What is it with all the borrowing these days – credit card debt, low down payment mortgages, car loans and leases, college tuition loans, and the revival of the $100,000 five-minute loan? It’s like the American Consumer is addicted to easy money. Now with interest rates at historic lows, and the FED considering negative interest rates like the EU and Japan there are investment groups taking advantage of those and then lending money here. It seems like every day I read about more offers for easy consumer credit, get some credit card offer in the mail, or am enticed by some marketing company or corporation to buy something on credit. Let’s talk.
You see, there were two troubling articles in the Wall Street Journal recently; “Subprime Auto Loans Flash Signs of Trouble,” by Serena Ng, published on March 14, 2016. Unfortunately that first article was buried in the paper, only one column and hardly noticed. The other article did make the front page of Section II, it was titled; “The Five-Minute, $100,000 Loan,” by Ruth Simon and this article discussed how shrinking application times is good for small business – but five-minutes? Hmm? How is that good for Small Companies?
We have well over a trillion dollars in student loans, much of which is in the rears over 90-days, and we have challenges with subprime auto-loans, and our real estate prices are rather toppy, and thank god we are in an election year, but what happens after that? When it comes to tuition loans 40% are in borderline default status, even if those loans are not easily discharged. On the Subprime Auto Loans, 12.5% are over 30-days in the rears.
Easy money and low interest rates seem to have consequences. We have businesses large and small borrowing, consumers borrowing, and our government borrowing – no one is saving, and to keep all this going what are most Central Banks doing?
More stimulus, ouch, and exactly how, here in the USA, are college students going to continue to borrow for tuition if those loans are continually in default, whose paying for that? If car loans collapse, auto makers cannot sell cars and that means layoffs, meaning more loans default. We seem to be running redline in debt, and I do not see a way out of this without growth, but if all the growth is fake, stimulated growth from easy money, then at some point the whole thing collapses, and it doesn’t take a rocket-scientist, or economist to see that.