Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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California’s Economy: Last . . . Not Lease

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Back in the early 1990s, Gov. Pete Wilson had the perfect metaphor for the sagging California economy: folks were in such a hurry to get out of the Golden State that U-Haul couldn’t keep up with the demand for trailers.

Here’s a 21st century metaphor for the California economy: auto leases.

According to, a website that helps motorists find people to take over their car leases, the no. 1 reason for trading leases in Los Angeles and San Diego in the fourth quarter of 2009 was Californians leaving the state.

That wasn’t the case a year ago, when the top reason was foreclosures and underwater mortgages.

In a good economy, you might expect a lease to be traded as part of trading up to a better car. Or maybe the new toy in the driveway and the accompanying mid-life crisis was the final straw in a shaky marriage.

But not so in present-day California. In a bad economy, divorce is at the opposite end of the pecking order.

The transfer of car leases breaks down as follows:

Relocation 8.8%

Job loss 7.3%

Mortgage issues 7.1%

Buyer’s remorse 6.8%

Divorce 6.6%

Btw, California’s population grew by 353,000 to 38.4 million from July 2008 to July 2009. The only years with lower growth rates since 1900 were 1994-96, according to the state’s Department of Finance.

Over the past five years, California has experienced a net-exodus of 500,000 residents, with the Golden State’s population buoyed by an influx of overseas immigration.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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