The FT are reporting a 20% rise in credit cards delinquencies across major U.S. banks in 2016, compared to 2017 (see here: https://www.ft.com/content/bafdd504-fd2c-11e7-a492-2c9be7f3120a). Which sounds bad. Although, of course, neither new nor completely up-to-date. That is because the NY Fed give us the same figures (for all U.S. households) through 3Q 2017.
So here is the analysis of the Fed figures:
- Credit Card delinquencies rose to 6.33% of total balances in 3Q 2017, up from 5.15% a year ago and from 5.45% in 3Q 2015. So, in fact, instead of a 20% jump, y./y for 3Q figures, there was a drop in 2016 compared to 2015, but a big jump in 2017 on 2016.
- One can expect a more significant jump in 2-3Q 2018, as new credit issuance glut of 4Q 2017 works its way into defaults (see link here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2018/01/19118-tears-over-qe-us-household-debt.html).
- Besides this, as noted here http://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2018/01/19118-tears-over-qe-us-household-debt.html, credit card debt is rising and rising fast, with overall debt levels now 4.8% ahead of 2005-2007 average.
Despite these worrying dynamics, the levels of delinquencies are still low. In 2007-2008, credit card delinquencies rates were around 9.34% and 10.84%, respectively. In 2006, these were 8.54%. In fact, current running average for 1Q-03Q 2017 is 6.14% or lower than for any year between 2003 and 2012.
As the chart below shows, the real crisis is currently unfolding not in the credit cards debt, but in Student Loans with 10.05% average delinquency rate for 2017 so far. Credit crds delinquencies are only fourth in terms of severity.
In terms of total volumes of debt in delinquency, 3Q 2017 data shows credit cards with USD12.3 billion, against mortgages at USD88.56 billion, student loans at USD 30.16 billion and auto loans at USD 17.05 billion.
Even in terms of transition from shorter-term delinquency (30 days-89 days) to longer-term delinquency (90days and over), credit cards are not as prominent of a problem as student loans:
In summary, thus, the real crisis in the U.S. household debt is not (yet) in credit cards or revolving loans, and not even (yet) in mortgages. It is in student debt, followed by auto loans.