September's growth in the Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) was driven primarily by increases in the index's unfavorable factors, all of which registered improvements and some by substantial margins. The overall unfavorable reading leapt from 53 to 53.8, driven by big improvements in accounts placed for collection, from 52.5 to 54.3, dollar amount beyond terms, from 51.1 to 52.2, and filings for bankruptcy, from 58.7 to 59.8.
NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, PhD noted that this reflected a shift in debtor behavior toward friendlier payment behavior with regard to their trade creditors. Essentially, businesses are settling their debts rather than trying to test the waters of late payment. "When times are tough, debtors begin to take advantage of what leverage they have and start to test those that have given them credit. There are more slow pays and many of the negative indicators get progressively worse as companies try to hang on to their cash and test the patience of the credit manager," Kuehl said. "There comes a point when these companies want access to credit again, prompting them to try to catch up and get back in the good graces of those from whom they seek credit. This could explain why the data within the unfavorable categories has improved."