The Only Thing Certain is That Things Are…Well…Uncertain

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October 19, 2016 by Mark Hammerstrom

“Before I came here, I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture, I am still confused — but on a higher level.”  ― Enrico Fermi

To say we live in uncertain times is an understatement. Yet, if you really think about it, has there ever really been a time of certainty? William Thomson (more famously known as Lord Kelvin) once said at the height of the highly confident Victorian era: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, all that remains is more and more precise measurement.”

Of course, shortly thereafter Albert Einstein published his famous theories and turned physics on its head.

I told my wife the other day that as each election approaches I recall saying words to the effect that “I don’t ever recall such a horrible campaign.” Then the next one comes. It is worse, and causes even greater uncertainty than the last.

It appears I am not alone in that perception, and it seem this uncertainty and ambiguity is taking a toll on us. Brian Resnick, in an article for CNBC entitled “Election anxiety is real. A majority of Americans report ‘significant stress’ due to 2016,” reports on preliminary findings from the American Psychological Association’s recent “Stress in America” report.

Resnick writes: “Around half of people surveyed (52 percent) say the election ‘is a very or somewhat significant’ source of stress in their lives. The breakdown by party is about even: 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say this election is causing them stress.”

Of interest is that the demographic groups with the highest reported “election stress” are at the opposite ends of the age spectrum: 59% of the so-called “Matures” (ages 71 and above) report somewhat/very significant stress levels while, surprisingly, 56% of “Millennials” (ages 19-37) report the same.

One would think this could be an indication of a tipping point where consumers concern with the uncertainty about the direction of the country would cause a pullback in spending, push up delinquencies and cause general economic mayhem.

Apparently, however, at least through the second quarter, the consumer continues to be remarkably robust and delinquencies remain at historic lows.

An article posted on ACA International’s website “Consumer Loan Delinquency Rates Continue to Improve” cites the American Banker’s Association latest quarterly report showing “…bank card and overall delinquencies remain well-below their 15-year average.

Quoting the ACA International article: “The composite ratio of delinquencies in eight closed-end loans (including for homes and vehicles) declined three basis points to a record low of 1.35 percent of all accounts, according to a news release from the ABA.”

So what gives?

According to James Chessen, the ABA’s Chief Economist, “Consumers have learned the lessons of the past and have taken a highly disciplined approach that allows them to consistently pay off or pay down debt.”

Quoting Chessen further: “With a steadily improving economy and wages on the rise, consumers’ ability to meet their financial obligations will only get stronger…We expect this trend of near-historically low delinquency levels to continue over the next several quarters.”

This is good news. That is, if consumers can keep their heads and meet their financial obligations with good financial discipline and maturity. History tells a different story however.

So why bring this up in a blog generally related to improving the collections process and maximizing our client’s debt recovery?

If history is any indication, just when things seem the most stable is the time when things can change quickly. Between the election, uncertainty about the economy, and how the Federal Reserve will impact growth, we continue to urge our clients to be vigilant and focused on debt recovery.  Certainly, when times are good, debts can be much more efficient to collect.  However, delaying or deferring the use of a quality debt collection agency like UCS can have a negative effect on delinquent account collections if things suddenly turn south.

One thing is for certain: UCS is here to help you in the best of times and the worst of times. Take advantage of our expertise to help you maximize your bad debt collections today.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.


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