| WASHINGTON, July 9
WASHINGTON, July 9 U.S. consumers continued to
pay down debt in the first quarter of 2013 as household wealth
rose above its pre-recession peak, the American Bankers
Association said on Tuesday.
A composite ratio, which tracks delinquency rates for eight
loan categories, fell to 1.7 percent of all accounts from 1.99
percent the prior quarter, well below the 15-year average of
2.37 percent. Of the eight categories, only mobile home
Delinquencies on bank card payments, which are not part of
the composite, fell to 2.41 percent during the quarter, a
"Many consumers have learned the hard lessons of recession,
and have redoubled their efforts to keep debt at manageable
levels," ABA's chief economist, James Chessen, said in a
In addition, rising home and stock prices are creating a
wealth effect that gives consumers a greater ability to pay down
their debt, he said.
Property improvement and home equity loan delinquencies both
fell, while home equity lines of credit delinquencies moved
slightly higher. Home-related delinquencies remain elevated.
"While this improvement is encouraging, it will take a long
time for delinquencies to work their way through the system and
return to more normal levels," said Chessen.
The ABA also tracks late payments for bank-provided credit
cards, auto loans and other consumer loans. The bank association
defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more
The ABA does not track delinquency rates for traditional
mortgage payments, which rose in the first quarter according to
a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.