The opening sessions of the Information Management Network's 14th annual ABS East conference in Hollywood, Florida yesterday, honed in on the deteriorating health of the U.S. consumer, a trend that ultimately threatens performance in the consumer ABS space.

Household net worth has dropped $2 trillion to $56 trillion and household debt is currently at a whopping $14 trillion, panelists said. Revolving credit rose 5.7% from August 2007 to August 2008. This, coupled with the rising unemployment rate, will make for a dismal holiday season for the consumer, a speaker at one of the general sessions said, which will put pressure on consumer-based assets. U.S. retail and food services sales for September were $375.5 billion, a decrease of 1.2% from the previous month and 1% drop from September 2007, according to a report this month from the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, panelists were bullish on the American consumer's resiliency and ability to keep spending — even during tough times, which will continue to support retail sales and drive demand for product in the sector.

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