The most recent data out of the New York Fed is ominous. The current auto loans that are in serious delinquency (meaning that they are over 90 days past due) has jumped to a percentage of 4.69 percent for first quarter 2019. In the darkest days of the Great Recession, they only peaked a bit higher at 5.27 percent.
These car loan delinquencies have now stretched up to their greatest amount dating back to 2011 and are nearing those scary Great Recession peaks. In actual dollars, the debt of delinquent auto accounts is already massively higher than witnessed in the Global Financial Crisis, as the chart below reveals:
Current delinquent car loans are around $60 billion. They are now nearly twice as bad in dollar terms as during the Great Recession’s peak.
This at the same time as the outstanding balances on car loans and leases increased by four percent for year over year (Q1) up to $1.28 trillion. Even as the dollar total of outstanding car loans has risen, total numbers of accounts are only up by around 34 percent from the past decade. WolfStreet puts it this way:
“In other words, what caused much of the increase in the auto loan balances is the ballooning amount financed with each new loan and longer loan terms that causes those loans to stay on the books longer.”
It is a specter from the past in that the majority of the delinquent accounts prove to be the subprime car loans. These are loans made to highly risky borrowers. The banks have once again packed these up like they did with the subprime mortgages that caused the housing crash in the first place. Bloomberg has said about the smaller car lenders’ pain that it:
“Parallels with the subprime mortgage crisis last decade, when the demise of finance companies like Ownit Mortgage and Sebring Capital Partners were a harbinger that bigger losses for the financial system were coming.”
Ah, another wonderful bubble that the Federal Reserve has blown with their insanely easy monetary stance and policy.
Car lenders at least have seen the proverbial writing on the wall. They have started tightening up their underwriting standards in what is likely a too little, too late move. It has served to force subprime borrowers to the used car market. This trend has led to the the peak of new car sales back in 2016. By Q1 of this year, total new vehicle sales had dropped significantly by 3.2 percent from 2018 Q1. This year 2019 already looks like another sinking year for the car industry, leading to three years in a row of declining sales.
Is Your Retirement Portfolio Protected from the Plunging Subprime Auto Market and Car Industry?
The subprime car loan market appears to be nearing a collapse point. There is a hope that it will not have as out-sized an effect on the entire economy as the housing market crash did back in year 2008. The good news is that the auto loan business is not so large in dollars’ terms. Yet it indicates what the larger trends within the American economy actually are these days. Perhaps most worrying is that such skyrocketing delinquency rates and plunging car sales have occurred within the middle of the so-called currently booming economy.
Do not forget that other debt areas of the economy are at dangerously record highs too. Student loans and their delinquencies are at all-time highs (over a trillion dollars), the federal debt is over $22 trillion now, and the total consumer credit also just made another record high. This economy built on debt is set for a fall that appears to be already in the works judging by the auto lending market. You need a true safe haven hedge to save your retirement portfolio from these scary scenarios. Gold comes through with the greatest track record in history, stretching back over 3,000 years. Having gold in your retirement accounts helps you to rest easy, knowing that your assets are protected by the dependable yellow metal.
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