WESTBURY, N.Y – There was a sizeable increase in equipment repossessions and liquidations during first quarter (Q1) 2005 compared with the same period in 2004, according to the Nassau Asset Management's NasTrac Quarterly Index (NQI). Edward Castagna, senior executive vice president, says Q1 was the first quarter since 2002 that Nassau has seen a significant rise in overall volume of repossessions and liquidations, with NQI highlighting the most notable changes.

Equipment segments showing increased activity in Q1 included trucks (up 45 percent), medical devices (up 258 percent), and personal computers (up 79 percent). Repossessions of construction equipment rose moderately (up 13 percent).

"It is too early to call this a trend, but Q1 is the first time in a long time that repossession and liquidation activity increased for most sectors," Castagna says. "We are monitoring the situation to see if our statistics reflect deeper economic issues."

Conditions that may have driven repossessions during Q1 include rising fuel and insurance costs for trucks and, more broadly, a general slowdown in economic growth as measured by big-ticket factory orders, consumer spending, wages, and debt. Interestingly, an increase in Nassau's volume may be a product of greater lending activity by clients in the equipment finance industry, which means there are more leases and loans in the marketplace in 2005 that may be subject to default.