U.S. banks have seen delinquency rates declining for credit card borrowers in recent months, but a growing number of bankers believe that trend is going to change.
The third-quarter survey of 188 risk management professionals at banks conducted for FICO, the consumer credit rating firm, by the Professional Risk Managers' International Association found that almost 40% of respondents predict delinquencies among credit card borrowers will increase, compared with about 30% in the second quarter.
Bankers have been stressing that credit card borrowers have been paying down their balances, and loss rates have improved substantially in recent quarters. A reversal of such trends would be a setback that might spook bank stock investors at a time when revenue growth, rather than credit quality, has moved to the forefront of shareholder attention.
Most analysts have come to expect improvements in bank losses from bad loans as a given.
The survey found that 46% expect mortgage delinquencies to increase. Mortgage delinquencies have remained a drag on bank profits, in part because many borrowers have mortgages larger than the value of their homes and home prices have yet to recover from the decline during the financial meltdown.