It's been easy to crank out double-digit improvements the past six months. The first half of 2009 stunk: six straight months of seasonally adjusted annualized sales rates under 10 million units, the lowest in decades. Almost anything looks better than that.
The second half of 2009 was considerably less pungent.
July-through-December SAAR was in the low 11-million range -- roughly the same as the SAAR for the entire first half of 2010.
So those year-over-year comparisons that come every month -- the headline number that is shorthand for auto industry types, and virtually the only thing the rest of the world measures -- could turn flat or even negative starting this month.
Cash-for-clunkers was an artificial spike in July and August sales last year. We'll have an excuse through next month.
After that, low-11 million SAAR results aren't going to help tell a tale of recovery.