7 million Americans behind on car loan payments

14 Février, 2019, 04:06 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Record 7 million Americans are 3 months behind on car payments a red flag for the economy

The boom in vehicle sales has been associated with strong increase in new auto loans, with $584 billion in new loans and leases appearing on credit reports past year - the highest level in the almost two decades of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. That figure exceeded the level recorded in 2010, during the Great Recession.

About 6.5 percent of the total debt issued by auto finance companies was past due by the end of 2018.

The analysis said auto loans given at the dealer level to less qualified buyers - instead of through banks or credit unions - are most responsible for the delinquencies.

The report notes that there were more than a million more troubled borrowers past year than at the end of 2010, when the rate of delinquency peaked amid the recession.

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"Auto loan originations for 2018 reached an all-time high", said Joelle Scally, Administrator of the Center for Microeconomic Data at the New York Fed.

Even though more people are delinquent on their auto loans, there has also been a tremendous growth in the nominal amount of United States auto loans in existence, the report says.

Total debt held by U.S. households surged by almost $400 billion in 2018 to more than $13.5 trillion, marking the sixth straight annual increase, even as home mortgages declined, according to data released Tuesday. Credit card balances rose 1.5 percent in Q4, the 24th consecutive quarter with an increase, the Fed study said.

The report said the overall credit quality improved at the end of previous year, but "with growth in auto loan participation, there are now more subprime auto loan borrowers than ever, and thus a larger group of borrowers at high risk of delinquency".

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