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Auto loan approval ratings hit highest level since 2015

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.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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