Despite the much ballyhooed "strong jobs" economy, things are not what they seem upon closer inspection.
The share of private-label credit cards with accounts at least 60 days delinquent is 4.65%, up from 4.08% in March 2017, Equifax said Wednesday. That’s the highest since early 2011, the credit reporting agency said.
Some banks have expanded their lending to subprime borrowers as the economy has improved, says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com.
Private-label credit card interest rates are higher than credit cards generally. They have been rising as the Federal Reserve has boosted short-term rates since late 2015, increasing the payment burden on those subprime borrowers. The rate for private-label cards is about 25.5%, up from 24.99% six months ago, according to CreditCards.com. The average rate for all credit cards is 16.73%, up from 16.15%.
Who Can Afford 25% Rates?
Who can afford 25% interest rates with balances rolling over every month?
The answer, of course, is no one.
This leads up to what I will label the logical non-solution.
Equity pulled from homes to finance consumer spending and property improvements and pay off other debts rose in the first quarter to the highest in almost a decade, according to Federal Housing Finance Agency data.
Let the good times roll baby!
The logical non-solution works only so long as home prices keep rising, employment stays elevated, and credit keeps expanding.
I suspect the party is about over.
For further discussion, please see my prior report Housing ATM is Back (But it won't work any better this time).
Mike "Mish" Shedlock