Haven't you always wanted to know how much the citizens of the USA owed in auto loan debts in 1978? Well today's your lucky day! The answer is approximately $83.5 billion. Can't get enough of historical debt figures? Well then read on!
I got the data off the Federal Reserve site : Consumer Credit - G.19 - memo - historical data
The inflation data is from the BLS CPI. To make it a little simpler I just pulled out data for January of each year. I assume that there aren't any major changes month to month really and if so they're likely seasonal in nature.
Here's the graphic :
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Our auto loan debt has gone up pretty steadily over the past 70 years. Even when adjusted for inflation the values have climbed pretty quickly.
In hindsight it seems pretty clear that the "Great Auto Loan Bubble"burst in 2005. I mean just look at that red line up there! pop! I'm glad we all made it through that one.
I think its also always good to look at large financial figures like this as they relate to GDP. So I got the US historical GDP figures from the BEA and plotted auto loan as % of GDP below.
There the change is less drastic as we bought more cars as our economy grew. But still auto loan balances grew over the decades. In the 1950's we were around 3% and then it peaked in now we're just at 4.9%.