Friday, August 27, 2010

Bankruptcy Filings up, Bankruptcy Filings down: How can we know what the trends really are?

Overall we know that the majority of the country is experiencing the highest numbers in personal bankruptcy in quite some time. But some anomalies in the statistics are throwing economists, personal bankruptcy lawyers, and consumers for a bit of a loop.

According to the Rochester Business Journal, the bankruptcy stats in the area of western New York state are dropping -- well below national averages, and rather quickly.

Conversely, personal bankruptcy rates in in nearby Maryland are growing at alarming rates -- new data suggests perhaps as much as 20 percent higher than the national average. So why the stark difference? After all, Maryland and New York are in the same part of the United States, and the idea that western New York would be on the upside of this equation is somewhat counterintuitive.

New information reveals that the New York downward bankruptcy trend decreasing may likely have to do with the fact that the area did not experience anywhere near the devastation that the rest of the nation did during the housing bust. The major reasons for bankruptcy here are credit card and medical debt -- still serious, but statistically not comparable to bankruptcy caused by subprime housing issues and other large asset based-bankruptcy.

So why then is bankruptcy more prevalent in Maryland? While it's a stone's throw from New York, the likely answer is the obvious one: Maryland was harder hit by the subprime crisis than western New York. In addition, those who chose to file for personal bankruptcy opted for Chapter 7 more often than Chapter 13, making it clear that these were consumers in far over their heads. The Baltimore Sun suggests that another issue may be that consumers in Maryland may have abused their credit more than the average consumer in other parts of the country, but this speculation may not wash when all the cards are on the table.

No comments:

Post a Comment