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Americans continue to make smart credit decisions

Dec 25, 2011 Philip Burgess

Despite U.S. credit card debt remaining stagnant compared to October, a recent Sterne Agee report points to a 10.5 percent decrease from November 2010, according to The Associated Press. "Although seasonal holiday spending will likely provide a short-term lift to purchase volumes and subsequent securitization activity, the secular decline is unmistakable," the analysts wrote, as quoted by the news source. Specifically, November credit card debt totaled $243 billion. Analysts found that along with the year-over-year decline, the figure also represents a 25 percent to 30 percent drop from late 2008 levels. When discussing three major banks' current unpaid balances compared to 2008 levels, researchers found JPMorgan Chase dropped by 50 percent, Bank of America by 32 percent and American Express by 25 percent. The Wall Street Journal reports that another large bank, Capital One, also reported flat delinquencies last month, yet figures remain below last year's levels. Furthermore, charge-offs - loans that banks don't expect to be able to collect - are also declining, although at a slightly slower pace.