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Consumer Credit Default Picture Looks Brighter

Default Notice BHThe national credit picture took an upturn in May, as mortgage and consumer credit default rates ebbed from April numbers, according to the latest S&P Dow Jones/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices [1].

Tuesday’s indices [2] reported that, nationally, first mortgage defaults dropped six points to 0.63 percent in May, led by improved default rates in New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. New York recorded a default rate of 0.89 percent, down 12 points for the month; Dallas reported a default rate of 0.69 percent, down seven basis points from April; Chicago’s default rate decreased five basis points from the prior month, to 0.98 percent; and Los Angeles reported a default rate of 0.67 percent, down four basis points for May.

Miami was the only major metro in the study to post a default rate increase, which came in at 1.27 percent. That’s a six-point increase, and it marks the third consecutive month Miami’s default rate grew.

Overall consumer credit defaults nationwide were much improved in May, dropping five points to a composite rate of 0.81 percent. It remains well below rates seen before the recession.

S and P graph

However, since the beginning of this year, the default rate on bank cards has risen from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent, and is up in the last three months, just as the default rates on the other sectors are down.

“The current level of bank card defaults is quite low,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However the upward trend stands out compared to the other data series.”

Still, Blitzer said, the overall consumer credit picture is very good.

“Positive developments are supported by continued gains in the economy: an unemployment rate under 5 percent, combined with increases in incomes and wages and stable prices,” he said.

Click here [1] to view the completed report.