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.

i
The Subprime Auto Loan Crisis Chronometer shows the risk of battles over loss allocation.
Dec 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

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…

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,…

Joseph Cioffi recently sat down with Raul Panganiban of ValueWalk, a site covering the latest financial news impacting hedge funds and asset managers with an emphasis on value investing, for their podcast “ValueTalks.” Joseph and Raul discussed the importance of credit enhancements in subprime auto securitizations, and in particular, Joseph’s views regarding their vulnerability.

The discussion builds on Joseph’s thoughts first shared on a post on Credit Chronometer. Following the warnings in the post, new issuances have been marked by higher credit enhancements.

Listen to the full podcast here….

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,…