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.
Jul 2018
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

“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…

“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….

Joseph Cioffi recently sat down with William Hoffman, Associate Editor of Auto Finance News, for an episode of “The Roadmap,” a podcast from the Center for Auto Finance Excellence, a site dedicated to providing best practices for auto finance industry executives and investors. Joseph and William discussed trends apparent in recent subprime auto loan securitizations, and the outlook for the market going forward, including a close look at the interrelationships between credit enhancements, credit quality and credit ratings.

The discussion builds on Joseph’s thoughts first shared on a post on Credit Chronometer….

Wells Fargo is being put on a highly restrictive diet by the Federal Reserve and won’t get any relief until its compliance and governance shape up.  Under the terms of the Fed’s Consent Order, Wells cannot grow its consolidated assets beyond the total consolidated assets reported at the end of 2017.  Although Wells is dismissing the effect of the Order as a nothingburger, if there’s really no effect, it’s probably because Wells already lacks opportunity for growth in deposits and lending as a result of its recent scandals and the massive consumer distrust that has followed. …

If the subprime auto loan asset-backed securities (ABS) market collapses, any post-mortem is likely to begin and end with the underlying auto market.  Of course, it won’t all be about sales practices and consumer trends – there would also likely be closely-related contributing factors in lending and ABS practices.  But despite growing concerns, following the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, it appears the auto market is poised for a year of activity centered mainly around “innovations” that are inconsequential to the larger issues that are sure to buffet the industry.

If Detroit is any indication,…