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Credit-Fueled U.S. Car Sales May Need Help From Incomes

Bloomberg - Nov 13, 2012

A rebound in U.S. auto sales has been buoyed by the return of easy lending, even to borrowers with flawed credit histories. Some economists question whether the gains can be sustained without a boost in hiring.

Auto loans were up 5.5 percent in the second quarter from the same time last year, with riskier buyers accounting for 43.9 percent of the total, up from 42 percent in 2008, according to Experian Plc. (EXPN) By contrast, hourly wages for non-managers climbed 1.1 percent on average over the past 12 months, the least since records began in 1965, Labor Department figures show.

The financing spigot opened as Federal Reserve efforts to keep interest rates low prompted investors to pour money into securities backed by subprime car loans in search of higher returns, giving the auto industry and the economic expansion a lift. That may no longer be enough to fuel purchases as wages are held back by a pool of 12.3 million unemployed Americans.

“If you want to take it to another level of sales, you want to see more of the fundamental drivers of consumption improve more materially, things like income and employment,” said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York, the bank with the third-best forecasts for consumer spending, according to Bloomberg calculations. “With credit flowing again to subprime, you’ve had the wherewithal to bridge that gap to execute on pent-up demand. That takes you only so far.”

Read Full Article from Bloomberg

- Posted: 2012-11-13 15:15:25


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