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Harry's Law of auto loans

[Dec 13, 2011.]


Do you watch Harry's Law? For those who don't, it's a current NBC drama series, starring Kathy Bates as the eponymous female defence attorney. Last week's episode ("American Girl") saw Harry setting off for a spot of quail shooting, somewhere near Cincinnati, in a rented Mercedes-Benz SUV.

As she crossed the city line at her destination hunting resort, she was pulled over by a deputy sheriff, who tried to impound her car on the grounds that the town had recently banned the driving of foreign-made vehicles within its jurisdiction. Her response to the law enforcement officer: "I'm white, I'm rich and I'm Republican. That makes it legal for me to mistake you for a quail."

Needless to say, she ended up in jail. And what followed was an interesting exploration of the constitutional law concerning constraints on trade, along with some of the usual schmaltzy pap.

Auto loans and patriotism

Your blogger spends much of his time thinking about people who are buying cars, so he watched the story unfold with some interest. The town's mayor, played by George Wendt from Cheers, was clearly intended to be a sympathetic character, whose motivations for banning imported cars were noble. All he wanted to do was protect American jobs, so many of which are currently under threat from--or have already been lost to--foreign imports and outsourcing. Of course, Harry won in the end. (You may have noticed that, in television dramas in which defence attorneys are heroes, no defendant ever goes to jail or prison, a fact that might raise eyebrows among the 2.3 million Americans whom The Economist says were enduring incarceration in 2010.)

If, right now, you're among those considering signing for auto loans, then you may well share that mayor's wish to save American jobs. Way to go. It's a worthy ambition. But don't imagine that you necessarily have to buy a traditional American brand to keep Americans in work.

According to Toyota's U.S. website, that company has:

  • Created some 365,000 American jobs

  • Invested $18 billion in the U.S. economy

  • Purchased $24.9 billion worth of goods and services within America

Auto loans and Harry's car

Harry was stopped by the deputy sheriff because she was driving a Mercedes-Benz SUV. And that surprised your blogger, because he already knew that his sister-in-law, who lives in Ireland, has a Mercedes-Benz SUV. And it was built in the good-old U.S. of A. (even though its steering wheel is on the wrong side), and exported from America.

Indeed, Mercedes-Benz's website claims that 571,003 first-generation M-Class vehicles (presumably including a certain sister-in-law's) were built at its Tuscaloosa County, Ala., facility. And it says that "65% of vehicle content comes from [the] NAFTA region - the engines and transmissions come from Germany." And it goes on to report that: "Production volume in 2010 was 125,393 vehicles."

Feeling good about auto loans

None of this is intended to cause readers to pause as they sign up for auto loans for all-American cars. It's probably the best way to ensure you put something back into the U.S. economy. But, depending on the manufacturer you choose, you may find that you're doing your bit for the greater good even if you choose a "foreign" brand.

Perhaps the most important of the choices you have to make is the one that could make the most difference to your own and your family's life: getting quotations for auto loans that provide the best deal for you.


About Author:

Peter Andrew has been writing about -- and for -- business for more than two decades. For the last couple of years, he has found himself increasingly specializing in the U.S. financial sector.

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