The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says credit card delinquencies rose in 2023, indicating “financial stress.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says credit card delinquencies rose in 2023, indicating “financial stress.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that with total debt of $1.13 trillion, credit card debt that had moved into serious delinquency was 6.4% in the fourth quarter, up 59% from just over 4% at the end of 2022. Fed researchers said The New York Federal Reserve said the quarterly increase was at an annual pace of about 8.5%.

Delinquencies also rose in mortgages, auto loans and the “other” category. Student loan delinquencies declined, as did home equity lines of credit. Overall, 1.42% of debt was 90 days or more past due, up from just over 1% at the end of 2022.

“Credit card and auto loan transitions into delinquency are still rising above pre-pandemic levels,” said Wilbert van der Klaus, an economic research adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “This indicates increasing financial pressures, especially among younger and lower-income families.”

While delinquency levels are rising, New York Fed researchers said total debt is moving higher in line with the pace that prevailed before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Household debt rose by $212 billion in the quarter, up 1.2% quarter-on-quarter and about 3.6% from a year ago. However, credit card debt jumped 14.5% compared to the same period in 2022. Auto debt increased to $1.61 trillion, up $12 billion quarter-on-quarter and $55 billion year-over-year, or 3.5%.

Borrowers have been hurt by rising interest rates. In a tightening cycle that extended from March 2022 to July 2023, the Fed raised its short-term borrowing rate by 5.25 percentage points, raising the federal funds rate to its highest level in about 23 years. The standard rate feeds most adjustable-rate consumer debt products.

Since the central bank began its tightening cycle, the typical interest rate on credit cards has jumped from about 14.5% to 21.5%, according to Federal Reserve data. Credit card debt as a share of income remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Researchers at the Federal Reserve said that rising interest rates may have played a role in delinquency rates. In the case of cars, for example, they said payments changed little even as prices fell, due to the high price structure.

Student loan debt, an area of ​​concern to lawmakers in Washington, has increased slightly over the course of the pandemic, currently totaling just over $1.6 trillion. This was little change from the third quarter and was up just 0.4% from a year ago. President Joe Biden has forgiven about $136.6 billion in student loan debt since taking office. The share of debt in serious delinquency fell to 0.8%.

Mortgage debt rose 2.8% in 2023, while the delinquency rate rose to 0.82%, up a quarter of a percentage point from the previous year.

(tags for translation)Breaking News: Economy

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