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Credit Card Write-Offs Reach All-Time High

Perhaps if they weren't charging usurious interest rates, people might be able to make their payments. This means a new wave of worthless derivatives:

Perhaps if they weren't charging usurious interest rates, people might be able to make their payments. This means a new wave of worthless derivatives:

NEW YORK — Credit card write-downs soared to record levels in February, representing an all-time high in the 20-year history of the Moody's Credit Card Index, as job losses mounted, the rating agency said Wednesday.

Credit card charge-offs, the write-down of uncollectable debt, advanced decisively to 8.82% in February, marking the sixth consecutive month of increases. The level, is more than 300 basis points higher than a year ago.

Sharp increases were experienced across several large issuers and have closely followed the surges in unemployment occurring over recent months, the rating agency said.

"We expect that the charge-off index will threaten double digits by the end of the year, in light of our expectation that the economy will worsen throughout the remainder of the year," Moody's said.

It predicts the charge-off rate index will peak at about 10.5% in the first half of 2010, assuming a coincident unemployment rate peak at 10%.

As deal performance continues to erode, the potential for additional rating actions increases, especially for the lower-rated subordinate tranches.

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