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.
Mar 2019
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

Red and blue is the new black and white, but the country could use a lot more purple. Seems few can take a position publicly these days unless it’s extreme – whether it’s a political debate or the meaning of the New York Fed’s recent Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit showing an uptick in subprime auto delinquency. Intelligence includes the ability to see the other side’s point of view. The truth is out there –…

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.

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.