lambasted Baroness Vadera, under-secretary of state for business,
for saying in an interview that the “green shoots of recovery” can
be seen in some sectors of the UK economy. “Er, what green shoots?”
they asked, as unemployment rises to 1.92m, with many more job
losses forecast in the coming months.
which greeted US presidential candidate John McCain when he
insisted – on September 15, a.k.a. ‘Black Monday’, the day when
Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy – that “the fundamentals of
the [US] economy are strong”.
It’s clear the motor industry, perhaps more than most other
sectors, is in a pretty pickle – and the green shoots are hard to
spot. Such gloom is not helped by headlines screaming about
negative equity for customers on PCP agreements, as we saw earlier
this month (see Media’s PCP ‘negative equity’ claims debunked). As
motor finance broker Graham Hill says, the media’s articles are
“strongly recommending that people don’t take PCP which allows them
to pass over the huge losses to the funders” which he describes as
“bloody criminal” under the circumstances.
A slight recovery in used car prices may yet come about (see
Mixed picture for December used car prices), with reports of
frantic activity at January auctions showing strong demand from
both retail and trade buyers, while EurotaxGlass’s has found that
levels of trade buying are “unprecedented” for this time of year,
as dealers look to used car sales to make up the expected shortfall
in profits from new car sales. Whether this is just a ‘dead cat
bounce’ remains to be seen, however.
For fleets, there are few safe havens. But one sector with
(relatively) stable budgets which can be relied on for volume, even
during a downturn, is the public sector. For a long time seen as,
well, steady but unexciting, it seems there has been a sea-change
in attitudes of public sector organisations towards their vehicle
policies, with the environment and duty of care issues rising to
the fore. Fleet lessors who invest time and effort in getting to
know the arena can reap the rewards, finds John Maslen in our cover
story (see In the public interest).
With very best wishes for the month ahead.