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Capital One Warns, delinquencies rise

Capital One Financial Corp COF.N: which this week boosted its forecast for 2008 credit losses, on Friday said more customers had difficulty paying their bills in October than in the third quarter.

On a managed basis, the net charge-off rate in U.S. cards rose to 5.11 percent in October from 4.13 percent in the third quarter, while the rate of loans 30 or more days past due rose to 4.75 percent from 4.46 percent. The charge-off rates within auto finance and global financial services also rose in October from the third quarter, McLean, Virginia-based Capital One said.

But the interesting situation is:

People are putting their credit card payments ahead of their mortgages, said Richard Fairbank, chief executive officer of Capital One Financial Corp., the largest independent U.S. credit card issuer. Of customers who are at least three months late on their mortgage payments, 70 percent are current on their credit cards, he said.

The new bankruptcy code makes it harder for debtors to qualify for Chapter 7, the section that erases non-mortgage debt. It shifted people who get paychecks higher than the median income for their area to Chapter 13, giving them up to five years to pay off non-housing creditors.

The court-ordered payment plans fail to account for subprime loans with adjustable rates that can reset as often as every six months, said Henry Sommer, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. Two-thirds of debtors won't be able to complete their payback plans, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Four million subprime borrowers with limited or tainted credit histories will see their mortgage bills increase by an average 40 percent in the next 18 months, according to the National Association of Consumer Advocates in Washington. About 1.45 million of those will end up in foreclosure by the end of 2008, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, a research firm and unit of Moody's Corp. in New York.

The percentage of subprime borrowers making late payments increased to 14.82, a five-year high, from 13.77.

Personal bankruptcies rose 48 percent to 391,105 in the first half of 2007 from a year earlier and Chapter 13 filings accounted for more than one-third of those, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. In the first half of 2005, they were just 24 percent of the total.

``The law had an unintended consequence of taking away a relief valve that mortgage borrowers used to have,'' said Rod Dubitsky, head of asset-backed research for Credit Suisse Holdings USA Inc. in New York. ``It's bad for the mortgage borrowers and bad for subprime investors because it means more losses.''...

So far, most lenders have been reluctant to change loan agreements. About 1 percent of mortgages that reset in January, April and July were modified, according to a Sept. 21 Moody's Investors Service report that surveyed 16 subprime lenders that account for 80 percent of the market.
Well, the only question in my mind is when exactly did the gilded age end?

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