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How broadly would you define "auto industry"? Only the major manufacturers like Ford, GM, Toyota? What about their financing units? (Though GM and GMAC are tied together, they represent diffent problems.) Would you include auto dealers, some of whom I know are publicly traded, but I don't know the extent of their bond issuance. What about the two major tire companies: Goodyear and Cooper (both of whose bonds I own)? What about the auto parts stores? A month or so ago, AutoZone's bonds were offering a fat yield, and Pep Boys comes in and out of favor with Wall Street (and I made money on their bonds, too.)

It seems to me there's a couple things crucial to understanding the auto industry: interest rates and commodity prices, especially oil and steel. In that sense, the auto industry is a secondary player to larger forces. If housing does the downturn everyone seems to be expecting, a lot of cars are going to get repo'd. Finding a publicly traded repo company might be a good play on the auto industry.

Also, if the auto industry is thought of as transportation, not just a consumer vanity purchase, then rails, air freight, and shipping should also be looked at, and the yields on some of the shipping stocks are atronomically high the last time I looked, which presents an interesting problem of whether to go with the bonds or the stock.

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