Data through March 2014 by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian for the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices showed a decline in national default rates during the month of March. In March, all five national indices showed a drop-off for the second consecutive month. The national composite recorded its lowest post-recession rate; it posted 1.20 percent in March, the lowest rate since July 2006. The first mortgage default rate was 1.13 percent in March, its lowest level since September 2006. The second mortgage posted 0.60 percent in March, down from 0.69 percent in February. Both the auto loan and bank card recorded new historic lows in March 2014; the auto loan default rate was 0.99 percent and the bank card rate was 2.73 percent.
“Along with signs that the economy is improving, consumer credit default rates continue to gradually decline," said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices. Across all categories, default rates improved as the auto loan and bank card sectors reached historic lows. Economic reports confirm these improving trends. Gains were made in consumer confidence and the labor market as a result of fewer applicants filing for unemployment benefits.
Retail sales also increased in March with online spending leading the way ahead of the upcoming holiday. Increasing jobs and growing income if upheld will provide a major boost to consumer spending. Consumer default rates have stabilized at levels similar to those seen before the financial crisis.
“Possible areas of concern are reports of increases lending for car purchases to less credit worthy borrowers as well as the continued rise in student loans. All five of the cities saw default rate decreases. Los Angeles continued its downwards trend, recording 1.04 percent, the lowest default rate seen since July 2006. Dallas recorded the largest downturn; it posted 0.97 percent in March, 19 basis points lower than last month’s level," said Blitzer. "Miami experienced the largest decrease year-over-year; it posted 2.07 percent in March 2014, down 86 basis points from the 2.93 percent rate in March 2013. Miami continues to maintain the highest default rate while Dallas has the lowest. All five cities – Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York—remain below default rates they posted a year ago, in March 2013.”