The changes have likely been painful for many consumers, as they have tried to cut back on spending and save more while coping at the same time with the increased difficulty and expense of getting and maintaining credit, said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Kelly Luo.
But some economists worry that the improvements seen this spring could be short-lived, as the economy has significantly weakened since then, while growth in employment has stalled. Credit card defaults, in particular, are closely tied to the rate of unemployment, which remains close to 10 percent.
Noticeably absent from the improving trend also has been the commercial real estate sector, which remains in a deep recession that has been dragging down many community banks.
“Small banks continue to have more exposure to commercial real estate, with 40 percent of their bank loans tied up in that sector,” said Mark Vitner, economist with Wells Fargo Securities. “We believe problems at this level have been consistently understated.”
While sales and leases of commercial property picked up some in the spring, the relatively good economic conditions at the time failed to prevent further rises in loan delinquencies, he said.
“The largest immediate issues with commercial real estate continue to be the overhang of commercial real estate loans coming due over the next few years and the large number of development projects that have been partially completed and continue to weigh on community bank portfolios,” he said.