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.
Oct 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.

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,…

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,…