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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Americans celebrate economic recovery with debt — lots of debt

Yahoo Finance

Shopping in downtown St. Pete.
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Shopping in downtown St. Pete.
Two new reports highlight the dual financial personalities of American consumers today — one half savvy saver, the other half recovering debt-aholic.

In the last quarter of 2013, consumer debt soared by $241 billion, the sharpest quarter-to-quarter spike since 2007, according to the New York Fed’s recent household credit report.

Americans added $152 billion worth of mortgage debt loads in the fourth quarter of 2013 alone, followed by $53 billion in student loan debt, $18 billion in auto loans, and $11 billion in regular credit card debt.

About 332,000 consumers had a bankruptcy notation added to their credit reports in Q4 2013, about the same number as Q4 2012, according to the report.

Student loan debt continues to burden borrowers both young and old, with a delinquency rate of 11.5%, the highest of any type of debt. It’s still nearly impossible to discharge student debt in bankruptcy, which helps to explain why people are four times as likely to fall behind on these payments as they are their car payments (3.4% delinquency rate). 

The number of people who admit they have more credit debt than they have cash in their savings accounts has increased over the past four years, according to Bankrate's Financial Security Index — up from 23% in 2011 to 28% in 2013.

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