Subprime Auto Loan Crisis Chronometer

Crisis /krīsis/: A turning point that results in a battle over loss allocation.

Will there be a crisis? Are we near one?

Practices and factors similar to those contributing to the subprime mortgage meltdown are now impacting subprime auto lending and related ABS. The gauges reflect our take on how they are impacting risks for lenders and investors.

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The Subprime Auto Loan Crisis Chronometer shows the risk of battles over loss allocation.
Feb 2019
Lending Practices and Factors i
Subprime originations have trended down but securitization volume continues to increase. Subprime delinquencies in the secondary market are on the rise and have surpassed peak levels. Risky practices are exposing specific lenders and their investors to losses, as evidenced by the closure of a number of smaller subprime auto lenders earlier this year.
ABS Practices and Factors i
Credit enhancements such as excess spread, overcollateralization and subordination have increased in new deals and continue to create a buffer from riskiest lending practices. Investors have not yet felt the sting of riskiest practices.
Auto Market Risks i
New and used vehicle prices are at all-time highs, but sales incentives and high supply of off-lease vehicles are accelerating depreciation and driving up negative equity on trade-ins. Advances in technology will likely accelerate depreciation further.

Featured Post

If you want to know the truth, no one can really predict the future of any market by themselves; everyone is limited by data and perceptions. Without shared knowledge and experience, the future remains a puzzle only time can solve. Where there is limited information, J.D. Salinger’s prediction is inevitable: “the fact is always obvious much too late.” But in subprime auto ABS, we don’t have to succumb to Salinger’s fatalism. By taking the pulse of all types…

If you want to know the truth, no one can really predict the future of any market by themselves; everyone is limited by data and perceptions. Without shared knowledge and experience, the future remains a puzzle only time can solve. Where there is limited information, J.D. Salinger’s prediction is inevitable: “the fact is always obvious much too late.”

But in subprime auto ABS, we don’t have to succumb to Salinger’s fatalism. By taking the pulse of all types of industry participants – lenders, servicers, investors, trustees and others – Credit Chronometer’s survey will contribute to a more informed,…

No one had suffered any losses, or at least it seemed no one could remember having done so. S&P had not downgraded any subprime auto loan ABS since just after the turn of the century or any other auto loan ABS since 2011. Credit enhancements were widely deemed sufficient to absorb any worst-case scenario. With a long track record of success and protections in place, few blinked when one non-bank lender, Honor Finance, went decidedly deep down the credit scale.

It was 2016 and Honor Finance had just brought its HATS 2016-1 securitization to market….

There’s a caution flag out for subprime auto loan securitizations.

The Class C tranche of Honor Finance’s HATS 2016-1 – the deal that jump-started the debate as to how low deep subprime issuances could go before subprime auto ABS’s reputation for safety would be blemished – has been downgraded by S&P and KBRA. And now, what investors looked for yesterday is likely different than what investors will look for today. Two areas to watch: the strength of management and the level of credit enhancements. Rating agencies are sensitive to both,…

“They are who we thought they were!”

Observing the rising tide of borrower delinquencies in subprime auto lending, I’m reminded of that famous outburst by the former NFL coach, Dennis Green. No one should be that surprised when subprime borrowers default. The question has always been and will continue to be whether credit enhancements – like overcollateralization and excess spread – will be sufficient to absorb the resulting losses.  Now that lower grade tranches have gained popularity among investors, and lower tranches are in greater danger than ever of going underwater,…

Usury has made quite a comeback from the dust heap of old law treatises to become a crucial concept that has shaped modern credit markets. It recently returned to public awareness in marketplace lending, where online lenders have avoided making loans in states comprising the Second Circuit, such as New York, due to an unfavorable usury decision. Now, light has been shed on subprime auto financing and an exception to usury laws that’s creating risk for an already shaky market.

Usury: It’s An Old Concept …

New York’s usury laws were put on the books as early as 1787 to protect desperate borrowers from being preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders who use that desperation as leverage….

New Tech, New Risks

There are always risks to forging a new path. When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs) like the Model S and Model X that back Tesla’s latest deal, there are peculiar risks beyond those that normally accompany auto asset-backed securities (ABS). Given a lack of historical data, there is the risk of uncertain residual or resale values, and moreover, the potential for those values to fall below expectations for any number of reasons. For example, new technology may emerge that leapfrogs the manufacturer’s current offering, or production start-up problems may prevent the manufacturer from fulfilling demand….