DALLAS, December 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Brazilian economic growth was sustained by consumer credit and in Argentina, consumers still prefer card lending.
In Brazil, the millions of people who joined the middle class since 2002 stimulated consumption through consumer credit. The government's equation was based on the simple motto: more people, more credit. Financial institutions led by public banks followed the government's maxim and supplied the economy with expanding consumer credit lines.
Mortgages/housing lead consumer credit in demand and supply
The dream of buying a house stimulated millions of Brazilians to take advantage of mortgages/housing credit supply in 2012. While low-income consumers gain access to credit lines through the government's programme Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life), the emerging middle class finds credit opportunities offered primarily by public banks CEF (Caixa Econômica Federal) and Banco do Brasil.
Auto-lending loses speed as a result of rising outstanding loans
The race to purchase a new car ended as rising numbers of outstanding loans slowed down auto-lending in 2012. Banks decreased credit supply and began to exercise greater scrutiny before accepting new auto-lending contracts. However, lower-interest rates are expected to bring new life to auto-lending as lenders become more confident about their ability to receive their payments, and borrowers about their ability to fulfill their financial obligations.
The strategic role of financial education becomes important
A significant number of consumers remain uneducated about basic elements surrounding consumer credit and financial instruments. At a time of lower-interest rates when banks need to compete based on price, the cost of offering consumer credit became even more crucial for financial institutions' profitability. Therefore, rather than constituting a social issue, financial education took a strategic role in helping banks to lower operational costs and increase competitiveness.
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In Argentina, Consumers still prefer card lending
Although during 2012 retailers and banks offered less in terms of promotions such as discounts and long-term financing, consumers still preferred to take advantage of them where possible, as well as reward programmes launched by issuers of credit cards. In 2012, card lending outstanding balance registered the highest growth rate within consumer lending outstanding balance compared to 2011.
Auto lending boosts new car sales and renewal
Auto lending outstanding balance grew significantly during 2012, boosted by loans with fixed interest rates in pesos and the high inflation rate, while salaries followed the unofficial inflation rate of around 30% in 2012. Buying cars, either new or used, became a way to preserve value.
Mortgage category unable to recover
During 2012, the mortgages/housing lending category significantly underperformed compared to consumer lending as a whole, due to the absence of long-term deposits in banks that would allow long-term credits, as well as the high inflation rate, the increasing cost of property priced in US dollars while salaries were set in pesos, and the absence of policies regarding housing problems, mainly impacting low- and middle-income groups.
Interest rates under control
The Federal Government established foreign exchange controls in November 2011 and was able to minimise the flight of capital and thus reduce interest rates that had been rising during 2011 as a consequence of the liquidity crisis, itself caused by the economic uncertainty that had led people to look for the security of the US dollar.
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