Central Banker Trickle Leaves More Americans Riding The Bus

The mainstream media exploded with excitement last week as automakers reported their strongest sales since 2003. Was it really all that or does this silver lining have a dark cloud hovering overhead?

Here’s what the actual, not seasonally adjusted, November data looks like going back a few years.

Auto Sales- Click to enlarge

Auto Sales- Click to enlarge

We note first that November sales were the strongest that they have been since 2001, thanks in part to the subprime auto loan boom. Second, the annual growth rate has been in a declining trend since 2012. Finally, auto sales per capita grown strongly since 2010, but are below the levels of 1999 to 2005.

Have the banks and automakers squeezed the subprime auto loan lemon dry? Perhaps not. The NY Fed household credit data showed that approximately 20% of auto loans issued in the second quarter were to subprime borrowers. A decade ago this percentage was typically 25%.

Back in 2010 Ben Bernanke said that by printing money and giving it to Primary Dealers stock prices would rise which would lead to stronger economic growth that would benefit everybody. This is also known as central banker trickle theory. Bernanke was right about the first part or course. Stock prices have zoomed 35% above the 2007 highs and car sales per capita have barely exceeded the 2007 level. But apparently the dealers and bankers have been good at holding the trickle in, pooled in their own and their cronies’ accounts. Everybody else is left to drive their old junkers or ride the bus.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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