The Fed’s Impact on Auto Lending

2022 has kicked off with some very mixed signals. While corporate earnings and retail auto sales closed out the 2021 fiscal year with strong numbers, the stock market has been on a roller coaster ride, and labor and supply chain issues continue to stifle growth. Adding to the confounding picture is the rate of inflation. At its current rate – 7.04 percent – most economists and investors do not expect inflation to return to anything like the double-digit levels that prevailed in the early 1980s. However, the rate of inflation and the contributing indices will still have an impact on auto lending in 2022.

Let’s look a little deeper into the details. The U.S. economy grew 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter, a 6.9 percent annual rate and its largest one-year jump since 1984. While impressive, the expansion reflects the depth of the damage inflicted by the pandemic in 2020/2021.

From a consumer standpoint, the rate of inflation is reflected in both the consumer price index and the personal consumption expenditure index — each climbed to a 39-year high last year. The cost of goods and consumers’ consumption of those goods has a direct correlation with inflation and purchasing power. To put it simply, you would have to spend 7.04 percent more money in 2022 than in 2021 for the same item.