How auto sales are bolstering the economy in one chart

at 11:10 AM ET, 10/14/2011

President Obama is slated to visit Michigan today with the South Korean president, touting U.S. car manufacturers who could benefit from the free-trade agreement that just passed Congress. He’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of new auto sales numbers that have just been released. According to advance estimates from the U.S. Census bureau, retail sales were up strongly in September — 1.1 percent above August’s number and 7.9 percent above September 2008. And the automobile industry has helped fuel that boom, performing better on the whole than the rest of the retail sector:
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

The White House has credited President Obama’s push for the $14 billion auto bailout for reviving the industry. “At the beginning of his administration, President Obama made the very tough and unpopular decision to restructure GM and Chrysler — a decision that saved over a million American jobs and revitalized an entire American industry,” a White House official told Politico’s Ben White.

There are, however, many other factors at play, including loosening credit to consumers. Automakers and lenders, for example, “are rushing to offer car loans to subprime borrowers for the first time since the recession,” DailyFinance explained last December. That’s a new development that the Obama administration may be less excited to tout.

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