by Andrew Stuttaford

Der Spiegel takes a look at auto sales in Germany in September. Once you make the necessary calendar adjustments the fall (YoY) is rather less alarming (2 percent) than the headline number of 11 percent would suggest, but even that fairly modest decline may suggest that the euro zone’s troubles are spreading north to the country that is being dragooned into underwriting the whole wretched project. Food for thought, that.

But then read on:

 “I’ve never seen it this bad,” Sergio Marchionne, head of Italian carmaker Fiat, told the New York Times in a summer interview. Referring to the discounts that many manufacturers have been offering, he added: “It’s a bloodbath of pricing and it’s a bloodbath on the margins.”

The numbers back up that assessment. On Monday, France indicated that car registrations there dropped by 18 percent in September against the same month a year ago. In Italy, the drop was 25.7 percent, whereas Spain saw registrations plummet by a whopping 37 percent. Overall, the European Union has seen a 7.1 percent drop in new registrations over the first eight months of the year, with final numbers for September still pending…

The crisis could engender more changes in Europe as well. Italian media is reporting on Tuesday that some 1.75 million bicycles were sold in the country in 2011. It was the first time ever that cycle sales exceeded that of automobiles.

The first time ever? I doubt it, but even so…

The Corner

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