DEFINITION of 'General Motors (GM) Indicator'

An indicator based on the theory that the performance of U.S. automaker General Motors (GM) is a pre-cursor to the performance of the U.S. economy and stock market. The GM Indicator relies on the assumption that when people are confident and making money one of the first things they would do is buy a new car.

BREAKING DOWN 'General Motors (GM) Indicator'

There is still some talk behind this strategy as there is a correlation between auto sales and the overall economic standing of individuals. But this theory had more weight in the 1970s-80s when GM was by far the largest carmaker in North America. Since then GM's importance to the U.S. economy has declined due to greater competition.

During the financial crisis of 2007/2008, GM saw sales decline due to a decrease in demand for their "less" fuel efficient vehicles, and a decrease in available funds for financing due to credit restrictions. Their stock price dropped over 70% compared with a general market decline of around 30%. Although a correlation exists, the overall market and economy relies less on the performance of one automaker than it did in the 1970s.

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