Consumer credit default rates decreased in September 2015, with the composite rate ranking at 0.89 percent, down seven basis points from the previous month, according to data released by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian. The bank card default rate was 2.77 percent for September, up six basis points from August. The auto loan default rate was up two basis points to 0.92 percent. The first mortgage and second mortgage default rates both reported decreases in September at 0.76 percent and at 0.47 percent, down eight and 10 basis points from the previous month, respectively.
Four of the five major cities saw their default rates decrease in the month of September. Dallas was the only city unchanged from last month at 0.71 percent. Miami had the largest decrease, reporting 1.07 percent, down 39 basis points from August. New York saw its default rate decrease by 14 basis points to 0.90 percent in September, and Chicago reported a decrease at 1.09 percent, down 12 basis points from the previous month. Los Angeles reported a default rate of 0.74 percent, down two basis points for the month.
“Default rates on consumer credit and mortgage borrowing are fairly stable and close to the lowest levels seen in the last 10 years,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Debt services ratios – the proportion of income going to paying down consumer credit and mortgage debt – are close to the lowest on record since the Fed began collecting the data in 1980. At the same time, consumer credit and mortgage debt outstanding are rising. Consumer credit in August rose at a 5.2 percent annual rate; mortgages as of the second quarter were up 2.1 percent over the last four quarters. While continued low interest rates are certainly a positive factor, the possible rate increase by the Federal Reserve is not likely to alter the picture significantly.
“Increases in spending and rising home sales are contributing to the growth in credit outstanding. Personal consumption expenditures in real (inflation adjusted) terms have been rising at a 3 percent annual rate since late spring and don’t show signs of a major decline. Sales of both new and existing homes are showing good numbers with the combined annual rate close to six million homes. Consumer confidence lagged during the summer but took a jump in the latest report from the University of Michigan Survey Research Center. Low inflation and low interest rates were cited as strong positive factors in consumers’ expectations and rising buying plans. Two possible clouds on the horizon are the slower job gains seen in the last two monthly employment reports and the timing of an interest rate move by the Fed. While job gains were softer recently, weekly initial unemployment claims remain at very low levels. As to the Fed’s timing, it is anyone’s guess.”
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