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JIM HENRY

Been down so long it looks like up

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
Is the credit crisis still a problem, or is money now available for auto loans?

OK, silly questions on the heels of March sales, which were up almost 25 percent, right? But industry executives, dealers and analysts aren't quite sure about the answer.

It seems that the right answer might be something wholly convoluted and oxymoronic, like: "Money is available, but credit is tight."

My take is that for the next year or so we'll need to keep reminding ourselves that everything is relative. Money is more available than it was during the depths of the Automotive Great Depression, but many car buyers are still required to pony up big down payments. Customers with bad credit, meanwhile, are out in the cold.

Regardless, sales are up, so let's celebrate. Just remember that we're still in a big hole.

How's that for an oxymoron?

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