The worst of the credit crunch may not be over, a report concluded.
The slow economic recovery — combined with new lending standards, cutbacks in consumer spending and possible changes in regulations affecting the consumer credit industry — may make the consumer debt landscape even harder to predict, said the report, released Friday by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
"We are just beginning to understand some of what this might mean," said credit analyst John K. Bartko, who wrote the report. "It might well mean, however, that consumers, especially subprime borrowers, may find it noticeably tougher to get some loans."
The report said borrowing costs could increase, even for customers with strong credit histories, as banks look to recover income they lose because of new credit card laws and proposed changes that restrict fees.
Lenders are looking harder for borrowers with strong credit and stable employment. In addition, rising interest rates might price some consumers out of the market for certain loans, according to the report. "With both lenders and borrowers at a crossroads, we don't believe that the future of the consumer lending business will become clearer until we see how these factors play out," Bartko said.