The credit card crisis that has cost U.S. banks billions of dollars in losses continues to spreads across the Atlantic, causing lenders in Europe to brace against a rising wave of consumer debt defaults.
The International Monetary Fund — which estimates that about 14 percent of U.S consumer debt will head south — expects that 7 per cent of the $2,467 billion of consumer debt in Europe will also be lost, the Financial Times reports.
Much of that debt will be in the UK, the biggest nation of credit card borrowers on the other side of the pond.
A falling housing market and more stringent lending requirements by banks has stopped strapped homeowners from withdrawing equity from their homes to pay off other debts, such as credit cards or unsecured loans.
Given that the UK tend to trail U.S. trends by about six months, analysts will be watching earnings reports closely for signs that securitized credit card debt is rising.
Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Pierce wrote in a recent note that UK credit card securitization had suffered “a very sharp rise in arrears to a level well beyond the previous peak seen in 2006.”
Author Charles Geisst, who has investigated American credit consumption, says the United States is far from out of the woods on credit card defaults. Americans have on average 13 cards and we as a national now carry $1 trillion in balances.
“As far as resolving the crisis, I think the credit card crisis is still looming. It will take a few years before people are completely stretched,” he told Newsweek.
“Unemployment is the straw that will break the camel's back. The default rates already are twice what they used to be. I think it'll get worse.”
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