But profits evaporated, creating an era of so-called profitless prosperity in the middle of the decade when auto makers sold record numbers of vehicles in the U.S. market - as many as 17-million annually - and lost tens of billions of dollars.
That led to years of what is known as profitless prosperity, when Americans were buying 16 million vehicles or more annually, auto plants were humming and GM, Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. were losing tens of billions of dollars.
"It's sometimes referred to as profitless prosperity."
In the court's 5-3 decision (Justice Samuel Alito was recused since he owns over $100,000 in Exxon stock) Justice David Souter wrote that the Exxon Valdez spill was "profitless" for the company and that the penalty should be "reasonably predictable" in its severity.
What it says is that with significant but bearable cost, in terms of sluggish growth and a kind of profitless quasi-prosperity for a couple of years, we can work out of this unique animal that Reaganomics produced in the early 1980s.