The Next Subprime Crisis Is Here: 12 Signs That A Day Of Reckoning Has Arrived For The U.S. Auto Industry

In 2008, subprime mortgages almost single-handedly took down the entire financial system, and now a new subprime crisis is here.  In recent years, the auto industry has been able to boost sales by aggressively pushing people into auto loans that they cannot afford.  In particular, auto loans made to consumers with subprime credit have been accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of the market.  Unfortunately, when you make loans to people that should not be getting them, eventually a lot of those loans are going to start to go bad, and that is precisely what is happening now.  Meanwhile, automakers and dealers are starting to panic as sales have begun to fall and used car prices have started to crash.  If you work in the auto industry, you might remember how horrible the last recession was, and this new downturn could eventually turn out to be even worse.  The following are 12 signs that a day of reckoning has arrived for the U.S. auto industry…

#1 Seven out of the eight largest automakers in the United States fell short of their sales projections in March.

#2 Overall, U.S. auto sales so far in 2017 have been described as a “disaster” despite record spending on consumer incentives by automakers.

#3 Dealer inventories are now at the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  Why this is so troubling is because there are a whole lot of unsold vehicles just sitting there doing nothing, and this is becoming a major financial problem for many dealers.

#4 It now takes an average of 74 days before a dealer is able to sell a new vehicle.  This number is also the highest that it has been since the last financial crisis.

#5 Not only is Ford projecting that sales will fall this year, they are also projecting that sales will fall in 2018 as well.

#6 Used vehicle prices are already starting to decline dramatically

The used-vehicle price index from the National Automobile Dealers Association posted a 3.8% decline in February compared to the prior month. NADA also said wholesale prices fell 1.6%.

#7 As I discussed yesterday, Morgan Stanley is projecting that used car prices “could crash by up to 50%” over the next four or five years.

#8 Right now, more than a million Americans are behind on their payments on their auto loans.  This is something that has not happened since the last financial crisis.

#9 In 2017, U.S. consumers are more “underwater” on their auto loans than they have ever been before.

#10 Subprime auto loan losses have soared to their highest level since the last financial crisis, and the delinquency rate on those loans has risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis.  By now, I am sure that you are starting to notice a pattern in these data points.

#11 At this moment, approximately $200,000,000,000 has been loaned out by auto lenders to consumers with subprime credit.

#12 Just like with subprime mortgages in the run up to the last financial crisis, subprime auto loans have been bundled together and sold as “securities” to investors.  And just like last time around, this has turned out to be a recipe for disaster

Many auto loans, including those considered subprime, are securitized and sold to investors. But Morgan Stanley recently reported that the share of auto securities tied to “deep subprime” loans – those given to borrowers with a FICO credit score below 550 — has risen from 5.1 percent in 2010 to 32.5 percent today. It said defaults on those bonds have risen significantly in the past five years.

Almost a quarter of the more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. auto loan debt is owed by subprime borrowers, and delinquency rates have hit their highest point in seven years.

In the old days, you could always count on the U.S. auto industry to bounce back eventually because of the economic strength of average U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, the middle class in America is being systematically hollowed out by long-term economic trends that our leaders in Washington D.C. have consistently ignored.

We have become a nation of economic extremes.  There are more millionaires in this country than ever before, but meanwhile poverty is exploding in communities all over the country.

If you live in a prosperous area, things may be going great where you live for the moment.  But as Gallup has discovered, an all-time record high percentage of Americans are worrying “a great deal” about hunger and homelessness these days…

Over the past two years, an average of 67% of lower-income U.S. adults, up from 51% from 2010-2011, have worried “a great deal” about the problem of hunger and homelessness in the country. Concern has also increased among middle- and upper-income Americans, but they still worry far less than do lower-income Americans.

You may have plenty of money in your bank account, and so for you hunger and homelessness are not very big issues.  But for those that are just scraping by from month to month, having enough food and a place to sleep at night are top priorities.  Here is more from Gallup

Americans at all income levels are expressing greater concern about hunger and homelessness, and it is the top worry among lower-income Americans, who are most likely to struggle to pay for adequate food and housing.

In addition to the woes of the auto industry, the retail industry is going through the worst wave of store closings in modern American history, pension funds are melting down all over the nation, and stocks are primed for a crash of epic proportions.  Things are lining up just right for the kind of scenario that I laid out in The Beginning Of The End, but unfortunately most people are not listening to the warnings.

The same thing happened just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  All of the warning signs were there well in advance, and many of the experts were warning about what was coming as early as 2005.  But because it did not happen immediately, a lot of people greatly mocked the warnings.

But then the fall of 2008 arrived and all of the mockers suddenly went silent.

As you can see from the numbers that I shared above, a new crisis has already arrived.

The only question now is how bad it will ultimately turn out to be.

As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

If You Are Waiting For An “Economic Collapse”, Just Look At What Is Happening To Europe

European UnionIf you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the “economic collapse”, just open up your eyes and look at what is happening in Europe.  The entire continent is a giant economic mess right now.  Unemployment and poverty levels are setting record highs, car sales are setting record lows, and there is an ocean of bad loans and red ink everywhere you look.  Over the past several years, most of the attention has been on the economic struggles of Greece, Spain and Portugal and without a doubt things continue to get even worse in those nations.  But in 2014 and 2015, Italy and France will start to take center stage.  France has the 5th largest economy on the planet, and Italy has the 9th largest economy on the planet, and at this point both of those economies are rapidly falling to pieces.  Expect both France and Italy to make major headlines throughout the rest of 2014.  I have always maintained that the next major wave of the economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening.  The following are just a few of the statistics that show that an “economic collapse” is happening in Europe right now…

-The unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole is still sitting at an all-time record high of 12.1 percent.

-It Italy, the unemployment rate has soared to a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 percent.

-The youth unemployment rate in Italy has jumped up to 41.6 percent.

-The level of poverty in Italy is now the highest that has ever been recorded.

-Many analysts expect major economic trouble in Italy over the next couple of years.  The President of Italy is openly warning of “widespread social tension and unrest” in his nation in 2014.

-Citigroup is projecting that Italy’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 140 percent by the year 2016.

-Citigroup is projecting that Greece’s debt to GDP ratio will surpass 200 percent by the year 2016.

-Citigroup is projecting that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 32 percent in 2015.

-The unemployment rate in Spain is still sitting at an all-time record high of 26.7 percent.

-The youth unemployment rate in Spain is now up to 57.7 percent – even higher than in Greece.

-The percentage of bad loans in Spain has risen for eight straight months and recently hit a brand new all-time record high of 13 percent.

-The number of mortgage applications in Spain has fallen by 90 percent since the peak of the housing boom.

-The unemployment rate in France has risen for 9 quarters in a row and recently soared to a new 16 year high.

-For 2013, car sales in Europe were on pace to hit the lowest yearly level ever recorded.

-Deutsche Bank, probably the most important bank in Germany, is the most highly leveraged bank in Europe (60 to 1) and it has approximately 70 trillion dollars worth of exposure to derivatives.

Europe truly is experiencing an economic nightmare, and it is only going to get worse.

It would be hard to put into words the extreme desperation that unemployed workers throughout Europe are feeling right now.  When you can’t feed your family and you can’t find work no matter how hard you try, it can be absolutely soul crushing.

To get an idea of the level of desperation in Spain, check out the following anecdote from a recent NPR article

Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe’s staggering unemployment problem?

Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

The plans to open a new megastore next summer near Valencia. On Monday, Ikea’s started taking applications for 400 jobs at the new store.

The company wasn’t prepared for what came next.

Within 48 hours, more than 20,000 people had applied online for those 400 jobs. The volume crashed Ikea’s computer servers in Spain.

Of course that should kind of remind you of what I wrote about yesterday.  We are starting to see this kind of intense competition for low paying jobs in the United States as well.

As global economic conditions continue to deteriorate, things are going to get even tougher for those on the low end of the economic food chain.  Poverty rates are going to soar, even in areas where you might not expect it to happen.  In fact, one new report discovered that poverty has already been rising steadily in Germany, which is supposed to be the strongest economy in the entire eurozone…

A few days before the Christmas holidays, the Joint Welfare Association published a report on the regional development of poverty in Germany in 2013 titled “Between prosperity and poverty—a test to breaking point”. The report refutes the official propaganda that Germany has remained largely unaffected by the crisis and is a haven of prosperity in Europe.

According to the report, poverty in Germany has “reached a sad record high”. Entire cities and regions have been plunged into ever deeper economic and social crisis. “The social and regional centrifugal forces, as measured by the spread of incomes, have increased dramatically in Germany since 2006,” it says. Germany faces “a test to breaking point.”

Of course poverty continues to explode on this side of the Atlantic Ocean as well.  In the United States, the poverty rate has been at 15 percent or above for three years in a row.  That is the first time that this has happened since the 1960s.

And this is just the beginning.  The extreme recklessness of European banks such as Deutsche Bank and U.S. banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Goldman Sachs is eventually going to cause a financial catastrophe far worse than what we experienced back in 2008.

When that crisis arrives, the flow of credit is going to freeze up dramatically and economic activity will grind to a standstill.  Unemployment, poverty and all of our current economic problems will become much, much worse.

So as bad as things are right now, the truth is that this is nothing compared to what is coming.

I hope that you are getting prepared for the coming storm while you still can.

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