Stories by Joann Muller

Smaller tax refunds in 2019 could slash U.S. auto sales

Cars at a Chevy dealership in Illinois. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Last year's tax reform spurred stronger-than-expected car sales by giving consumers more disposable income, but the payback will come this spring when many Americans could discover they're not getting the tax refund they had expected.

Why it matters: Car sales are a key driver of the U.S. economy, and the industry sees a big uptick every spring as consumers turn their tax refund into a deposit on a new or used car. Without that seasonal bounce, 2019 auto sales may be lower, making a recession more likely.

Between the lines on GM's bullish outlook

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

GM's optimistic forecast for 2019 surprised a lot of investors Friday, triggering an 8% surge in GM stock, but CEO Mary Barra has been laying the groundwork for more than 3 years.

The big picture: Barra is building a case for how GM will remain healthy amid factors she can't control — trade friction, economic slowdown, and rising commodity prices — not to mention the historic transformation of the automobile.

In Detroit, automakers curb their enthusiasm

Illustration of a car with sad emojis instead of wheels
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The mood in Detroit is gloomy on the eve of next week's North American International Auto Show, and — for once — it has (almost) nothing to do with Michigan weather.

The big picture: Automakers are bracing for a cyclical downturn, exacerbated by the Trump administration's trade policies, rising interest rates and consumer rejection of 4-door sedans. While tightening their belts, they're still trying to fund massive investments in electric and self-driving cars they say are needed to secure their long-term survival.

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