Slowing demand in cars is causing automakers to cut down production to balance the rise in available inventory. April is the fourth month in a row where automakers report poor sales. Apparently, fewer Americans are buying cars now. But what caused this?
The possibility for disaster
You might be familiar of the subprime auto loan crisis that has recently grabbed headlines. A quarter of the American auto loan debt of $1.2 trillion is lent to high-risk borrowers or those who have not-so-stellar credit scores. As the panic sinks in among lenders, many tried to mitigate disaster by setting stricter guidelines and qualifications on their loan services and products. Now, a third of new auto loan originations are given to borrowers with FICO scores 720 and up.
The tightening of credit, along with the rise in interest rates is making it harder for many potential borrowers to get financing for their vehicle-buying intent. Many are reconsidering their intention to buy new cars, with others just settling for used ones.
But the question right now is: is the mortgage sector following the auto loan sector’s example?
A new report from the Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officer Survey has shown that commercial real estate lending standards tightened in the second half of 2016 following a warning by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency regarding the easing of loan standards for mortgage originations. An analysis of a sample of fusion commercial mortgage-backed securities spanning the period of 2012 through the first quarter of 2017 also showed a significant drop in LTV (loan-to-value) ratio this year which indicates that commercial mortgage-backed securities lenders are tightening credit as well.
Remember that the boom of subprime mortgages caused the collapse of the housing market and paved the way for the Great Recession back in 2008. Of course, nobody would want to take that disastrous dive once more. Still, this does not prevent many other private players from taking advantage of the lack in competition. Those who choose to do so are racking up $20.4 billion last year alone, a significant rise compared to $12.2 billion the previous year.
Not plunging into crisis is a collective effort. But in this game of risk and rewards, the intent is always individually-motivated. Are we mature enough as a collective to never make the same mistake twice?