Consumers Demonstrate Less Need for Debt Relief Services

TransUnion just release new data which shows their Credit Risk Index (CRI) continues to decline. The CRI is a forecast tool that shows the likely chances of a consumer not being able to repay their debt.

For the first quarter of 2011, the CRI came in at 123.56 – approximately 5 percent lower than the index high of 129.67 (Q4 2009) and 1.6 percent lower when compared to last quarter (125.61). The quarter-over-quarter decline was the largest since the third quarter of 2008.

Consumer demand for credit, as measured by TransUnion’s Total Inquiry Index (TII), also decreased in the first quarter to 64.41. The higher the TII number, the greater demand is for credit by consumers. Using 2000 as the base year of the index, demand for credit remains historically low. However, the quarterly decline in the index (2.2 percent) was the slowest decline since the first quarter of 2008, possibly indicating a deceleration or leveling off of its trajectory.

“The broad and steady decline in the Credit Risk Index, coupled with a moderate decrease in the demand for credit over the previous year suggests that consumers continue to live within their means, tending to acquire new credit only for larger, specific purchases,” said Chet Wiermanski, global chief scientist at TransUnion. “The percentage of consumers delinquent on any credit account has returned to the level immediately preceding the Great Recession, which is the primary reason for the decline in the Credit Risk Index. During this period, consumers have fundamentally changed the composition of their personal credit portfolio.

“In less than four years, the percentage of consumers with at least one general purpose bank issued credit card has dropped from its peak of nearly 75 percent to just below 66 percent, a level not seen since early 1998, with all indicators pointing to lower levels in the quarters to come. Conversely, the use of installment loans from banks, credit unions and finance companies, which historically exhibit lower level of delinquency, has remained relatively stable for nearly 20 years. The shift toward more responsible use of credit, coupled with an anticipated improvement within the economic front, e.g. employment, personal savings rates and consumer sentiment, should drive the Credit Risk Index lower for the next several quarters,” added Wiermanski. – Source

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