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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals

More people buying new cars with trade-ins have negative equity than in previous years, the Wall Street Journal reports, and those borrowers already carry more car debt before taking on new, steeper loans.

Why it matters, per the WSJ: "Consumers, salespeople and lenders are treating cars a lot like houses during the last financial crisis: by piling on debt to such a degree that it often exceeds the car’s value."

What's happening: Consumers and their lawyers tell the WSJ that new vehicle trade-ins are necessary for changing needs, car malfunctions or life circumstances, like growing families.

  • Negative equity, higher interest rates and monthly payments, and longer loan terms are trapping consumers in "a cycle in which each new trade-in leaves them deeper underwater," per the WSJ — and easy lending standards are fueling the cycle.
  • "Rising car prices have exacerbated an affordability gap that is increasingly getting filled with auto debt," the WSJ reports.

The big picture: In February, the number of Americans with auto loans 90 days past due shot to a new record high — 7 million — yet, auto lenders have been issuing more and more loans in recent years.

Go deeper: Car loans mean banks don't need high interest rates to rake in cash

Go deeper

The elusive political power of Mexican Americans

Data: Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Mexican Americans make up the nation's largest Latino group, yet they remain politically outshined by more recently arrived Cuban Americans.

Why it matters: The disparities in political power between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans reflect the racial, historical, geographical and economic differences within Latino cultures in the U.S.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
47 mins ago - Health

The barriers to vaccine passports

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccine passports could become available soon to help people resume their livesbut they face numerous scientific, social and political barriers to being accepted.

The big picture: Reliable and accessible proof of vaccine-induced protection from the novel coronavirus could speed international travel and economic reopening, but obstacles to its wide-scale adoption are so great it may never fully arrive.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate continued to work through votes on a series of amendments overnight into early Saturday morning.