As a young newspaper reporter, I would sometimes find myself assigned to write a story about rising or falling gasoline prices.
Such a story could be entertaining if someone said something clever. But usually it would boil down to an expert saying it was all about supply and demand. Frustratingly predictable, but such is the first rough draft of history.
In the end, economic stories are always about supply and demand — what causes one to change or what happens because one of them changed.
But the petroleum industry, as fascinating as it can be, is a lot more straightforward — almost linear — compared with automobiles. A global web of business relations is manifested in thousands of pieces of metal and plastic and silicon that can be fitted together to make devices that embody the ideals of personal freedom as well as the power to travel at superhuman speeds while carrying your loved ones and hundreds of pounds of stuff.
Make no mistake about it — this is a deep contraction, on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.
I am relieved that sales didn't fall quite as dramatically as they did in China or Italy — or in line with the 96 percent drop in light-vehicle production in North America last month.
I am encouraged that more dealers are opening up safely and especially that more are mastering the art and science of online sales and remote delivery.
I'm glad to see the market on an upward trajectory. But it is going to be a long, hard road until there's a widely used, safe and effective vaccine or natural immunity.