Consumer credit delinquencies in the fourth quarter of 2007 reached their highest levels since 1992, according to the American Bankers Association’s Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin. The composite ratio, which tracks eight closed-end installment loan categories, rose 21 basis points to 2.65 percent of all accounts in the fourth quarter on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
All eight major loan categories tracked by the banking association -- including home equity loans, property improvement loans, indirect and direct auto loans, personal loans, mobile home loans, marine loans, and rec vehicle loans -- experienced increased delinquencies during the fourth quarter, something the ABA said was "a rare occurrence."
James Chessen, ABA chief economist, attributed the rise largely to auto loan delinquencies. The auto loan category comprises about two-thirds of all closed-end consumer installment loans. In addition, the number of delinquent bank card accounts rose 20 basis points to 4.38 percent, but remains close to the five-year average of 4.40 percent.
“The rise in consumer credit delinquencies is consistent with a rapidly slowing economy,” Chessen said. “Stress in the housing market still dominates the story but it’s a broader tale of an overall weak economy.”
The weak housing market continues to be reflected in rising delinquency rates for home equity loans and lines of credit,the ABA said. Delinquencies for home equity lines of credit –- the lowest delinquency rate category –- rose 12 basis points to 0.96 percent during the fourth quarter. That is the highest delinquency rate for the category since at least 1997.
Home equity loans also saw delinquencies increase to 2.39 percent, a rise of 11 basis points on a linked-quarter basis.
Chessen predicted that delinquencies will continue to rise during the first half of 2008.
“No relief for consumers is in sight as food and gas prices remain stubbornly high and income growth is anemic,” he predicted.
For more information, visit http://www.aba.com