7 million Americans have gone into “serious delinquency” on their car loans.
The automobile industry in both the US and Europe for different reasons has started to look like a serious drag on the Western economy that threatens to tip both continents into recession.
In Europe, many people have simply stopped buying cars.
More than 7 million Americans have gone into “serious delinquency” on their car loans , according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and that is one of the reasons the US Fed has become more cautious about raising interest rates.
In fact, the automobile industry in both the US and Europe for different reasons has started to look like a serious drag on the Western economy that threatens to tip both continents into recession. In America, it’s auto-loan debt. In Europe, many people have simply stopped buying cars.
Both factors suggest that consumers feel their finances are no longer robust enough to handle big-ticket purchases.
First, in the US, an increasing number of Americans have apparently become too poor to continue paying for the cars they drive. 90-day past-due delinquencies among 18-to-29-year-olds are already at the same level they were back in 2008, during the financial crisis:
Screenshot 2019 02 14 at 12.03.40
Now look at what has happened in the eurozone, the 19 European countries that use the euro currency:
EZ car regs cap econ
What is happening in Europe is complicated, and not directly correlated to auto-loan debt. But it’s having the same effect: People have reduced the car-buying by as much as 10%, and that’s threatening to tip Europe into recession.
In Germany the world’s fourth-largest economy and Europe’s driving manufacturing force new-car buying fell off a cliff in the last few months.
Economists have more recently been cheered by an uptick in sales, but they are still rising from a steep trough and well below the level they were at a year ago:
Germany car buying Screenshot 2019 02 14 at 11.36.54
Disastrous auto sales are one of the major factors in hurting the German economy, which went into a technical recession in Q3 2018 and appears to have stagnated, with exactly 0.0% growth, in Q4 2018:
Britain has problems too. This is new car registrations in the UK:
UK car sales
Since 2017, British consumers seem to have permanently shaved about 10 percentage points off their demand for new cars.
The German and British car markets are closely linked. Unsurprisingly, Brexit especially if Britain leaves the European Union with no trade deal will hurt both of them. Oxford Economics estimates “no deal” will cut 0.3 percentage points from Europe’s manufacturing economy, but up to 0.7 points from the car industries.
“Particularly vulnerable would be the German and Spanish industries, with output falling 0.6 ppt and 0.8 ppt below baseline over the same period,” Oxford analyst Stephen Foreman told clients recently.