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2011 Personal Bankruptcies Down 12%

 

Personal Bankruptcy Down 12%According to a new report from Fitch Ratings, 2011 personal bankruptcy filings declined by 12% to 1.35 million from the year earlier. It was the first decline in four years, possibly resulting from somewhat improved economic conditions and decreased consumer spending.

Credit card charge-offs, which are directly affected by bankruptcy filings, fell significantly through 2011, sliding 37% from the year earlier. Lower personal bankruptcies had a less profound, but still important, effect on auto ABS, Fitch said.

Fitch said it plans to release its 2012 bankruptcy forecast in the coming weeks.

Dow Jones’ Ben Fox Rubin reports that the results helped drive the quickly improving performance in consumer asset-backed securities sectors, which involve credit card, auto and student loans. In December, Fitch said U.S. ABS ratings based on consumer debt remained a bright spot since the transactions exhibited positive rating performance for the past four years.

Factors such as high unemployment, weakened consumer confidence, a soft housing market and worries about European debt recently have raised concerns that the sluggish U.S. recovery could turn into a recession. But Fitch said consumer ABS ratings have been battle-tested several times over the last 20 years.

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