Tag Archives: auto loans

An Impending Economic And Financial Disaster


You’ve probably heard/read a lot lately about the VIX index. The VIX index is a measure of the implied volatility of S&P 500 index options. The VIX is popularly known as a market “fear” index. The concept underlying the VIX is that it measures the theoretical expected annualized change in the S&P 500 over the next year. It’s measured in percentage terms. A VIX reading of 10 would imply an expectation that the S&P 500 could move up or down 10% or less over the next year with a 68% degree of probability. The calculation for the VIX is complicated but it basically “extracts” the implied volatility from all out of the money current-month and next month put and call options on the SPX.

The graph above plots the S&P 500 (candles) vs. the VIX (blue line) on a monthly basis going back to 2001. As you can see, the last time the VIX trended sideways around the 11 level was from 2005 to early 2007. On Monday (May 8) the VIX traded below 10. The last time it closed below 10 was February 2007. The VIX often functions as a contrarian indicator. As for the predictive value of a low VIX reading, there is a high correlation between an extremely low VIX level and large market declines. However, the VIX does not give us any information about the timing of a big sell-off other than indicate that one will likely (not definitely) occur.

In my opinion, an extremely low VIX level, like the current one, is signaling an eventual sell-off that I believe will be quite extreme.

The true fundamentals underlying the U.S. economy – as opposed the “fake news” propaganda that emanates from uncovered manholes at the Fed, Wall Street and Capitol Hill – are beginning to slide rapidly.   The primary reason for this is that the illusion of wealth creation was facilitated by the inflation of a massive systemic debt and derivatives bubble.  Government and corporate debt is at all-time highs.  The rate of debt issuance by these two entities accelerated in 2010.  Household debt not including mortgages is at an all-time high.  Total household debt including mortgages was near an all-time high as of the latest quarter (Q4 2016) for which the all-inclusive data is available.  I would be shocked if total household was not at an all-time high as I write this.

The fall-out from this record level of U.S. systemic debt is beginning to hit and it will accelerate in 2017.  In 2016 corporate bankruptcies were up 25% from from 2015.   So far in 2017, 10 big retailers have filed for bankruptcy, with a couple of them completely shutting down and liquidating.    Currently there’s at least 9 more large retailers expected to file this year.   In addition to big corporate bankruptcies, the State of Connecticut is said to be preparing a bankruptcy filing.

The household debt statistics show a consumer that is buried in debt and will likely begin to default on this debt – credit card, auto, personal, student loan and mortgage – at an accelerated rate this year.  The delinquency and charge-off statistics from credit card and auto finance companies are already confirming this supposition.

In the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, I review the VIX and the deteriorating consumer debt statistics in detail and explain why the brewing financial crisis will be much worse than the one that hit in 2008.  I also present a finance company stock and a housing-related stock as ways to take advantage of the crumbling consumer.   You can find out more about subscribing to the Short Seller’s Journal here:  Subscription information.   There’s no monthly minimum require and subscribers have an opportunity to subscribe to my Mining Stock Journal for half-price.

I look forward to any and every SSJ. Especially at the moment as I really do think your work and thesis on how this plays out is being more than validated at the moment with the ongoing dismal data coming out, both here in the U.K. and in the U.S.  – U.K. subscriber, James

 

Auto Sales: The Fake Economic News Bubble

The headlines are reporting that auto sales in December hit a record, when looked at on a “seasonally adjusted annualized rate” basis.  No one questions the validity of the seasonal adjustments.   The average news consumer sees or hears the headline word-byte/soundbyte and that becomes the truth.   Fake economic news is another form of Establishment propaganda:   seduce the populace into believing what you want them to believe rather than presenting the truth.  It’s Jim Sinclair’s “MOPE:”  Management of Perception Economics.”

Along with the geopolitical and domestic political fake news epidemic is an epidemic in economic fake news.  Collectively it’s a “fake news bubble,”  with one of the highly insidious consequences of this bubble being the messy abortion otherwise known as the “Presidential election.”

Turning to the auto sales fake news, based on the SAAR estimates, automobile sales allegedly hit a selling rate of 18.2 million units in December.  But seasonal adjustments notwithstanding the facts, does the data fit the facts of the related areas of consumer spending?   By this I mean restaurant and retail sales.

Though not reported yet for December, restaurant same store sales declined 1.3% in November from October and dropped 3.3% from November 2015.  It was the ninth consecutive month of negative same-store sales and the worst decline since July.  Perhaps with constrained disposable income, consumers cut out restaurants to buy holiday gifts?

Looking at what we know about retail sales during the holiday period so far, First Data reported that holiday spending is up 2% vs. last year (through Dec 12).  Last year that number was 2.4%.  So there’s a deceleration in retails sales growth spending.   Cowen research reported that foot traffic at malls was down 10% in December through December 17th.  Granted online sales growth of 9% this holiday season is taking some mall spending away, but online spending represents only 8% of total retail sales spending.  I guess maybe consumers cut back on holiday gifts this year to spend $40,000 (average cost of a new GM car according the auto sales report) on a new car?

Finally, I cover two companies that provide subprime auto loans.  Both companies were reporting declining loan application volume in their last financial reports.  Interest rates spiked up 100 basis points during November and December, which means the cost of auto loans spiked up as well.   Even though auto lenders are reporting lowered loan application volumes, we’re to assume that – despite significantly higher interest rates – consumers decided to skip eating out and buying holiday gifts in order to buy a new car during December?

Does any of this make sense?  To make matters less believable and uglier, GM reported that its unsold inventory of cars sitting on dealer lots exploded to 844,942 cars in December, a nearly quarter of a million unit increase over December 2015.  Call me skeptical but I would suggest that a large portion of those cars sitting in dealer lots were counted as sales when the cars left the factory floor.

The likely source of “record” auto sales is in the “seasonal adjustments” that are applied to the data. Moreover, I would suggest that the data itself is suspect.  I would like to see a study that correlates a “sale” with the actual transfer of title to either an auto finance company or to a buyer who paid cash – i.e. tie a “sale” to an actual end-user taking delivery and driving off the lot.  THAT number, based on all of the related supporting evidence as detailed above, is likely a much different (lower) number than what was reported.