Does the alleged “success” of the cash-for-clunkers program prove consumer confidence is on the rebound?
Cash-for-clunkers is the new handout program for car owners and car dealers. Bring in an old car with lower mileage than the latest models, and the government gives you $4,500 toward a new car.
It took about a nanosecond to dole out the first billion dollars. So Congress tossed another two billion into the pot.
Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, was at the controls when the Fed’s massive credit-for-clunky-mortgages program helped create the housing bubble. So he’s an expert. He’s been in the news lately saying that although he has his doubts about the clunkers program, its “success” shows renewed “confidence in the economy.”
Question: If the government simply threw bags of cash at people, and people stooped to pick up this cash, would this also prove “confidence in the economy”?
Observation: The clunker subsidies comes from somebody. Because the recipients didn’t directly drop by, directly put a gun to our heads, and directly compel us to write out a check for $4,500, we’re not supposed to notice. But if you had just been forced to turn over $4,500 to subsidize somebody’s new car, you’d probably say your household economy had just taken a hit.
Your confidence might even be shaken.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.