Two of President Donald Trump’s nominees to oversee banks on Thursday flagged student and auto loans as the biggest risks to the financial system.
Joseph Otting, the nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Randal Quarles, Trump’s pick to be the vice chairman for supervision at the Federal Reserve, testified before the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, pressed the pair on what they fear was the most likely to ruin the economy the way housing did during the Great Recession.
“Is there anything on the horizon you look at and say, ‘this could be a problem,’” Donnelly said.
“I think student loans are an issue, if you really look at it from an underwriting perspective,” said Otting. “I think the auto loan market got a little overcooked. I think it’s pulled back a little bit now where terms were getting aggressive, loans to value were getting aggressive.”
“I would agree with both of those points,” added Quarles, who added that complexity was another area of concern.
According to the New York Fed, student debt reached $1.34 trillion at the end of the first quarter, and auto debt was $1.17 trillion, and both types of debt have surged in recent years.
Of all household debt, student loans have by far the highest seriously delinquent rate at 11%. That actually understates problems because about half of these loans are currently in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance and therefore temporarily not in the repayment cycle.
Quarles also testified that he wanted more transparency around the stress tests the Fed performs on big banks each year.