How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted consumer financing?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a report examining the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on consumer lending. The report found that consumers have not experienced a significant increase in delinquency. These finding are in spite of the obvious increase in the unemployment rate throughout the country. Utilizing the Consumer Credit Panel, which is a nationally representative sample of over 5 million de-identified credit records, the report showed that delinquency rates actually declined from March 2020 thru June of 2020.
The report also highlighted that some financial institutions had reduced access to credit card debt by both closing existing accounts and by halting credit line increases for existing credit lines. However, the overall impact of these changes was viewed as small in magnitude. Account closings were generally targeted at inactive accounts or accounts with little activity over a period of time.
Credit card balances fell dramatically as the start of the pandemic, but have continued to be on the decline as the pandemic continues. This decline has been seen across all groups broken down by both credit score as well as various demographic factors.