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

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1 hour ago - Sports

Pac-12 football players threaten coronavirus opt-out

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A group of Pac-12 football players have threatened to opt out of the season unless the conference addresses systemic inequities and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: College football players have never had more leverage than they do right now, as the sport tries to stage a season amid the pandemic. And their willingness to use it shows we've entered a new age in college sports.

Betting on inflation is paying off big for investors

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The specter of rising inflation is helping power assets like gold, silver and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) to strong returns with record demand this year.

The big picture: Investors continue to pack in even as inflation metrics like the consumer price index (CPI) and personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index have remained anchored.

Scoop: Top CEOs urge Congress to help small businesses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With a new coronavirus relief measure stalled in Congress, CEOs of some of the world's biggest companies have banded together to send a message to Washington: Get money to small businesses now!

Why it matters: "By Labor Day, we foresee a wave of permanent closures if the right steps are not taken soon," warns the letter, organized by Howard Schultz and signed by more than 100 CEOs.