As the overall default reading recorded its lowest point dating back a decade, the auto loan segment of the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices made another move away from the 1-percent level in May, dipping 5 basis points below the previous month’s reading.
According to data through May and released on Tuesday by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian, analysts indicated the auto loan default rate came in at 0.92 percent, the lowest mark since last September.
A year ago, the auto default reading stood at 0.86 percent.
The May composite rate, a comprehensive measure of changes in consumer credit defaults, also ticked 5 basis points lower on a sequential comparison, settling at 0.81 percent. Historical data going back 10 years that S&P and Experian share with this regular update showed how the composite level peaked in May 2009 at 5.51 percent — the climax of a steady climb that began 26 months earlier.
Now the composite rate has been below 1 percent for more than a year.
“Overall the consumers’ credit picture is very good,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“Consumer credit default rates continue at the lowest levels in more than 10 years and well below those seen before the financial crisis,” Blitzer continued. “These 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.
“Debt service ratios remain close to record lows, while outstanding consumer credit and mortgage debt have risen modestly this year,” he went on to sy.
One segment of the economy that’s been watched by industry observers for much of the year has been activity associated with energy-producing areas, especially Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. During a recent webinar hosted by the Consumer Bankers Association, Moody’s Analytics senior director Cristian deRitis explained how finance providers of all types, not just in the vehicle space, can watch for pockets of performance deterioration even when the overall readings might be strong like they appear to be now.
After reiterating that collection of eight states, deRitis reiterated, “Obviously what all these states have in common is they are economies that are heavily dependent upon the oil extraction industry. Given the low price of oil that has benefitted consumers overall, it has certainly taken a toll on individuals in many of these oil patch states.
“That’s certainly some cause for concern and one of the reasons why we do a lot of analysis looking at these geographic segments, not so much to begin to suggest that subprime lending itself is the cause for higher delinquency,” he continued. “But it does introduce some risk into some portfolios.
“If you have a portfolio that's heavily exposed to the Northeast for example, you might want to keep an eye on what’s going on in Europe and how that might impact some of the export-related activities within the Northeast corridor,” deRitis went on to say. “Or on the West Coast, if you’re looking at a concentrated portfolio in California or other parts of the West, a scenario where Asia is impacted might be one to consider just like the oil price scenario has impacted some of these oil-impacted economies.”
Whether it’s in Bangor, Maine or Barstow, Calif., S&P and Experian noticed first mortgage defaults dropped by 6 basis points in May as compared to the prior month, coming in at 0.63 percent. Blitzer acknowledged bank card activity is a bit of a concern as the default rate ticked up another 2 basis points in May to 3.11 percent.
“One area worth following is the default rate on bank cards,” Blitzer said. “Between December 2015 and May 2016, the default rate on bank cards rose from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent. It is up in the last three months, while the default rates on the other sectors followed here are down.
“The current level of bank card defaults is quite low. However the upward trend stands out compared to the other data series,” he added.
Tracking the major metropolitan areas S&P and Experian highlight in this report, four of the five major cities saw their overall default rates decrease during the month of May.
New York recorded a default rate of 0.89 percent, down 12 basis points for the month.
Dallas reported a default rate of 0.69 percent, down 7 basis points from April.
Chicago’s default rate decreased 5 basis points from the prior month, posting a default rate of 0.98 percent.
Los Angeles posted a default rate of 0.67 percent, down 4 basis points for May.
Meanwhile, Miami's default rate increased for the third consecutive month, up 6 basis points for a default rate of 1.27 percent.
Jointly developed by S&P Indices and Experian, analysts reiterated the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices are published monthly with the intent to accurately track the default experience of consumer balances in four key loan categories: auto, bank card, first mortgage lien and second mortgage lien.
The indices are calculated based on data extracted from Experian’s consumer credit database. This database is populated with individual consumer loan and payment data submitted by lenders to Experian every month.
Experian’s base of data contributors includes leading banks and mortgage companies and covers approximately $11 trillion in outstanding loans sourced from 11,500 lenders.