How the financial crisis affects car haulers

First of all, the scarcity of money-- the so-called "liquidity crisis" makes deals on major equipment harder to complete. You pay more for the capital you need to purchase new trucks. It becomes harder for you to sell your truck, because the person buying your truck has the same problem. There are fewer buyers that qualify as lending guidelines grow tighter. Some banks go into panic mode, and refuse to write certain loans, no matter how good your credit is. There is less competition among lenders for your business. That's never a good thing.

Consider the rates that GE Credit is offering today in their fleet credit program: 12% to qualified buyers. Three months ago, the rate was 8%. (As reported by Andrea West, owner and finance manager of West Coast Enterprises, the nation's newest Cottrell auto transport trailer dealership.)

Secondly, there is less freight to haul, because fewer people who want new cars qualify for credit. It becomes harder to "push that 4000 lbs of steel" across the sales desk at dealerships around the country. Less new car sales equals less used car sales. Less car sales means the auction freight slows down.

Thirdly, less POV freight as people cutback their spending, and as the housing crisis makes it harder to sell homes and move.

Disaster Economics 101

As with all things, the less there is of something, the more you will have to pay for it. The less money there is available to be loaned out (liquidity) the more you're going to have to compete for it. Also-- as more and more banks have to take crappy loans back onto their balance sheet, the less money they will have available to loan out, because of capitalization requirements.

And with banks uncertain about each others' willingness and ability to repay loans to each other, more and more banks here and abroad are having to rely on the central banks for overnight requirements.

The "seizing up" of the commercial paper market is happening in parallel with this, (in a huge oversimplification) pretty much because money market funds no longer want to buy the commercial bonds offered by businesses needing to raise large sums of money for short periods of time to meet their cash requirements.

Normally, banks perceive loans made to each other to be so "safe" that the spread between what the US Treasury pays and what a major bank pays for money is measured in tenths of a percentage point.
The current spread between the 3 month Treasury bill and the LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offering Rate) is almost four percentage points. This spread provides a pretty good index of liquidity within the economic system, and lower is definitely better.

This brings us to the final point, that most self-employed car haulers are already aware of...There is just less money "out there".