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Monday, February 04, 2008

Credit Crunch and Credit Cards

by Calculated Risk on 2/04/2008 10:49:00 PM

Update: John Goodman at the NY Times reports on "a period of involuntary thrift".

... now the freewheeling days of credit and risk may have run their course — at least for a while and perhaps much longer — as a period of involuntary thrift unfolds in many households. With the number of jobs shrinking, housing prices falling and debt levels swelling, the same nation that pioneered the no-money-down mortgage suddenly confronts an unfamiliar imperative: more Americans must live within their means.
The WSJ reports: Credit Cards Are Playing Harder to Get
Big card issuers such as Citigroup Inc. are requiring higher credit scores before issuing new cards, particularly in states that have been hit hard by the housing downturn, including California, Arizona and Florida. Some lenders, including Bank of America Corp., are offering lower initial credit lines. Other lenders, such as Capital One Financial Corp., are limiting credit-line increases or reducing credit lines for existing customers if they see signs that they are suddenly applying for more credit or are having trouble paying down their balances. ...

Fewer applicants are being issued new cards: On average, credit-card approval rates have dropped to 32% of applicants from 40% a year ago ... This comes as issuers are doing fewer direct-mail solicitations to new customers. The number of such mailings fell about 16% ...
I don't know - my mailbox has been of full of credit card offers recently.

Credit Crunch and Credit CardsClick on graph for larger image.

This graph is from the Fed's Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices and shows the net percentage of banks tightening lending standards for credit cards and other consumer loans.

So far standards are being tightened for other consumer loans more than credit cards. And, according to the Fed, tightening for consumer loans is minimal compared to the tightening for commercial real estate (CRE).