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.
Dec 2017
Lending Practices and Factors i
Subprime and deep subprime lending and securitization have risen sharply; delinquencies are on the rise, but not yet above peak levels. Risky practices exposing specific lenders and their investors to losses; other lenders will be similarly exposed if they chase market share.
ABS Practices and Factors i
Credit enhancements such as excess spread, overcollateralization and subordination continue to create a buffer from riskiest lending practices. Investors have not yet felt the sting of riskiest practices.
Auto Market Risks i
New vehicle prices are at all-time highs, but sales incentives and high supply of off-lease vehicles are depressing used vehicle prices, accelerating depreciation and driving up negative equity on trade-ins. Advances in technology will likely accelerate depreciation further.

Featured Post

As we said in our last post regarding vulnerability in credit enhancements and litigation risk, subprime auto ABS investors have historically slept easy in light of ample credit enhancements that have provided a protective cushion from losses. Based on the reactions, it seems some have been stirred from their slumber. The question now is what’s next?  Will market participants, after kicking the tires, find reason for alarm or will they hit the “snooze” button and go…

As we said in our last post regarding vulnerability in credit enhancements and litigation risk, subprime auto ABS investors have historically slept easy in light of ample credit enhancements that have provided a protective cushion from losses. Based on the reactions, it seems some have been stirred from their slumber. The question now is what’s next?  Will market participants, after kicking the tires, find reason for alarm or will they hit the “snooze” button and go back to sleep? To paraphrase the Bard, “Aye, there’s the rub – for in that sleep what dreams may come.”

Several events have occurred recently warranting a recalculation of the Subprime Auto Loan Crisis Chronometer’s measurement of the overall risk of loss allocation battles. …

Historically, investors in subprime auto asset-backed securities (ABS) have been able to sleep well at night. They have rested easy in part because credit enhancements in securitizations have protected them from losses.  Today, due in large part to the safety expected from credit enhancements, rumblings about the parallels between subprime auto lending and pre-financial crisis subprime mortgage lending – and the cataclysmic end those parallels could portend – have barely disturbed the subprime auto ABS market.

Overcollateralization (O/C) rates are often touted as particularly protective for subprime auto ABS.  It’s true, of course: As investors have rightfully demanded greater O/C rates on riskier pools,…

Self-driving cars, car sharing and subscription-based vehicle services: these are destined to affect the auto industry in ways that will make the current sales slump and shift from cars to SUVs seem like a bump in the road. Predictions vary widely as to when the sea change in how we think about cars and how they fit into our lives will come, but its inevitable arrival is often portrayed as part of a brighter, safer, cleaner and more efficient tomorrow.

The dark undercarriage of this issue is the insidious effect that the technology,…

A Federal Reserve blog post in November 2016 attracted widespread attention to subprime auto lending and the similarities easily drawn, at least on the surface, to subprime mortgage lending leading up to the financial crisis of 2008.  The warnings of commentators who have sounded the alarm in the past six months have been rebutted at every turn, due mainly to the small footprint of the auto loan and related ABS market relative to subprime mortgages and RMBS at their peak.  However, crises come in all sizes. The auto lending industry could be thrown into a tailspin,…

Joseph Cioffi is quoted in an American Banker article discussing the recent settlement between the Massachusetts Attorney General and Santander, arising from alleged fraudulent auto loan activity at certain “high-risk” car dealerships. Joseph says, “The lesson is that audits and controls in place are not enough, you can’t just monitor a problem. You have to take action.” Click here to view the full article.

Joseph Cioffi contributes to Blueshift Research’s report featuring an in-depth look into subprime auto loans from a diverse range of industry perspectives, including, new and used car dealerships, repossessors and finance companies. Regarding the inevitable comparison to subprime mortgage lending, Joseph notes, “Large financial institutions were making large bets in that market. It was a widespread phenomenon. The subprime auto loan market may become a very large problem for a more contained market. It doesn’t carry the systemic risk of the subprime bubble.” Click here to view the full article.