Cash for clunkers may have been a complete disaster economically speaking (we literally would have been better off if the government had simply burned $1 billion in cash), but Coyote Blog finds a silver lining:
I have found a reason to love the Cash for Clunkers program: it is a fabulous demonstration project for just how utterly pointless government stimulus programs can be. Stimulus programs tend to be hard to evaluate in our complex economy — sort of like trying to calculate the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings on world climate. But since cash for clunkers only lasted a few weeks and hit only one industry, we can learn a lot about the effectiveness of government stimulus.
He’s right, you don’t often see a analysis of a stimulus program this simple:
The program had absolutely no impact whatsoever on the trend in auto sales, it merely encouraged people to move their auto purchases up by a month. (Of course, to do that the government had to waste a lot of money and take a lot of perfectly good automobiles out the used-car market.)