Credit Risk

Economic Insights on Credit and Affordability

Economic Insights on Credit and Affordability

May 20, 2024 | Olivia Voltaggio

The March Market Pulse webinar resonated deeply with our audience. It delved into the complexities of affordability and its effects on individual financial health. In fact, our panel received so many audience questions that we brought the experts back on our latest Market Pulse podcast. 

Our panel featured a remarkable group of women, including Amy Crews Cutts, president and chief economist at AC Cutts & Associates, alongside three Equifax experts: Maria Urtubey from our Risk Advisory Practice, Anna Fisher, vice president of Specialty Financial Consulting, and Mariette de Meillon, director of Presales Analytics.

Deep Dive into Credit Trends

Our panel conversation explored different aspects of the credit landscape, particularly focusing on loan performance and credit behavior across various consumer segments.

Credit Scores and Loan Performance

Mariette de Meillon tackled a key question regarding the performance of new versus older credit vintages in unsecured loans. She explained that while there is a perceived shift in the performance of newer vintages, traditional measures like the VantageScore® continue to rank-order risk effectively. De Meillon highlighted the impact of a slightly loosened underwriting standard over the past four years and an increase in the debt-to-income ratio among borrowers of unsecured personal loans.

Utilization and Delinquencies

The panel also discussed the rising trend in credit utilization reaching pre-pandemic levels, despite higher credit limits. Mariette de Meillon emphasized the associated risk, noting that higher usage could predict increased delinquencies, especially in the near-prime credit segment. This insight is crucial for lenders and financial institutions aiming to manage risks prudently.

Insights on Delinquent Loans and Consumer Profiles

Anna Fisher shared insights on delinquency trends, particularly highlighting that not all consumers seeking financial services in historically subprime segments are financially fragile. This counters the traditional view and suggests a more nuanced understanding of consumer behavior in these segments.

Economic Pressures and Consumer Spending

A significant part of the discussion was dedicated to understanding the drivers behind current consumer spending trends and how economic pressures are influencing these behaviors.

Pandemic Impact and Consumer Spending

Amy Crews Cutts discussed the residual impact of pandemic-era relief payments on consumer spending. She noted that although there's still some "gas left in the tank," the financial resilience varies significantly across different income levels, affecting spending behaviors and financial stability.

Student Loan Debt and Consumer Behavior

Maria Urtubey provided updates on the student loan landscape, particularly in light of federal student loan payments resuming last October. She pointed out the strategic behaviors consumers are adopting in anticipation of new developments regarding student loan policies, emphasizing the ongoing uncertainty in this area.

Forward-Looking Strategies

The latter part of the podcast focused on strategies that institutions and consumers could adopt in response to the evolving economic landscape.

Adapting Credit Models Post-Pandemic

Mariette de Meillon suggested that financial institutions might need to recalibrate their models to align better with post-pandemic consumer behavior. She recommended incorporating more comprehensive data points into decision strategies to help refine risk assessment and mitigation approaches.

Innovative Approaches in Credit Risk Management

Anna Fisher discussed how financial institutions are increasingly relying on complex algorithms and alternative data to improve credit risk management. She highlighted the importance of adapting these models to meet fair lending requirements and effectively serve diverse consumer bases.


This podcast episode not only provided a wealth of knowledge on current trends but also equipped listeners with the understanding needed to navigate the complexities of today's economic environment. Whether you’re a business leader, financial advisor, or consumer, these insights are designed to help you make more informed decisions and strategically manage your financial health.

Olivia Voltaggio

Olivia Voltaggio

Senior Content Manager, US Information Solutions

Olivia joined Equifax in 2019. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science degree in advertising and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Olivia holds an Editing Certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School.