Data through December 2014, released by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian for the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, a comprehensive measure of changes in consumer credit defaults, continued to show an increase in default rates. The national composite posted a default rate of 1.11% in December, up four basis points from November 2014. The first mortgage default rate rose five basis points to 1.02% in December, its largest increase since September 2013. The second mortgage default increased by 11 basis points to 0.59%. The bank card default rate also increased from its historic low in November, up six basis points to 2.65%. Only the auto loan default rate decreased, down three basis points to 1.02%.
“December was the fifth consecutive month with increasing national consumer credit default rates,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Increases also occurred in some recent months in mortgages and auto loans. While the economy is strengthening and consumer spending is gaining, wages have shown little growth. The large drop in oil prices benefits consumers’ disposable income and should limit consumers’ financial stress. Default rates remain very low but could be a cause for concern if the rising trend gains strength.
“Chicago, Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles reported default rate increases in December. Across these cities, there is a seasonal pattern with December showing larger than typical increases in default rates, probably associated with holiday shopping and delayed payments. New York reported the largest increase, up seven basis points from last month’s historic low, to 1.05%. Chicago also increased from its historical low in November, up five basis points to 1.16%, and Los Angeles increased six basis points to 0.86%. Only Miami reported a rate decrease, down 12 basis points to 1.34%. Despite the significant increases, all five cities – Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York – still remain below rates seen a year ago.”
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