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 2018
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

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…

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.

Joseph Cioffi contributes his insights to this American Banker article that provides perspectives from industry insiders regarding the trends affecting auto loan performance, including longer maturities on used auto loans. “Borrowers can get underwater very easily on a used car with a 7-year loan,” Joseph said. Click here to view the full article.

Joseph Cioffi shared his insights with American Banker, authoring an article, “A Whole Lot of Hurt in Auto Lending May be Coming,” examining troubles on the horizon for subprime auto lenders and investors in subprime auto loan ABS. Joseph draws comparisons and significant distinctions between current market conditions and practices in the auto loan industry and the market forces and industry practices in subprime mortgage lending leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. Joseph anticipates auto lending will follow an inevitable cycle, and in the end the winners will be those who learn from the past and take corrective action now….