Millions of Americans Skip Credit-Card, Car Payments… Cash, long a refuge in uncertain times, now under suspicion

Millions of people are behind on their credit-card and auto-loan payments, the latest sign of the coronavirus pandemic’s financial devastation.

Lenders in April had nearly 15 million credit cards in “financial hardship” programs, such as deferral programs that let borrowers temporarily stop making payments, according to estimates by credit-reporting firm TransUnion. That accounts for about 3% of the credit-card accounts the company tracks, TransUnion said Wednesday.

Nearly three million auto loans were in these hardship programs, accounting for about 3.5% of those tracked.

www.wsj.com/articles/millions-of-americans-skip-credit-card-and-car-payments-11589985381

 

BEIRUT (AP) — In troubled times, people have been known to hoard currency at home — a financial security blanket against deep uncertainty. But in this crisis, things are different. This time cash itself, passed from hand to hand across neighborhoods, cities and societies just like the coronavirus, is a source of suspicion rather than reassurance.

READ  Today, historic low interest rates and tight credit spreads have created the loosest backdrop yet.

No longer a thing to be shoved mindlessly into a pocket, tucked into a worn wallet or thrown casually on a kitchen counter, money’s status has changed during the virus era — perhaps irrevocably. The pandemic has also reawakened debate about the continued viability of what has been the physical lifeblood of global economies: paper money and coins.

From the supermarkets of the United States and Japan to the shantytowns of Africa to the gas stations of Tehran, a growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus.

Public officials and health experts have said that the risk of transferring the virus from person to person through the use of money is minimal. That hasn’t stopped businesses from refusing to accept currency, and some countries from urging citizens to stop using banknotes altogether.

apnews.com/81f11055d39cefc7e9483c77e682bdbc