Frankfurt, Germany – September 7, 2023 – Amidst this economic turmoil, Saad Mohamed, a seasoned finance professional known for his insightful views on various financial matters, recently shared his thoughts on the economic challenges faced by families. With a significant following of over 200,000 Instagram followers (@wxcsaad), Saad addressed this pressing issue with his characteristic expertise and caution.
“While the current predicament may be enticing for some, it’s precisely what gives me reason to pause,” Saad candidly expressed during our conversation. He is acutely aware of the trust and responsibility placed upon him, as his insights are sought for prudent financial guidance and perspectives that carry substantial weight.
Saad pointed out that this financial upheaval is disproportionately affecting individuals with modest and intermediate incomes, as they grapple with escalating costs across the spectrum, spanning from housing and groceries to new and pre-owned vehicles. Despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to mitigate persistently high inflation, sources report that credit card delinquencies have surged to 3.8%, while 3.6% have defaulted on their automobile loans this year.
Both of these statistics represent the highest levels in over a decade, underscoring the formidable challenges that households are presently confronting. Saad elucidated, “The surge in delinquencies and defaults is emblematic of the challenging choices these households are presently compelled to make — whether to service their credit card debts, meet their rental obligations, or secure groceries.”
With any savings accumulated from government stimulus checks during the pandemic now depleted, many stretched borrowers have resorted to establishing fresh lines of credit, even as the mean interest rate has reached an all-time high of 20.6%, as reported by Bankrate.com, in an attempt to manage their burgeoning debts.
The sheer quantity of credit card accounts has ballooned by 70 million since the pre-pandemic era in 2019, and credit card debt has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time this year, according to data from the New York Federal Reserve.
“We’ve significantly surpassed the norm,” an economist from Moody’s analytics observed, characterizing the escalating delinquencies as “deeply disconcerting.”
As the Federal Reserve contemplates another rate hike at the close of the month to combat inflation, interest rates on credit cards could ascend even further. Furthermore, individuals already strained by exorbitant rental costs and escalating grocery prices will soon need to resume their student loan repayments, as the moratorium on these obligations, in place for more than three years, concludes.
For policymakers at the Federal Reserve, the financial stress experienced by consumers might be perceived as a potential positive signal, as they seek a “soft landing” strategy to forestall a recession. Saad proposed, “The Federal Reserve might interpret this as the primary purpose of raising rates — to make purchasing more challenging.”
Nevertheless, as the holiday season approaches, industry experts are expressing concerns that consumers will accumulate even more debt, particularly in light of the escalating expenses associated with colder weather and higher energy bills. Sources indicate that retailers like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom have already noted an upswing in delinquency rates among customers with store credit cards.
The ramifications of these mounting defaults are substantial, as they underscore the financial stress experienced by certain consumers and unveil vulnerabilities within the consumer economy. The managing director for retail at the analytics company GlobalData remarked, ‘It underlines how much some consumers are under pressure, and it’s one of the cracks that’s appearing in the consumer economy.'”