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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It hasn’t been this easy to get a car loan in years.

Why it matters: It comes amid a demand bonanza that got underway at the onset of the pandemic — when traveling by car became the more appealing mode of transportation.

Car loan approval ratings are at the highest since 2015, according to Cox Automotive.

  • What's happening: Auto loans are getting cheaper and lengthier, two factors that lower monthly payments — what "most consumers are focusing on, more than anything else," says Cox Automotive economist Jonathan Smoke.
  • "Consumers have been consistently seeing better rates every month this year than a year ago — that's really helped offset some of the inflation in vehicle prices," Smoke says.

The big picture: The net percentage of banks making loans harder to get is at the lowest level since 2012 — a sign that lenders are keeping borrowing conditions loose, if not making them looser.

  • It's a sharp reversal from last year, when it looked like the economy was on the precipice of disaster.
  • Meanwhile, the net share of banks reporting stronger demand for auto loans hit a new pandemic-era high (also the highest in nine years).

But, but, but: "Banks aren't just giving loans to anyone," says Jesse Rosenthal, an analyst at CreditSights.

  • Around a third of auto loan originations are going to people with credit scores above 760 — higher than it was trending previously, Rosenthal says.

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

3 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.