Jul 31, 2019

Delinquencies spike with record-high credit card interest rates

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Data: St. Louis Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

Since 2014, credit card interest rates have risen 4.4 percentage points, representing a 35% increase in costs for consumers, data from NerdWallet shows, despite the fact that U.S. interest rates remain at historical lows.

Context: Though the rate remains historically low, delinquencies are up 22% since 2015.

Why it matters: That adds significantly to the interest costs for consumers who carry credit card debt from month to month, and the average household now pays more than $1,150 a year in credit card interest.

On the bright side: Consumers may get some respite from a Fed rate cut. Credit card rates are legally tied to the so-called prime rate that banks charge their best customers, which is based on the U.S. overnight interest rate set by the Fed.

But, but, but: The Fed funds rate has diverged a bit this year from the prime rate and the credit card rate since the Fed paused its hiking cycle.

  • While the Fed rate hasn't moved since December 2018, the prime rate rose 15 basis points in January to 5.5% and has remained there, and the commercial credit card interest rate has risen 28 basis points to an all-time high of 17.14%.

Between the lines: NerdWallet's data also finds almost half of Americans (47%) do not pay their credit card bill in full each month and 38% of U.S. credit card holders don't know the interest rate on their cards.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.