General Motors is going deep into subprime auto financing and the result could be a crisis similar to the housing crash that sank the U.S. economy in 2007, according to industry experts interviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
"High production costs and falling profit-per-car have led auto manufacturers to turn to financing to earn higher profits. Automakers have capitalized on lending by not only loaning money to customers but also packaging and selling those loans to investors in a manner similar to the sale of mortgage-backed securities that created the housing bubble," reports WFB's Bill McMorris.
The dramatic increase in securitization has coincided with GM's acquisition of AmeriCredit, one of the nation's largest subprime auto lenders, which it renamed GM Financial (GMF), McMorris said.
"It's becoming Fannie Motors," Competitive Enterprise Institute finance scholar John Berlau told McMorris, referring to the government-backed housing lender Fannie Mae. "They're still using our tax dollars to break into exotic and money-losing propositions from Chevy Volts to subprime loans, both of which could literally and figuratively blow up in their faces."
An estimated 85 percent of GMF loans are categorized as subprime. At the end of 2012, 8.5 percent of GM's car loans were in delinquency, "the highest rate since 2010 and larger than the delinquency rates at Ford, Toyota, and Honda combined," McMorris said.
"The numbers failed to provoke the calls for oversight that accompanied the collapse of the mortgage industry. President Barack Obama exempted subprime auto loans from the authority of lending watchdogs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," he said.
For more from McMorris, go here.