How the Pandemic Scrambled Long-Term Driving Patterns: Americans Already Drove Less, Hidden by Population Growth

Bounce back to what? The Pandemic Scrambled Long-Term Trends in both directions.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Total miles driven in September on all roads and streets in the US fell by 8.6%, or by 23.4 billion vehicle miles, compared to a year earlier, to 248.3 billion miles, according to the Federal Highway Administration on Friday. While that year-over-year decline is huge by historic standards, it’s the smallest year-over-year decline since the Pandemic started.

Normally, in September, miles driven drop from the summer driving months. Last year, the drop from August to September was 5.2%. This year, the drop from August to September was only 1.2%, perhaps impacted by the calendar shift of Labor Day. Nevertheless, this lower than normal month-to-month drop means that the recovery of miles driven continues:

Total vehicle miles driven for the first nine months of 2020 fell by 14.5% from the same period last year – or by 355 billion miles – to 2.09 trillion miles of travel. This is a historic decline that knocked the nine-month total back to where it had been in 2001.

During the Great Recession, total miles driven also dropped, and did so for four years in a row, but by a lot less than this time around. From peak (first nine months in 2007) to trough (first nine months in 2011), total vehicle miles driven declined by “only” 2.9%.

Miles driven took a hit no matter where the driving occurred – Urban Interstate, Urban Other Arterial, Other Urban, Rural Interstate, Rural Other Arterial, and Other Rural. Compared to September last year, they’re still down the most on Urban Interstates (-10.8%, red line) and Other Urban (-11.7%, black line) with rural areas being down about 5%:

Miles driven per person of Driving Age

Total miles driven per year hit a record in 2019. But the number of people of driving age (approximated by Census Bureau’s civilian population over the age of 16) grew faster than miles driven, after 2003.

In 2003, based on Census Bureau estimates, there were 221.2 million people aged 16 or older in the US (who were not in penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged, etc. and who were not on active duty in the Armed Forces). In 2019, there were 259.2 million. An increase of 17%. But over the same period, miles driven increased by only 10%.

Miles driven per persons over 16 has been in a long-term decline since the peak in 2003 (at 13,400 miles), with a sharp drop-off during the Great Recession, and a half-baked recovery starting in 2014. In 2019, the miles driven per potential driver was down to 12,600 miles. Then came the Pandemic. Over the past 12 months through September – to approximate the year 2020 – miles driven per potential driver plunged to 11,200 miles, the lowest in decades:

Why the long-term decline per potential driver?

The question arises: Do rideshare companies, such as Lyft and Uber, have anything to do with the lower miles driven per potential driver before the Pandemic? The idea would be that people got rid of their car or never owned a car, and rely on rideshare services to get around.

In theory, the answer would be No, because the miles driven by rideshare vehicles are also captured by this data and are part of this total.

In practice, the equation may be more complex because people without a vehicle may also rely more on riding with friends, using mass transit, walking, riding a bike, etc., in addition to using rideshare services. And this would reduce the miles driven.

Before the Pandemic, there was a trend that people – often younger people and empty-nesters – flocked to city centers, following the construction boom of apartment and condo towers. They would live closer to the action and would have to commute less or could walk to work, etc. And working from home has been a trend for years, and that too impacted how much people drive. Mass transit is also a factor, particularly in cities where commutes by car had become hellish.

But the Pandemic scrambled the trends.

We have already seen a significant outflow of high-rise apartment dwellers from city centers to the suburbs or further afield. And these people would drive more. We have also seen that usage for mass transit has plunged and remains low, and many people who used to take mass transit are now driving (the hellish commutes have gotten a lot better in some places).

On the other side of the ledger, working from home has become mandatory with many companies for their office employees, and this reduces miles driven.

Whether the trend to move to the suburbs or further afield will be sustained remains to be seen.  Working from home has been a trend for years. The Pandemic made it the rule for office workers. Many companies have made work-from-home permanent or a permanent option for many of their employees. Others have not. After the Pandemic, some of this will be reshuffled. But it appears likely that the trend of fewer miles driven per potential driver, after bouncing off the Pandemic low, will continue to trend lower. And this is another element in why the auto industry is so horribly mature.

Volkswagen has gotten the memo, after its dreams of diesel domination collapsed into Diesel Gate: The future is going to be EVs. These technologies are spreading to commercial trucks too, including at Volkswagen’s Traton, one of the largest truck makers in the world, acquirer of Navistar. Read… Volkswagen to Throw $86 Billion at EVs over 5 Years. GM, Ford, Others Plow Mega-Bucks into Shift to EVs. Tesla Instigated It

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  114 comments for “How the Pandemic Scrambled Long-Term Driving Patterns: Americans Already Drove Less, Hidden by Population Growth

  1. MarMar says:

    Hmm, all the commenters are over on the EV article. =)

    A reminder that this is a good trend – transportation is a huge percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, which we need to get zero (or even below). EVs will help in that regard, but driving and flying less will, also.

    • Old School says:

      I read a very long article about rep. Slotkin from rural Michigan who was able to keep her house seat. She is a smart person and has some could thoughts on the blue house losses which are pretty substantial.

      If you live in flyover country global warming is not a top ten issue. I understand it is in other parts of the country. Red state people are a little suspicious that manufacturing jobs left from regulated USA factories to dirty energy producers in other parts of the world.

      One freedom people of modest means have in the USA is the freedom to be mobile. Hope we can keep it.

      • MarMar says:

        If it’s not near the top issue, it would be wise to move it up. “[T]he sharpest rise in temperatures will be between the coasts as the Midwest endures longer and hotter summers, heavier rains and droughts that collectively are predicted to significantly reduce US agricultural production.”

        • Old School says:

          That’s your opinion. My opinion is the biggest issue is central banks and politicians have finanancialized the economy to 6.2 X the gdp about twice the long term average deceiving people that the country is wealthier than it is. Politicians don’t don’t talk about it, but are intent on pushing the ratio higher.

        • El Katz says:

          What would probably impact the climate more positively would be to get rid of those dang landscaping blowers and other power equipment that runs unnecessarily so city folk can have their manicured lawns and golf courses. Those engines are far dirtier than any modern automobile.

        • roddy6667 says:

          The people who can’t predict the weather 3 days from now are making presumptions about the weather decades from now. Forgive me for not panicking.

        • MarkinSF says:

          Which mimics the history of Planet Earth. Interior regions become hell holes during periods of extreme climate patterns. If you can afford to keep as close to the coasts as possible.

        • 728huey says:

          Actually, it’s a fact that for the past few years there had been prolonged heat waves, more damaging severe storms, and flooding in the middle of the country. Also, for those poo-poohing climate change predictions because someone can’t predict the weather over the next three days, remember that predicting weather is like day trading the stock market while predicting climate change is like investing for the long term. Sure, there will be anomalies, but the trends are there and are rather predictable.

        • Happy1 says:

          So if Minnesota becomes Nebraska this is the crisis of our time? We’ve got lots of bigger concerns.

        • MCH says:

          The fact that humankind has an impact on the environment is obvious. I don’t think people would deny that fact, the degree of impact is TBD, but the simple truth is, the larger the human population, the larger that degree of impact.

          I think it’s logical to err on the side of caution and assume the worst case in terms of impact, and then look to figure out how industries can change and adapt.

          I think the way to convince people isn’t really through yammering at them endlessly and telling them why they are wrong. It’s more about understanding where their concerns and figuring out the right way to address those, whether its through market forces or through other methods. Cause what if someone came along and told you that your way of life is responsible for XYZ bad things, what is the likely reaction?

          The funny thing is, for all of the bloviating about Elon being a shyster, he has actually done more on climate change than all of on yammering jackasses on TV put together. I think the world would end up a little better off with attentions paid to a few more Elons (who actually solves problems) and a lot less to the Gores and Gretas.

        • R Bacon says:

          Actually higher CO2 levels means higher plant growth. Without CO2, all higher level life on earth ceases to exist.

        • Lee says:

          “he has actually done more on climate change than all of on yammering jackasses on TV put together.”

          Well there are a lot of those yammering jackasses here in Oz and the politicians listening to their stupidity has really cost us a lot in terms of both dollars and water security.

          We had one bigwig climate change extremist (and that is exactly what they are) running around claiming that it would never rain again in OZ and that all the rivers and dams would dry up.

          So the great Labor State politicians in Victoria looked around and decided to build a desal plant.

          Just another boondoogle for Labor and awarding their union mates huge numbers of jobs at huge incomes. Some manual labor types were getting well over $A150,000 a year and even getting paid if they showed up drunk or on drugs to work at the plant.

          The building costs, you ask:

          The capital cost for the project was initially estimated to be $2.9 billion in the initial feasibility study; this was later revised to $3.1 billion and then to $3.5 billion. After the winning bidder was announced it was revised to $4 billion.

          And more costs………..

          …”with ongoing costs of $608 million a year even if no water is ordered.” And that payment goes for 27 years. So between $18 and $19 billion for nothing.

          Yep, we pay A$608 million bucks a year even if we order no water. Order water and we pay even more.

          Operating costs are additional too!!!

          It was completed in 2012 and not until 2017 was the first water ordered.

          The price of our water supply charge skyrocketed as did the cost of water.

          The price of water went from around A$1 per 1000 liters to A$3.30 at the high point. It has fallen to around $3 a thousand liters or so now. When they order water, we get hit with increased costs.

          And what about rain?

          Well it continued to fall and fill up the damn dams and even caused a lot of flooding.

          Now the government could have spent a billion bucks or so building more capacity to actually store water that flows and causes flooding in those areas, but they didn’t.

          So when we get those nifty bands of downpours and huge rains up in the north and northwest parts of the state we get flooding and none of that water is saved for use later.

          And our water storage facilities which haven’t been increased at all as the population of Melbourne went from 3 million to over 5 million people are now 75% full.

          With the La Nina predicted to happen and increased rainfall over the next 6 to 9 months, they will probably fill up even more.

          Oh, and if and when the plant ever operates, it becomes the biggest single energy user in the state. I’ve heard that they want to spend more bucks so that they can power it partly with solar panels, but I don’t know the status of that.

          Really green there right? Using up huge amounts of COAL fired electricity to make water……………….

          Hard to believe, but you just can’t make up some of the bs that goes on here in Victoria.

      • rankinfile says:

        Climate change is one thing,but more money in profit supersedes all,even pandemic infection.

        • R Bacon says:

          During the Cambrian Period, CO2 levels 20x higher than current levels. There was also exponential growth and diversity of life on earth. Just remember all global warming models have been wrong.

        • Gandalf says:

          R Bacon,

          A tiny little bit of knowledge is truly dangerous when used out of context-
          The Cambrian Period did have CO2 levels 20x higher than today….

          …. and as a result, global temperatures were much higher than today, there were no polar icecaps, there was a single giant ocean with sea levels much higher than today, and a single supercontinent broken up by transcontinental seas (because the sealevels were so high). The interior of the land masses were most likely relatively flat and desert like and devoid of life.

          NO complex lifeforms have ever been found on land from the Cambrian Period- no plants, trees, animals, birds, etc. Those all developed much, much later.

          The only things living on “land” were large growths of blue-green algae/bacterial strombaliths near the seashores.

          So, if you think that the Cambrian Period is the poster child for an idyllic period of an Explosion of Life on Earth with CO2 levels at 20x that of today….. well …

          … you should start buying future beachfront property in the Midwest, like Kansas or Nebraska ….

      • Shiloh1 says:

        China is low cost producer because no concern about labor, environmental or product liability/efficacy issues.

        As a Great Lakes/Midwesterner I do my part to mitigate global warming by never traveling to the coasts nor internationally. I don’t use straws, either.

      • sunny129 says:

        ‘Red state people are a little suspicious that manufacturing jobs left from regulated USA factories to dirty energy producers in other parts of the world’

        Suspicious of what & whom?
        Who sent those factories & jobs?
        Did China steal American jobs? NO!

        US multi-Nationals ( most pro GOP) sent those to overseas since 2000, all in the name of globalization, to exploit cheap labor in search of more profits and cared little about American wage workers either in RED or Blue states!

        Trump blaming China for that is a mockery of reality and snow job well done on American Public. Both parties, top 1% elites, Wall St and the US Chambers are in complicit in this tragedy affecting wage workers in the bottom 90%!

        Those in RED states are in denial of accepting the reality of digital world, globalization since 2000!

        • Lee says:

          And neither party did squat about it and both actually encouraged it until Mr Trump came along.

          At least he tried, didn’t he.

        • 42 wrote WTO and 43 signed it. I tend to agree with Fiorni, who said famously “maybe those jobs needed to go to China”. US economic policy failed to offer solutions other than an interest only home loan. The American people are now well cared for livestock, whose sole purpose is to consume. Wonder why stocks go up while people are dying in a pandemic? Mass consumption shifts, but it never ends.

    • Crush the Peasants! says:

      Yes, the pandemic seems to have been good for air quality via decreasing automobile, jet and cruise ship travel. Perhaps we are the virus, and the host is mounting an effective immune response.

      • BuySome says:

        Possible, but we’d be assuming the host is engaged only passively. Perhaps we’re lab rats and the technician is altering the maze to see if we truly possess the ability to survive by learning and adaptation. Pray his funding does not run out! Might then just drown the rats in a bucketful of green liquid(ity).

      • sunny129 says:

        Remember the movie MATRIX where humans are perceived as ‘virus’ destroying earth!?

  2. Gandalf says:

    Hey Wolf,

    This is totally off topic, but I’ve been meaning to follow up on a comment you posted a while back about making fresh soy milk at home with an automated soy maker.

    I got really interested in that doing that also, but my significant other started making jokes that I was going to grow man boobs because of all the isoflavones in soy which work as phytoestrogens. This was actually reported to have happened to at least one man who drank vast quantities of fresh soy milk.

    Aaaah, not going to let that happen to me, and I did wonder why that hasn’t been a concern with all those billions of soy eating and drinking Asians? So I did some further research and discovered this fascinating article:

    “Removing isoflavones from modern soyfood: Why and how?”
    Food Chemistry 210 (2016) 286–294

    The key point of the article is that traditional Asian methods of preparation of soy into soy milk, etc., always start with a period of cooking and soaking the dried soy beans and then draining the water and rinsing the soggy soy beans. This effectively removes a large amount of the isoflavones from the soy milk.

    The reason it’s important to point that out is that many of those automated soy milk makers that you mentioned in your post are capable of grinding and churning out soy milk using a much faster and shorter process with just the dried beans and water mix, which of course means that all of the isoflavones in the soy end up in the soy milk.

    So I did get one of those automated soy milk makers, a SoyaJoy G5, which can do such a shortened process. But, I always first boil and drain and soak the soy beans first for several days before grinding them down with the automated soy maker.

    • rankinfile says:

      moobs

    • Greg Gerner says:

      Hi, Gandalf

      Your fear of growing man boobs from eating soy products–as attractive as that picture is to me–is unfounded. The man boobs you see on your manly-men fellow Americans derives from their overeating and drinking dairy products and milk, which contain estrogen.

      In contrast, soy products, being plants, contain phytoestrogens.

      From the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

      Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects. Soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors in the body and cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity.

      In short, no need to fill out that order form from Victoria’s Secret.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Gandalf,

      Ha, I don’t know about man boobs. I’m as lean as they make men. Also, if you use a pound or two of soy beans, you don’t get “vast” quantities of soy milk. The yield is not huge. And my wife doesn’t do this every day. And I don’t drink the soy milk. I eat it as tofu (delicious with just a little salt or ponzu) or mixed with stuff during cooking.

      But you described how my wife is preparing the beans before they go into machine. It always involves hours of soaking, draining, and washing.

      Also note that my wife bakes the left-over fibrous stuff (after you strain the milk) into granola-type crumbles that we mix with our cereal. Very good. Nothing gets thrown away.

  3. sammy iyer says:

    Gandalf
    I dont drink soya milk much. I grill marinated soya Tofu on the grill (soya paneer/soya cottage cheese) and eat weekly once . as Iam a born vegeterian(not even egg) I used to eat Mock beef,mock pork, mock fish dishes in “Bodhi ” restaurents when I lived in Hong Kong . I mix soya flour (good for reducing colesteral) with whole wheat flour /refined all purpose flour & make flat breads (tortila/wrap/Roti/Nan) .In supermarket I buy dry factory made soya granules &soya balls & boil them like pasta &use in curry . it tastes like meat balls (they say). iam eating soya for the last 40 years with no issues ! Soya flavour is used only when cooking chinese like dishes . otherwise so many veg dishes from cuisenes from all over the world for 2 meals a day x 365 days a year.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Sammy, I eat beef tartare less than once a week with a raw egg, raw onion, capers. Sometimes a little mushroom and/or pickled beet. It requires very little processing and no cooking.

      • Gandalf says:

        Eating raw beef is a great way to super sick and/ordie of E. Coli poisoning, eating raw egg is a great way to get salmonella poisoning.

        Many years ago, I helped diagnosed a young girl with salmonella spinal osteomyelitis with a CT guided biopsy. Her only connection was that her family had a lot of free range chickens in their backyard.

        • roddy6667 says:

          The illness was not from eating the chickens, but from stepping in fresh chicken poop with bare feet. We had 60 chickens walking around when I was a kid.

        • Lance Manly says:

          The same for raw fish (sushi). Preparation is the key.

        • Lee says:

          Some people are just unlucky, I guess.

          Never heard of many people getting sick from eating steak tartare or having a raw egg with sukiyaki in Japan.

          And speaking of tofu, we can even gt it here in Australia at the supermarkets now.

          Quality and taste vary quite a bit as should be expected. The big supermarket chain, Woolworths, used to have some really good tasting tofu, but it looks like they changed suppliers a while back and the stuff isn’t that great now..

          Other Asian/Japanese foods stores will also stock the stuff, but you never know what they will taste like.

          Best tofu I ever ate was from a tofu maker located in the Kannon Dōri Shopping Street, a small shotengai (shopping area) near Gumyōji in Yokohama.

          Those are the kind of shops and shopping that make living and eating in Japan a great experience.

        • Gandalf says:

          Ah, ye of limited world views and medical experience –

          When I was a surgery intern in Los Angeles, one of the senior surgery residents in that program, a guy of Korean heritage, got a liver fluke infection from eating bad sushi – and had to go on treatment for a full year with praziquantel.

          I rarely eat sushi as a result. There’s just no way to tell when a place gets a bad load of infected raw fish. That guy sure couldn’t tell, despite being Korean

          An outbreak of E. Coli infections from undercooked Jack in the Box hamburgers in 1993 affected 732 people in four states and killed four children left 178 other victims with permanent injury including kidney and brain damage.

          If you’ve ever seen any films or movies about how slaughterhouses work, where they kill, skin, and gut the animals, you can see how easily any sort of minor break in sanitation, a slip of the knife, slack standards to avoid cross contamination, etc, could easily result in microscopic fecal contamination of the “meat” left on the carcasses.

          Hamburger (tartare) or any sort of ground meat is particularly bad when eaten raw – any sort of microscopic contamination on the surface of the original carcass or slab of meat gets ground up and mixed into the rest of the flesh where the bacteria can quickly proliferate throughout the mix.

          That’s why hamburger or any sort of ground meat should always be fully cooked. Hamburger places that allow people to order their burgers rare or medium are just begging for another 1993 Jack in the Box national tragedy.

          Steak that is seared on the outside but left rare in the middle is far less likely to result in bacterial food poisoning.

          As for salmonella poisoning from free range chickens – well yes, the transmission route is through their poop, but, being free range birds, they will step all over that poop, get it on their feet and feathers, eggs, etc., and it’s almost certainly the process of handling one of these contaminated birds or eggs and NOT washing your hands thoroughly before using them to eat something that results in the fecal – hand – mouth route of transmission of infectious agents.

          That happens with neurocystercercosis of the brain also. Whenever I see multiple small calcifications in the brain on a CT scan, the next thing I look for is a Hispanic surname – usually means neurocystercercosis. That’s what we were taught in residency. And then, it turned out that despite years of also being taught that this disease was caused by eating infected undercooked pork, it turns out that the brain infections are caused by the part of the parasite life cycle that involve passage of the parasite through the gut of an intermediate animal (i.e., a dog or cat pet will do), and then having the human do the usual feces – hand – mouth transmission routhe.

          Enjoy your meal …

    • Gandalf says:

      Most of the mock meat stuff has wheat gluten as the main ingredient, not soy. Adding soy tends to make the mock meats denser and chewier.

      I like that stuff too. Better than the Impossible Burger and way better than Beyond Meat

      • Zantetsu says:

        My ex-wife’s uncle got married in Taiwan to a woman who had some connection to Chinese monks who were vegetarians. The entire reception meal was vegetarian with a dizzying array of ‘fake’ meat based dishes. It was all incredibly good, however, I suspect (but do not know) that it is also very specialized food and expensive to create, thus not suitable for every day eating.

        I have also had an impossible burger from Burger King that I tried on a lark and it too was excellent.

        • Gandalf says:

          Seitan is the Japanese name for wheat gluten based “mock meats”.

          It’s not that hard to make, since packaged powdered Vital Wheat Gluten is readily available, and cheap, online, from places like Bob’s Red Mill. Youtube has a bunch of videos showing how different people make seitan.

          You could make it from scratch (also posted as videos by some real diehard foodies to Youtube), simply by kneading and washing high protein wheat dough until most of the starch is gone.

          The difference in texture between seitan and soy based mock meats is mostly texture – as I mentioned, soy based meat substitutes are generally denser and harder to chew, seitan usually softer and more elastic. Many fake meats use a combination of both gluten and soy.

          It’s not just Buddhists, but also Seventh Day Adventists who are vegetarian by religion. Recently discovered a complete line of canned meat substitutes going under the “Loma Linda” brand name. Loma Linda, of course is a largely Seventh Day Adventist community (the Loma Linda University and Medical School are run by Seventh Day Adventists).

          Because of the “Gluten Free” craze and this vastly overblown national fear of gluten intolerance (true celiac disease is actually fairly rare, inflammatory bowel disease is also not that common), a lot of products that are sold as meat substitutes in the U.S., I have noticed, have started to list “wheat” as an ingredient rather than “gluten”. This included a vegetarian fried chicken product that appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” – Every Shark loved the dish, but the highest bidder, Mark Cuban, insisted that the business owners divulge their secret recipe to him as part of the deal, which they refused. They would only say that it was “wheat-based”.

      • andy says:

        Me too. I like frying these chewy meatless meat-balls with some I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter, and serve with tomato-free ketchup. Also sprinkle some aspartame or sweet-n-low, and a tea spoon of bottled lemon juice to diffuse plasticky aftertaste. And no need to refrigerate because microbes won’t eat it.

  4. Old School says:

    The USA may be a little unique as we are a mobile society. My friend Jean is 74. She is retired to NC from up state NY. Her daughter lives in St. Louis, her son in Tampa and her old friends in up state NY.

    She loves her family and friends and so it’s two trips to each child per year and about one back to NY. Now that she is older it’s all flying. Is it environmentally friendly? No. We all are primarily economic actors in the modern world so we live where we can try to get the lifestyle we want. Maybe covid will change it a bit.

    I do see younger people being more aware of the environment, but in practice they use air travel much more than my generation I think and probably generate as much green house gas as we did in a less globalized world.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      If God had meant man to fly He would have given him wings like He did for birds and pterosaurs. Aircraft are merely an indication of man’s unappreciation of God’s gift of gravity.

  5. 2banana says:

    Kind of an interesting and weird grouping…

    The first thing a freshly minted private with his first steady paycheck in his life is by a truck or a mustang/charger.

    “who were not in penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged, etc. and who were not on active duty in the Armed Forces”

    • BuySome says:

      Been in the military? It might be screwed up today like all the rest of the society (I don’t know), but I don’t recall a single one of the people around me ever having a new vehicle. One PFC going to SP-4 had enough saved to buy an old bug running on three good cylinders. Passengers got to help with the push start procedure. Sure you’re not thinking 1st Lt.’s based in country?

      • 2banana says:

        You ever been in the military or on a military base?

        The car dealerships on the road to these bases have huge signs.

        Your LES (paycheck) is all the credit you need to drive a new truck!

        Save to buy something?

        The 80s called. They want their bank passport savings account back.

        • BuySome says:

          Yes, and as I said I have no idea how messed up they have allowed it to become over time. They weren’t thrilled by having soldiers floating debts in the past. If it has turned into the sideshow you’re describing, time to go back to conscription (with no excuses any more for dodging service). As to those dealerships, there are ways to deal with leeches. It helps if the guy running the show isn’t one of them.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          banana and bysm,
          When I finally got back to Long Beach, I had saved quite a bit, in spite of having spent all I had in Hong Kong duty free; first thing I did was buy a ’56 TR-3 for $600 cash, but had to park outside the gate because of no insurance and it would not pass any safety test.
          Never had any problem with vandalism, in spite of the plastique type side windows that mostly stayed in the trunk,,, and boy was that car fun to drive and a total chick magnet!!!
          Not one of the dealers I visited were the least bit interested in extending credit based on my pay of $330 per month,,, quite a different pay level today IIRC, eh?

    • Lee says:

      As per the other comments sounds to me more like a brand new 2nd LT………………

  6. VintageVNvet says:

    Just filled up last week for the 3rd time this year: total 40 gallons, waayy down from all previous years since 1960 due to no trip(s) across USA to see family and friends…

    Wolf, you do not mention if the miles driven includes all the commercial vehicles, both local and interstate, which would have a huge impact one way or the other??

    Also interested in where the data in this article comes from?

    Thank you,

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The source of the data is cited and linked in the first paragraph. Click on “Federal Highway Administration.”

      • VintageVNvet says:

        OK Wolf,,, after reviewing for a while at the link you provided and reminded, it appears this data is just as manipulated as the other fed guv data.
        Reading through the FAQ, there are some descriptions of some of the current manipulations, but, of course, not all.
        Thanks again for your reporting AND moderating; at this point, WOLFSTREET is the only website worth reading thoroughly, each article from the top, and the commentariat as much as possible…

  7. Dave Mac says:

    Whatever happened to the excellent scientific work of Stan Meyers?

    He found a way to use water as car fuel, but died before it could be developed on a large scale.

    Our “carbon footprint” would be much less if his work had been continued.

    • 2banana says:

      I vaguely remember that story from my youth.

      Yes. True. He added water to the fuel tank. Added in his special ingredients. Allowed full inspection of the vehicle by investors and then drove it around in a short demonstration.

      What was not reported.

      The fuel concoction destroyed the engine after a short time. Which the investors didn’t get to see.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        The other great mystery for us older ICE car lovers is:
        ”What ever happened to the carburetor that was guaranteed to get 200 MPG from regular.”
        That was mid to late 1950s IIRC; still have not seen that carb for some reason???
        Just gotta have fun with all such extrapolations of current understanding of physics, chemistry, etc…
        At least until our physics, especially astrophysics and quantum mechanics physics are more mature and coordinated to the point of development of the ”Gravity Mirror” TM
        At that point, all of these dirty types of vehicles, including ICE, BEV, Hyprid, etc., go into the big recycle bin to make the gravmir vehicles that will actually produce a net gain when they land back into their nest from their momentum, etc., etc….

        • Tony22 says:

          I dunno, I fooled around with a 67 Chevelle with a six cylinder in auto shop at Mission High and got it to run reasonably well off gasoline vapors. About 180 MPG on I-5 at 55 MPH.

          Engine ran normally when cold until heated water from radiator vaporized the gasoline in a coil of copper refrigeration tubing connected between the fuel pump and the crankcase blowby on the carb. The heat closed a check valve and prevented ligquid fuel from entering the bowl on the card. I ran the tubbing inside an extra piece of radiator hose that “Y’ed” off water pump and merged back into the heater core. Got an A from my shop teacher, but was more interested in girls so gave it up until Chevron gave me a thousand dollars and told me to never mention it until the year 2020.
          So, here we are. Now every one has fuel injection and it wouldn’t pass smog, so there you are. ;-)

    • Gandalf says:

      The wikipedia entry for Stan Meyers links to some real US patents which appear to show that he somehow managed to fool the US Patent Office into giving him several patents for the simple idea of electrolysis.

      His “water fuel” engine basically generated hydrogen and oxygen gas from electrolysis which was then burned to generate energy for the engine. His claim, not made in his patents (the US Patent Office forbids the patenting of perpetual motion machines) was that the first step would take less energy than generated by the second step.

      Later, he was sued by investors, and found by a court to have commited fraud.

      • Paulo says:

        Yup,

        It’s up there with the ‘simple pill’ advertised for decades in Popular Mechanics that would turn water into fuel, or magically increase your gas mileage by ________%.

        Then right after comes, “The big oil companies paid to discredit the inventions”. I’m pretty sure the old adage, “Follow the money” explains many of these discoveries, including Mr Musk.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Elon Musk make a company that creates actual vehicles that do what they are advertised to do and that has millions of satisfied customers.

          How can you rationalize equating him to someone who only ever produced a fake product that never sold and that was an obvious scam?

          You post some good stuff sometimes but this is terrible. I think we as a society need to start AGGRESSIVELY fighting back against the viral spread of falsehoods, all of this waiting in the wings assuming that it’s just going to go away on its own is clearly not working.

        • andy says:

          Zanetsu,

          re: ‘I think we as a society need to start AGGRESSIVELY fighting back against the viral spread of falsehoods..’

          How many millions of Teslas were produced? Was it 2 millions? Or fewer millions?

        • MCH says:

          It almost seem like it would be a signal to short oil stocks, but seriously, how much lower can they go at this point.

          I am curious to see what those companies do in the long run. Because there is still a place in the world for petrochemicals. But that proportion will decrease as we go on in time.

          The only question is how many of oil companies leadership are visionary enough to save their company by re-purposing, because transportation shift is happening, and it’ll accelerate as time goes on. Even if you took 1/10th of the ICE cars off the world, the impact on an oil company would be quite significant.

        • MCH says:

          oops, posted the last one to the wrong place.

          Paulo,

          My thought is that EV is gaining mainstream acceptance. Do you recall EV1? It was there in the 90s, ahead of its time. It died because the technology wasn’t there, and neither was the infrastructure. Sure, the oil company “killed it,” but it honestly deserved to be killed at that point.

          Now, however, Musk has made the EV market into something other than a joke. He is doing the same thing to the rocket market in that he made rockets competitive and not a monopoly of ULA. Yes, I agree with the adage, follow the money. But Musk has delivered. EV1 didn’t do 10,000 cars, I think the total might have been may be a few thousand. Musk has delivered a million plus that amount. It takes time to get there, and the adaptation curve is long. And Elon was smart by starting at the high end, and not try to go mass market in the beginning.

          Even if Tesla as a company dies in a couple of years, it won’t matter, people will “credit” him as being the father of the EV revolution because he made it mainstream.

          By the way, Zantetsu, you really should check your facts, the one millionth Tesla was supposedly built this year. I know you didn’t specifically cite a number and used a generic “millions.” But as people are fond of the mantra, “facts matter.” It does here too. It would’ve been more accurate to say that there are millions of EVs out on the market because Musk made it mainstream.

          I would guess the largest producer of EV is probably a Chinese company today, but I’m too lazy to look up the facts.

        • Anthony A. says:

          MCH: GM (Roger Smith at the time) killed the EV1, not oil companies. About 1,100 were made and GM leased them as commuter cars in Ca and AZ, only to collect them and scrap them. About 40 were kept in museums or by select collectors. They had a range of about 100 miles.

        • MCH says:

          @anthony

          And hence the quotes, because oil companies wouldn’t have looked at that one off as a threat. Although I thought the range on EV1 was less.

          But today EV is a threat to oil company revenue stream. It is also an unalterable fact that EV is in the process of a long ramp that will eventually transform the entire automotive sector and possibly beyond. ICE is going to become a specialty sector at some point in the near future, the only uncertainty there is exact timing, there will be less a need to learn the Carnot cycle in twenty years… well that might be going too far. So, the question is will these companies which still has a good deal of assets be able to pivot and change with the times.

          Most probably can’t, but one or two might. The small guys are probably all doomed.

        • Zantetsu says:

          MCH, are vehicle’s Tesla’s only product?

          I don’t know how many products of all types Tesla has sold, maybe ‘millions’ was a slight exaggeration. I am fine being corrected with actual numbers.

          Since no one seems to be able to post actual numbers though, it seems we can all agree on “many customers” and be done with it.

        • Lee says:

          “MCH, are vehicle’s Tesla’s only product?”

          Well I kinds heard that at one time they sold lots of solar panels and such, but it looks like not much naymore.

          And I heard that they have some kind of solar roof system, but that they are as rare as a living dinosaur.

          They also spew a lot of bs with regard to something called AI and driverless vehicles, but again, never heard or actually seen them on the road……………….

        • MCH says:

          @ Zantetsu

          When you start with: “Elon Musk make a company that creates actual vehicles that do what they are advertised to do and that has millions of satisfied customers.” That kinda has a certain implication, I mean… vehicles are pretty distinct as a “product” right?

          But then switch over to: “MCH, are vehicle’s Tesla’s only product?

          I don’t know how many products of all types Tesla has sold, maybe ‘millions’ was a slight exaggeration. I am fine being corrected with actual numbers.

          Since no one seems to be able to post actual numbers though, it seems we can all agree on “many customers” and be done with it.”

          You know what that’s called? A bait and switch. You were clearly talking about cars and but having no clue what they did just glossed it over, and then you switched over to “products” when someone happen to mention the facts, then try to cover it all up with a “we can all agree.”

          But that’s ok, no problem. It’s plain enough to see.

          Just saying, ya know… some people keep yammering about things like facts matter. Then suddenly, when it’s their turn, the tune changes…

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Has anyone seen any numbers on what percentage of Mr. Musk’s aggregate net profit comes from the government? I.E.: vehicle/solar panel carbon credits, Space X sales, etc. He appears to have managed income from the government quite well. You play the cards you’re dealt.

    • nick kelly says:

      One of the people taken in by a watered- fuel scheme was Henry Ford. Don’t know if it was this one because there have been many variations, including the myth of the 200 mpg carb, supposedly suppressed by auto and oil cos. This gem was still circulating in the usual spheres even after the Big Three became desperate to improve MPG.

  8. Jed says:

    I read a statistic that only 25% of people under 25 & over16 have a drivers license..it’s been an on going trend made possible by Uber and moving to urban centers. Car ownership is expensive… insurance, gas, parking, etc. It’s something transportation planners like to avoid as ongoing interstate highway construction projects that were planned years ago, never come to an end. I don’t see that trend changing because of the pandemic. Boomers may run to the suburbs but millennials have left them to recapture time and money lost commuting to work. Work from home is just as easy from an urban setting as it is from far flung suburbs.

    • Seneca’s Cliff says:

      My youngest son lives in a new high rise apartment in downtown Portland and has never had a drivers license. He works at an I.P. Law firm a few blocks away. He mostly goes in to the office for a change of scenery and the free coffee and donuts. With all the money he saves on owning and feeding a car he is able to bank nearly half his paycheck each month.

    • Tony22 says:

      This is why San Francisco is doomed my friend.

      No one wants to take BART under the bay, or ride trains or buses into the city b/c Covid. Too little parking to allow everyone, even the small numbers still moving their buttocks into seats in office towers, to park. City harvests 25% of parking lot fees as tax, has parking meters that charge more per hour at certain times than the average worker takes home aftertax and the international air travel and local tourism industry is dead as those who do drive in don’t stay the night in their 15% city taxed hotels.

      Watching the agonizing thrashing of the tax and spend homeless enablers in city hall is like watching your worst enemy dying a slow horrible death. Slow soft clapping and a chuckle.

  9. Old School says:

    Of topic a little bit, but I just reviewed my short term bond fund account and it is now bottoming out on interest payouts. I picked up a decent 5% or so cap gain as interest rates dropped.

    It’s interesting that interest payout now is just over $100 per month where less than two years ago it was just over $1000 per month. I fortunately don’t need it, but if I did a drop of 90% income would be tough to take.

    I put money there in 2016 thinking we had to be within 3 years or so of a bubble bursting. Still waiting. March wasn’t it I don’t think. Not sure Fed is ready to give economy back and I might be getting $100 income payments a long time before the bubble gets pricked.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      No bubble bursting. They’ll just close down the stock market until “cooler heads prevail” if it goes down too much.

      We might see the market down 20 to 30% as part of a correction, but it will just bounce back up.

      • sunny129 says:

        ‘market down 20 to 30% as part of a correction, but it will just bounce back up’

        Wow!
        Guess you haven’t gone thru a real secular BEAR mkt, yet!?

        During the last BEAR in GFC, S&P lost 60% and took nearly 18months to comeback, only after Fed poured 4 Trillions+

        Been in the mkt since ’82, gone thru more than one bear! May newbies ( most under 45y) haven’t gone thru a bear mkt in their life time. The next one is NOT far away!

        Fed is helpless against the on going raves of C 19 ( primary, 2ndary and tertiary effects) Cannot print jobs or give/deposit money directly!

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          The Nasdaq dropped from 5000 plus to 1300 plus in 2 years, but so what, sure it took some time coming back, but at 12K now, even people who bought at the top at the time have made their money back.

          Will there be another 60% drop? Sure, but from much higher levels. Producing record stock market levels is the true occupation of this country, and darn if we are not very good at doing it.

          Covid is old news. The Fed though needs a reason to restart QE, and Covid is a convenient excuse.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      I too had an expectation of $1500-2000/month interest income based on 40 years working experience. Like you I’m appreciative that I don’t need the money. Doesn’t matter as Covid-19 has put vacations on hold. But that’s money I would have been spending into the economy.

  10. Heinz says:

    “We have already seen a significant outflow of high-rise apartment dwellers from city centers to the suburbs or further afield.”

    An urban outflow to suburbs and rural areas (attributed to the pandemic) is a trendy meme that I come across frequently in economic articles.

    With housing inventory noticeably low in many areas of the country, I just wonder where all that available housing for sale materialized in these non-urban areas.

    I’m scratching my head trying to visualize the floodgates suddenly opening up and all that housing immediately becoming available for sale to refugees from urban centers.

    Some hard data on that meme I have not seen yet.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “I just wonder where all that available housing for sale materialized in these non-urban areas.”

      It hasn’t materialized. Hence, the explosion in prices and rents in those areas. You can get all kinds of data on this here:

      https://wolfstreet.com/category/all/housing/

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Very true! I don’t know which mail I get more of, medicare advantage plan brochures or buy offers for one of my suburban homes.

      • sunny129 says:

        Housing bubble is NOW a lot bigger than Stock bubble!
        mishtalk.

        In 4-6 months we will get better picture, not very good even Fed tries this time. How many businesses and jobs will come back and how many of those they will bail out?

  11. Micheal Engel says:

    1) If SPX correction will be deep enough the monthly RSI will dive into bearish territory.
    2) Bear market rallies can fool investors.
    3) The monthly RSI will stay in bearish territory as long as it’s Aug close, the 3M Divergence will be a strong signal.
    6) If not, check the weekly.

    • sunny129 says:

      +1

      ‘Bear market rallies can fool investors’

      Bear ‘traps’ are feature and NOT a bug in all the previous BEAR mkts in the 200+ yrs of mkt history!
      The global DEBT overload and fundamentals were already deteriorated even before Covid pandemic. Even Mr. Powell last Thursday ( for the first time!) admitted that Economy won’t come back to pre covid level!

  12. Stonedwino says:

    I’ve been lurking here for some time, but have yet to post. I thouroughly enjoy the intelligent discourse.

    “Housing for sale HAS materialized”. I can attest to it. I sell wine for an importer/wholesaler in NY. My territory runs through the entire lower Hudson Valley north to Kingston/Woodstock and west into the Catskills all the way to Hancock, NY. When the Pandemic-exodus started in March. the little inventory of homes that was available in the area, did sell through relatively quickly. Most of the Hudson Valley and Catskills is not necessarily that affluent, mind you. Most of the people who live up there never thought they’d get the chance, nor could they afford to get up and leave to go retire elsewhere cheaper than NY state (FL, NC, GA, etc) When the existing inventory of homes was quickly consumed by the exodus of folks from NYC, there are many locals living upstate who said to themselves…”Hmm?! What if I list my little house at some price and see what happens.” Boom. It sold. This scenario is playing itself over an over, with folks who never imagined they’d get even $100K for their ramshackle upstate abode are now getting real mula for the properties themselves, after being pushed by the pandemic exodus form NYC to list their house at dream like valuations for these folks. I drive about 35K miles all over my territory and mostly on local and back roads to go visit my customers. For sale signs are plopping up all over the place up there and it does not seem to be slowing down. I believe Kingston, NY is probably the hottest local real estate market in the country since the pandemic began. It looks and feels like Wlliamsburg, Brooklyn lately, since sooo many younger folks moved up there recently. “It’s materializing all right!!! See, there is an explanation…

    • Tony22 says:

      That’s nice but are they going to vote a new bond issue to build low income housing in Kingston for people who want to also raise their children in the country?

      To do otherwise is too horrible to contemplate and would go against all their chosen philosophies.
      How on earth could New Yorkers look them self in the mirror living in a non-diverse, selfish, inequitable red-lined community?

    • Heinz says:

      Thanks for valuable anecdotal info on a perplexing topic, i.e. housing supply and demand anomalies during a certifiable housing bubble (for many parts of US, anyway).

      In a major metro region in Midwest, ex-urban and rural properties in affordable price ranges ( <250K) are still as scarce as hen's teeth (only a slight exaggeration) and that has been the case for over a year. This is at least according to Zillow and Redfin listings.

      Sellers are even unloading eyesore fixer-uppers and tired old farm houses at premium prices– and wonder of wonders, some are selling.

  13. Stonedwino says:

    PS: One of my good customers not only owns the local wine shop, but he’s also a real estate agent just outside of Kingston, NY…so I do get first hand info confirming my story.

  14. ft says:

    I can’t find a correlation between driving patterns and soy hamburgers. The off-topic comments on this post are a bit much. Most of you know better.

    I bought a neat new roadster in July, but pleasure driving seems to be off the table lately and I haven’t even put a thousand miles on it yet.

    • BuySome says:

      The correlations of the several tributaries may yet reveal themselves if it turns out that what is underlying it all is an undeclared mass panic of people who fear that death is on the corner that prosperity was supposed to be “just around”. People don’t throw huge sums of money at crap that has been way overvalued when they’re thinking straight. But we’ve been on that route for the last 40+ years knowing there has been something inherently illogical under the surface and this might be an End of Maintained Road just ahead. And then again, it could be a Mirage (like the casino).

      • VintageVNvet says:

        I think you’re on to something fundamental there bysm!
        Talking to a 92 year old friend of 50 plus years a week ago re fear of dying, she said something to the tune of, ” people who are afraid of dying haven’t lived much, and they know it.”
        Pretty much sums it up, eh?
        Ya pays your money and ya takes your chances and/or dances,,, and if you only focus on the brass ring, you can go around in circles your whole life and neither enjoy the ride nor dance to any music but the orders from head quarters…

  15. Bobber says:

    I find it surprising that road traffic is down only 8% from last year. Employment is down. Many of those who are employed or going to school are working/studying from home. People have nowhere to go, aside from the grocery store, take-out food restaurants, and perhaps some outdoor activities. Indoor gathering events (parties, sporting events, schools, offices,etc.) are largely closed.

    How does that translate to only a 8% traffic drop? I was expecting 20% or more. Are people just driving around simply to get out of the house?

    Perhaps it’s the Amazon/online delivery trucks and other goods delivery chains that are offsetting the slack in personal traffic. I see a delivery truck on my street every 10 minutes it seems. It wasn’t like that last year. I know they are putting on tons of miles and are doing it very inefficiently.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Bobber,

      Here are some things that popped to mind: People are driving to places instead of flying. I know a couple who drove from the Bay Area to Salt Lake City to visit her aging aunt. Many commenters here have posted similar stories, some of them driving across the country. People aren’t taking mass transit, etc. People are driving because now driving vacations are in. Local/regional tourism is now a big thing. I can see that in San Francisco on weekends. Non-office workers can’t work from home, and they’re driving to work.

      BTW, an 8% decline is still historically huge in the US. The only time in the data when there was a larger year-over-year decline was in July 1979 (-9%), during the Oil Shock, when people skipped summer travel because they had trouble getting gas and were afraid of getting stuck with long lines at gas stations that were showing up in many parts of the country. This was the only month in the data that was worse than the September drop. This is still a huge drop.

      • 728huey says:

        You answered much of that commenters question for me. But I did want to add that it’s not just Amazon delivery vehicles mostly on the road. Thanks to the pandemic people are not only having restaurant food delivered to the home but groceries as well. In fact I’ve seen Doordash drivers who are also Delhi for Walmart and Instacart at the same time.

        • BuySome says:

          Zero sum for mileage. Delivery is just replacing the point-to-point trip they didn’t take. And any route deliveries cut the mileage even further by nature of their efficiency.

      • Lee says:

        “People aren’t taking mass transit”

        Yep, mass transit useage in Melbourne is down something like 90% even though travel restrictions have been lifted.

        I’ll have to watch for new stats to come out, but I expect that number will increase over time as the work from home orders are removed. We still have that restriction here: you must work from home if you can.

        I doubt that it will ever go back to what it was before the virus, though.

        And on restrictions, we still have the requirement to wear a mask outside the house, but that may change this coming Sunday.

        Why, you ask?

        Well our Premier, our liitle tyrant, went out for a walk and it was hot at the time which made it difficult to breath while wearing a mask…………..so now he thinks people might be able to not have to wear a mask while out walking when there is nobody around. Took the idiot long enough to figure that out.

        He should try wearing one and walking at the same time recovering from pneumonia and see what it feels like.

        • Lee says:

          Big news out in Victoria – Melbourne.

          Our State Labor government has now decided to spend A$2.2 BILLION next year on starting a ring loop subway system to connect up the major train lines in Melbourne.

          The project is expected to take 30 years to finish at an estimated cost of $30 to $50 BILLION.

          Well……………………………

          I wonder where they are going to find $2.2 billion for it next year as this will be the 4th major project that will be ongoing.

          Two are stalled and already have huge cost overruns and the third, while about on time, has blown in terms of costs as usual.

          No doubt the costs will explode upwards for this one as well, be delayed, and also end up being above ground as they find the cost to put the lines underground too expensive.

          All three are par for the course when it comes to major projects here – gotta pay off the unions with jobs and huge wages for their members after all they are a LABOR government.

          The state government here is already borrowing billions to fund their projects with no end in sight to the borrowing. Even one of the big rating instiutions have sounded the alarm on the borrowing which must mean that things are getting bad in that respect.

          People around the new proposed stations are now getting notices already that their houses may be subject to being bought by the government at some point in the future too which will make their life hell until things clear up.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The $2.2 billion will be needed just to do a study and pay consultants and set up a promo website with cool images of the subway, and the like. This stuff costs money!!! And then there are the $10 billion needed to buy the properties and start construction. And then, once construction has started, it goes from there.

      • Euler says:

        RV sales are booming. More vacations are driving and camping in luxurious digs. YouTube is full of people posting vacationing in their RV. Even better: Post a video on YT, get some ad money, then write-off all your vacation expense as business expense. Sweet!

      • BuySome says:

        Okay, visiting Aunt Tillie works for summer. But here’s this…I drove annually <1/2 the average (~5K area). I must have a counterpart who motors 3x my total to make that average up. But now I'll be less than 2K. So unless my shadow goes absolutely car crazy, the effect this winter might be shocking. And what happens if this scenario plays out across that whole unemployed population when their rich Uncle up and disappears for a while? Will 8% drop seem like the good times?

    • RightNYer says:

      My theory is that a lot of people are just driving to get out of the house, especially given how cheap gas is right now. My reasoning for this is seeing what the traffic was like here in South Florida at the end of April, when everything was still closed, including parks. I saw many more cars on the road than the beginning of the month, and couldn’t imagine where anyone was going. Then it hit me, they were just driving around to get some fresh air.

  16. Beardawg says:

    Youngens are waiting for personal hover craft vehicles. I ain’t young, but I can’t wait !!

  17. makruger says:

    The large company I work for recently announced that most folks working from home would continue to due so permanently. Covid-19 aside, the company plans for a 15-20% reduction in commercial office space. So, fewer miles driven by employees, and reduced leasing costs for businesses. I personally would not want to be holding any REIT’s in the near term as their slide will likely soon look like the non-renewable energy sector. Interestingly, none of this seems to be bothering domestic automakers, who’s stocks have mostly recovered from their March lows. These too may end up joining the ranks of the REIT’s and Oil stocks.

  18. RightNYer says:

    Could the lower August to September drop just be a result of less vacation driving over the summer, such that a higher percentage of the driving that was remaining was “normal” driving?

  19. Martha Careful says:

    Yes indeed, larger population not driving, or presumably not buying super expensive autos or petrol.

  20. nick kelly says:

    Since everyone is talking about anything (fake meat etc.) here is an interesting and ominous bit of financial news over on ZH: 11, 15

    ‘Sudden Default By AAA-Rated Chinese State-Owned Coal Miner Sends Shockwaves Across Markets’

    It was a one billion yuan (154 mil US) short term bond that was being sold as a conservative investment right up to the day of default.

    Apparently the Chinese Robin Hoods are piling into it on a reduced price and other state bonds in recent default on the theory that the gov can’t possibly let them fail.

    This sounds like something closer to home.

    • Bobber says:

      How do I buy some? If there’s one thing you can count on the past 30 years, it’s government bail-outs. You can count on them in China, Europe, and most of all in the US.

      • nick kelly says:

        Ya, but you kind of think the gov would bail it out before the actual default. Wouldn’t an AAA rated SOE outfit be able to pick up the phone and give the gov a heads up? Since it IS the gov. I don’t think China Inc. or Xi want’s this kind of publicity.

        I can’t think of an exact US parallel…did Freddie or Fannie default on bonds.?

      • sammy iyer says:

        1. Send a mail to leading HK brokers like SunHungKai securities or Hangseng Bank securuties. They might tell you the way forward (if they can make a buck out of you). you can not deal with china direct as a foreigner. have to go tho Hong kong middle men (HK leading brokers)
        2. During Jan 1998 ASIAN currency collapse-crisis, I travelled to SEOUL ,Korea & opened account with Samsung Securuties. As a foreigner I have to obtain a ‘Foreign Indivual Investor permit” from Korean Central Bank. Samsung sponsored me & got it for me. Broker begged me to invest in Korean Bluechips . But I was chicken .I know in my gut Korean won will bounce from 1400 level at that crisis time (before crisis 1$ =800 won ) . I invested US$250k in korean GOVT BONDS thro samsung (@1$=1350 won or so ) crisis Interest rate for ther bond was 10-11% ! I returned from seoul after a M-F stay back to HK. In 3-4 months time I sold my $250k worth korean won at 1 $=1100 won or so. Made some $50k or so for the brave/foolish effort. But the korean bluechips doubled in 6 months . (Regretting of course after the fact ) . fyi so many foreigners like me were in seoul at that time buying korean assets ar fire sale prices.
        3 ) by the way many foreign institutions dont open a/c for US passport holders . Even me (not a us citizen but was us resident for some time ) no longer bank with us HQ’d banks like Shiti, BOA , JPM etc “even outside” usa . I still trade us securities via TD ameritrade as a non resident alien since 1997.

  21. What do these new driving patterns portend for the EV industry. Wouldn’t it be more pragmatic in a declining industry to keep old technology?

  22. Light Bender says:

    some additional societal factors to consider, society had made it unpleasant, risky and expensive to learn to drive : 1) Cops and law enforcement technology are so pervasive that 16 year olds are likely to get $500 tickets(or get brutalized or shot) while, or shortly after, learning to drive. Better to stay home and play video games. 2) Insurance is so expensive, and becomes outrageously expensive if a young driver has a ticket. 3) There are cameras spying on drivers everywhere so the sense of freedom and independence, formerly associated with driving, has disappeared.
    With these two facts well known among teenagers, the likelihood of a youth driving culture diminishes every day. I know that none of my 3 young adult children were overly eager to get a license at 16 and only of of them owns a car today.

    • Anthony A. says:

      Well, insurance for a teenager has ALWAYS been expensive. Nothing new here.

      Also, many teens with a year or so driving under their belts can usually drive better than their parents.

  23. Lee says:

    The price of used cars in Oz:

    Cashed-up consumers scared of using public transport due to the coronavirus have driven used car prices up almost 50 per cent since the pandemic started, but they now face a fall in the value of their worn set of wheels.

    In the immediate advent of the coronavirus, when many Australians were forced to work from home, wholesale used-car prices nose-dived to their lowest point in at least half a decade.

    But since April, they have grown by 49 per cent. They are now a third higher than in October last year.”

    Welcome to life in Oz………………..

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