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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Visualizing Financial Distress

Visualizing Financial Distress

The Admistrative Office of the US Courts (AO) has released updated data on bankruptcy filings. While the AO data as some problems,  accessibility of the data has improved. For example, there is now an interactive map by state that is informative.
One nice thing is the statistics on net scheduled debt. Given the way that some people seize on the dollars of debt in bankruptcy as a marker of the system, the AO has deducted nondischargeable debt from the total debt listed by the debtor. To do otherwise, gives a misleading picture of how much "help" people get from bankruptcy. But additional caution is still needed. For the chapter 13 filers, about 2 in 3 of these people will not get a discharge of any unsecured debts because they will not complete the repayment plan. Much more importantly, these figures are total debt, the bulk of which will be mortgage and auto debt, which debtors must pay if they want to keep their homes and cars.
The interactive maps at the NY Fed are another useful visual tool. These have been upgraded recently to show delinquencies on auto loans, bank cards, mortgages, and even student loans. Check them out here.

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