Easy Credit Gives Way to High Consumer Debt and Defaults

A growing number of Americans are buckling under the weight of debt that started among homeowners with subprime mortgages last year and has spread to other consumers who rely on credit, according to the Washington Post.

Auto loan borrowers are having an especially hard time as the number of people more than 60 days late on their car payments has spiked to a 10-year high, according to Fitch Ratings. The number of repossessions soared last year by 10 percent, and it is expected to rise by the same amount this year, said Thomas Webb, chief economist for Manheim, a global car auction firm.

Similar problems are brewing for credit card holders, as card balances written off as uncollectible have jumped 24 percent and late payments are up 16 percent from a year ago. According to Moody’s latest report, cardholders are paying back less of their debt. In November, they paid back, on average, 17.9 percent of their credit card debts — about 3 percent lower than the previous November rate of 18.5 percent.

The report also revealed that the number of people more than 30 days late on their credit card payments in November rose from 3.89 percent a year ago, to 4.28 percent, the highest it’s been since March 2005. It was the fifth consecutive month-to-month increase.