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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ally Financial was the latest bank to declare a major profit windfall in its second quarter earnings report, as the U.S. banking industry's largest auto lender reported a profit increase of 67%.

Why it matters: Americans are borrowing record sums to buy new vehicles — and used ones — and they continue to pay relatively high interest rates. Banks are seeing big profits as a result.

The intrigue: U.S. Treasury yields have fallen to their lowest level in more than 2 years, pushing down interest rates on bonds and savings accounts. Yet, Fed data shows auto loan rates in Q2 remained well above their average over the past decade, and even higher than in the fourth quarter of 2018 when Treasury yields reached their highest since 2011.

  • The interest rates banks charge for loans are typically tied to the yield on Treasuries, as banks adjust their rates in conjunction with movement in the bond market to remain competitive for customers.
  • However, as rates in the U.S. and globally have fallen in 2019 that traditional correlation has not yet materialized.

What's happening: U.S. consumers are scaling back on new vehicle purchases and even buyers with top tier credit are opting for used instead of new, data shows, but the banks continue to squeeze big profits.

  • Ally's stock rose 6.5% to an all-time high of $33.49 a share Thursday as retail auto loans clocked $72.3 billion, up from $69.9 billion in the year-earlier period. Its average yield on retail auto loans increased to 6.58% from 6.08%.

Where it stands: Experian, which tracks millions of auto loans each month, said the average amount Americans are borrowing for a new vehicle rose to a record high of more than $32,000 last month.

  • Americans also are paying record high average monthly payments for both new and used vehicles.

"We have not seen a slowdown in loan demand. In fact, volume for new and used loans is up from previous years," Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive financial solutions for Experian, told CNBC in June.

The bottom line: Investors have worried that lower rates will hurt banks' profit margins and income. So far, that hasn't been the case.

Go deeper: Debt-ridden millennials are taking out loans to pay for weddings

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.