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der Tagesspiegel, Germany

Booming US Car Sales
Could Lead to the Next Crisis

By Henrik Mortsiefer

The American automobile market is booming; the crisis the industry went through in 2009/2010 appears to have been largely forgotten. Low interest rates are stimulating business — but the brakes might be applied sooner than anyone expects.

Translated By Ron Argentati

5 January 2013

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Germany - der Tagesspiegel - Original Article (German)

The American dream doesn't work without cars. Owning your own pickup or having a limousine in the garage is something almost every American wants. Those who can afford it fulfill their dreams of mobile independence in chrome and leather. On the street, the norm is “bigger, faster, wider.” Carbon dioxide emission figures? A foreign language in the United States. The fact that most customers don't have the ready cash to buy a Ford SUV or even a BMW X5 doesn't bother people because low interest rates are stimulating car sales. The crisis the industry suffered through in 2009/2010, which some manufacturers survived only because of government bailouts, seems largely forgotten.

American consumers have very short memories and their credit card financed lifestyles don't seem to cause them any concern for the future. Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche are overjoyed that their cars are so desired by those upper class customers overseas while their European sales lag. But they shouldn't consider their distant customer base as permanent. Another fiscal cliff or stricter environmental laws could put the brakes on the auto boom. What happens when millions of Americans get into debt over their heads has already been shown by the American real estate bubble.



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