Study: Automotive Debt Is Out of Control, You're Being Swindled

Consumer Reports just released the findings of a year-long stud y looking into the latest trends in automotive loans and car payments. The resulting information highlights just how explosive the debt growth has been over the last 10 years and the arbitrary way in which borrowers are now being treated.

Long story short, we’re all being swindled.

With vehicle prices ballooning and the associated loans becoming longer than ever, dealers and lenders seem to be operating whatever way yields the steepest profit margins with only a modicum of consideration being given to the established frameworks designed to act as a guard rail. This has led to U.S. citizens carrying around a record $1.37 trillion in automotive load debt and customers with good credit being treated no different than those that fall into the subprime category. Sadly, the issue appears only appears to be worsening as new economic perils are only making things more expensive. Meanwhile, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is projecting national auto debt to swell to $1.42 trillion by year’s end.

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Goldman Sachs Expands Interests Into Automotive Tech

Goldman Sachs is creating a joint venture that will help it capitalize on automotive technology firms while they’re consistently being overvalued on the New York Stock Exchange. Automotive startups have become a hot item, so long as they’re trading on the assumed merits of new technologies, and there’s no shortage of new companies being propped up by established players. The last few years have been a merry-go-round of establishment automakers and financial intuitions investing in startups on the off chance they might have something useful.

Meanwhile, burgeoning electric vehicle companies are using special purpose acquisition firms (aka blank-check companies) to maximize their advantage. Even though some have argued this is being done unfairly, there’s not much accountability in general. The iron could not be more primed for striking if you happen to be one of America’s largest banks.

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Wells Fargo Settles for $386 Million in Auto Insurance Suit

Wells Fargo will reportedly pay customers a minimum of $386 million to settle class-action claims that the bank covertly signed customers up for auto insurance they did not want or need.

Back in the summer of 2017, the bank found itself implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses. Over a year later, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to settle U.S. investigations into the company’s insurance and mortgage practices.

While the auto insurance plan ended in 2016, roughly 800,000 customers (or 600k by Wells Fargo’s estimates) were believed to be affected by the auto insurance issue over roughly a four-year period. For most, that meant being overcharged for insurance they didn’t need., but some customers ended up with their vehicles repossessed and their credit rating demolished, promoting the class-action suit.

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New Lawsuit Alleges Wells Fargo Execs Knew About Auto Insurance Scam for Years

Roughly a year ago, Wells Fargo got itself into hot water over shady business practices relating to widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse. After a lengthy investigation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency eventually suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes. President Donald Trump then said federal agencies needed to go after the bank hard to set an example. The agencies came back with a consent order saying it was time to pay up.

Despite the insurance issue affecting an estimated 800,000 customers over a four-year period, Wells Fargo seemed able to recover from the scandal and move past it. However, new allegations claim the bank’s leadership was aware customers were probably being overcharged several years before it finally cancelled the program.

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Wells Fargo Fined $1 Billion For Auto Insurance Scandal, Mortgage Misdeeds

Wells Fargo is getting slammed with all kinds of penalties over shady business practices. Currently prohibited from growing its business as investigators look into its practices, the bank has restructured itself after it was implicated in widespread auto insurance and mortgage lending abuse in the summer of 2017. It’s also still coping with an earlier scandal involving local branches opening fake accounts for customers.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggested Well Fargo pay $1 billion to “resolve” the governmental probes into those issues. That changed today when the bureau filed a consent order announcing it was time for the bank to pay up.

The fine applies to the mortgage lending issues, as well as Wells Fargo’s past practice of charging thousands of auto loan customers for insurance they didn’t need and often didn’t even know about. The move caused some borrowers to default on their loans, resulting in their vehicles being repossessed. The consent order mandates that the bank remediate those customers.

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Used Car Prices Are Falling, but Don't Worry - Lenders Are Still Raking in the Dough

Earlier this year, auto lenders assured us that the stagnating car market and an unprecedented number of off-lease vehicles flooding into used vehicle lots would coalesce into the perfect storm of unprofitability. However, despite stoking the flames of terror at the beginning of the year, automotive lenders are doing just fine.

We’re sure you’re all very pleased to read car financiers are still doing so well and have likely collectively exhaled a sigh of relief. But there’s more good news. Some of these companies aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving. Several have even reported record high profits, even though used car prices continue to fall. It may be time to pop the champagne corks, pour out the bubbly, and hoist our glasses for the financial institutions we all love so dearly.

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Lenders Snatch Back the Piggy Bank After Taking a Hit on Auto Loans

April was the fourth consecutive month to see U.S. auto sales underperform compared to 2016, leading many to speculate that the long-awaited slump has finally arrived. New car sales aren’t the only thing slipping, as used vehicle values — diminished by a flood of off-lease stock and new car incentives — is on the same downward trajectory.

At the same time, the country’s biggest auto lenders have taken a look around and do not like what they see. No bank wants to be stuck with a low-value repossessed car, so purse strings are tightening across the United States. Securing that next loan just became harder.

Of course, this is the last thing any automaker wants to hear.

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Borrowing Binge: Auto Loan Debt Hits a Record High

With memories of the 2008 financial meltdown still fresh, American consumers aren’t borrowing wildly anymore — except when it comes to cars and credit card purchases.

As of the end of June, car buyers racked up the highest auto loan debt in U.S. history — $1.1 trillion, according to a quarterly report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Also on the rise? Credit risk.

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QOTD: The Economics Of Ownership

$150 a week.

For some folks, this is a mere pittance. A lunch for four at a fancy restaurant that can be easily charged off to Uncle Sam and his seventeen trillion dollar debit card.

For others, it’s the beginning of a barnacle that will likely outlast their ability to pay it.

They will flex their muscles and run while they can. Then once they trip, due to a lost job or a family emergency, they will pick up an even heavier barnacle, with four wheels on it, and keep running.

It’s a vicious cycle of poverty. Where the poor always stay poor. After witnessing this cycle of automotive indebtitude for years on end, I’ve come to blame one solitary thing.

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Ford PR: "We Are Also Going to Pay Back Our Loans Unlike Other Companies"
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.
  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.