20 years of American spending power, in Harleys

As an expensive, discretionary luxury good frequently purchased on credit, there’s perhaps no better indication of the health of the American economy than sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Tonight, as President Obama prepares to lay out his plan for economic recovery, let’s take a look at what Harley can tell us about how bad we’re hurting.

This graphic illustrates domestic shipments of all Harley motorcycles by year from 1991 to 2010. As you can see, it dovetails nicely with historical GDP data. Why the discrepancy between the GDP increase and Harley sales decrease in 2010? Maybe that's those jobs everyone keeps talking about.

Illustration: Grant Ray

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