Just when you thought it safe to go back into the loan market. . . .
Yes, you guessed it: a bubble may be about to pop.
There are actually several, but here’s one you might not expect: the automobile loan market.
Though less regulated and tampered with than the housing market, auto loans aren’t immune to “moral hazard” and other government-induced dangers. The Fed’s low interest rates are almost certainly stimulating the new car market. “Subprime” car loans are way up and so are delinquencies. Do the bankers making these decreasingly solvent loans expect a bailout?
As Eric Peters notes at his immensely fascinating automobile website, the average car loan is now $32,000, “a record high.” And then there’s the “ever-increasing duration of new cars loans. They are now on average six years long — and seven year loans are becoming pretty common.”
Why? “In order to spread out payments (now averaging almost $500 a month) that have become simply too much to manage for most people.”
But then of course car prices are rising. And not just because of simple inflation. It’s the result of government regulations, mandates, and . . . general craziness. Many buyers now finance used car purchases, too, as Mr. Peters explains. That used to be fairly uncommon. The used-car market has been unduly affected by government insanity as well. Remember Cash for Clunkers? Politicians boasted about their managed destruction of millions of used autos.
What they really achieved was a tighter-than-ever supply of usable older cars.
Cruising toward the auto-destruct of the auto-loan markets.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
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