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Special issue brief: The early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer credit

This second COVID-19 Special Issue Brief describes trends in delinquency rates, payment assistance, credit access, and account balance measures with a focus on the period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020). Based on the credit outcomes analyzed, this report shows that through June 2020 consumers did not experience many of the negative credit consequences that might be expected during periods of high unemployment and large income shocks.

The analysis shows that between March and June of 2020 delinquencies declined on auto loan, mortgage, student loan, and credit card accounts, while the number of accounts with zero payment due (assistance) increased. Financial institutions also appear to have responded by increasing closures of credit card accounts and halting limit increases, but these actions have not significantly limited overall access to credit. As of June 2020, consumers also do not appear to have responded to adverse financial conditions by increasing balances, consistent with reports showing significant decreases in consumer spending since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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