Economy is coming back

The US economy is definitely coming back and it will be interesting to see how that affects environmental issues. The unemployment rate is coming down and we see things like new car sales steadily improving. In November, the automakers reported great sales results, and that was particularly true of the Big Three. With GM, Ford and Chrysler doing well, that has a ripple effect throughout the entire economy. Suppliers get busy, more workers work, and then that translates into more consumer activity.

For environmentalists, this will change the conversation if it continues. During a recession, it becomes harder to deal with issues like global warming, pollution and conservation as people are worried about jobs. Green energy investments should be a priority, but some fight them and argue we should focus on things like oil pipelines. If the economy improves, it makes it easier to argue for longer term investments that can help the environment.

The car industry offers an interesting example. Surprisingly, the Obama administration was able to push through tougher fuel economy standards even during a recession. High gas prices definitely helped. But car sales were slow as people flocked to used cars, as you can see from high used car prices in 2011 that were also tied to tight supplies. And that’s one reason new car sales are now doing well. The economy is getting better so more people are looking, but new cars are more competitive with high used car prices. Also, people get more for their trade-ins, so that used Peugeot 206 can get a great price on a trade-in.

The auto recovery is leading a broader economic rebound, so get ready to reset the environmental discussions.


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