I got a call yesterday from Jennifer Napier-Pearce, who's now covering the personal finance beat at the SL Trib. (Raise your hand if you still miss her voice on KUER.) Anyway, there's a Pew study about how debt levels among the young have fallen (mostly) since 2007. Housing, auto, and credit card debt all down; student loan debt up. Here's a link to the story, with ample economist commentary.
Part of the reduction in debt is coming from changes in the mortgage market. But there are also some interesting things going on in markets for automobiles. Here's a quote from the Pew Study:
In 2007, 73% of households headed by an adult younger than 25 owned or leased at least one vehicle. By 2011, 66% of these young households had a vehicle. Among households younger than 35, outstanding vehicle debt declined from 2007 to 2010. In 2007, 44% of households younger than 35 had vehicle debt. By 2010, only 32% had vehicle debt. The typical outstanding amounts owed among young households with vehicle debt fell from $13,000 in 2007 to $10,000 in 2010.Part of this is coming from changing attitudes toward debt, but there are also simply fewer new cars out there. There was an article in the WSJ on Wednesday about how the low auto-industry production levels between 2009 and 2011 are impacting the used car market:
The shortage of used cars stems from the deep plunge in new-car sales between 2008 and 2010, and the virtual disappearance of new-car leases during the financial crisis. As a result, three-year-old cars are now hard to find and even older models are holding their value.
These effects will probably continue to ripple through auto-related markets; how do you think, for example, that the relative lack of 2009-2011 autos will impact revenues for auto repair shops (who probably prefer customers with older rather than newer cars...)?