to escape the attack is to agree that the attack is moral and therefore the defenses of the abuser and the defenses of the victim merge. And that’s very hard to undo, because fundamentally it’s a moral argument. And that’s how we’ve all become proud to be Americans, where at least we know we’re free.

    • I could not agree with your post more Tor Libertarian! It also seems strange to me that even the state claims to consider parents as being guardians of their children as opposed to ‘owning’ them like private property is owned; yet both entities are in a constant battle as to who ‘owns’ the children.
      The state really owns nothing, and everything it claims to have is stolen property. Show me the bill of sale provided by willing sellers in the 18th century to the U.S. state of the land that the state now claims to own or the ability to rule over.
      Likewise: I challenge all ‘parents’ and other adults to show me the title of self-ownership that their parents signed over to them upon reaching ‘maturity’ , and I ask what age they were when that happened. I also ask if their parents considered the states arbitrary rules concerning the age of consent, drafting age, voting age, no more spanking/assault age, or drinking age played a part in their parents decision to sign over self-ownership papers? Most of them would likely reply that their self-ownership comes from their Creator or from natural law, and not from man or from the state. These same people would probably still think that they ‘own’ their children.
      How much less child abuse would there be if people genuinely respected the concept of self-ownership and the ownership of everyones actual property? Parents seem to view themselves as heirarchical micro-states when they should be viewing themselves as guardians of new and inexperienced self-owning people.

      • The state is an artifice for the ruthless cuckmasters like Frank Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards. If you assign any value to such parchment scribbling “founding fathers”, you are a human housekept and willing cuck, and not a true man directly rooted the world you were once freely born into.

        Every child, unless you need him to be put to work, because you’re severely impoverished, is a new opportunity for something brand new to individuate. All that garbage in your head that isn’t really so, isn’t something you need pass on to the next generation.

        If you’ve got a daughter that weighs less than 90 pounds and is completely dependent on you for her existence, why do you need to further reinforce your physical, mental, and financial dominance over her any further by filling her head with all kinds of suboptimal ethical clusterfucks, like the kind you had drummed into in your messed up childhood.

        Mine likes dance, music, fashion, makeup, horror movies, MacBooks, iPhones, and many other individuating things that she chose of her own volition. She does claim to hate Hillary, but I doubt she knows much about her one way or the other.

        I hope she never becomes like most of the people here. The ones that have closed their imaginations and individuating machineries to become serious people. Who have serious conversations about serious matters. What a laugh, all such grandiose cuckeries truly are.

        The truth is, most people are cucks. Those who submit any portion of their natural authority to the government, and its goals, are cucks, and not the true father of their own children. That’s why I would never use my real name nor my family’s on the internet when I’m discussing the kinds of things I do here.

        The cucks will make cuckish arguments like: you have to divulge your personal details and uniquely identifiable stories on the net if you want to influence the debate, and to be accepted by your fellow cucks. Forget that.

        The complicit cucks are powerless sheeple that voluntarily use their real name on the internet. If you, a stranger, ask them where they live or work, they’ll tell you. Even if you’re just some random on the internet. Maybe even a government shill.

        By answering these sort of cuckish interrogations, they forfeit their privacy to half the entire world, the half that has access to the internet and its all knowing Skynet search engines anyway.

        The blockheaded cucks swallow the state’s controlling paradigms, such as each of us has a singular full legal name that we must defend the honor of; which is so obviously a false virtue they should recoil in horror at themselves for falling for such nonsense.

        In some ways, the lets just be transparently ourselves on the net cucks, are lower even than the clover, who at least was smart enough not to give his true name to the other cybercucks here. The ones who imagine themselves his betters because of their better facility with the largely ornamental tool of language.

        You don’t need to be anyone’s cuck, nor answer to anyone’s expectations. Be an interesting individual, that isn’t like everyone else whenever possible. That’s where freedom begins.

  22. Huxley and Viagra references in a post about used cars and economic central planning.

    Hat tip to you sir for your mastery of the written word.

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