The Big 3 automakers all reported sales declines in November, but two of them, Ford and GM, continue to believe 2001 will be an exceptionally good year for their companies.

The reduced level of auto sales, and the lower level of manufacturing activity in general, has led some observers to call for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to prevent the economy from slipping into recession.

On Friday (Dec. 1), the president of the National Association of Manufacturers said the Fed should, at least, remove its current bias, which in favor of more interest rate increases.

The Fed will meet again on Dec. 19, and most economists believe it will leave rates unchanged.

During recent sessions, the Fed left rates unchanged but hinted it might raise rates again in the near future if it sees signs of inflation accelerating.

In the auto sector, Ford saw its sales decline 7% in the U.S. in November, while GM saw its car sales fall 9% and its light-truck sales drop 8% last month.

DaimlerChrysler saw its car sales plunge 15% and its light-truck sales dip 2% in November.

Ford and GM both said sales in 2001 will be below the level of 2000, but that 2001 will be the third-best year in history, after 2000 and 1999.