NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Banks are squeezing consumers more than they were three years ago, despite a recovering economy, according to a new index.

The Credit Power Index, based on the world's largest database of banking rates compiled by TheStreet's RateWatch division, reveals how much consumers are squeezed by the rates they pay for credit compared with the interest they receive on deposits at banks across the country. The index shows that the interest rate climate for consumers in the U.S. is considerably worse than it was before the financial crisis, despite the taxpayer-funded banking bailout and the easy money policy of the Federal Reserve.

The metric provides new insight into the disposable income of average Americans by measuring their biggest expenses -- mortgages, car loans, home equity loans and credit -- compared with their earnings potential from deposits.

The decline in consumers' credit power has largely been driven by a sharp drop in deposit rates, which has not been offset by the smaller drop in loan rates. While mortgage rates have hit historic lows, for instance, the average rate for unsecured personal loans has dipped only slightly during the past few years.

"Because the deposit side of the rates has fallen more sharply than the loan side, the spread between what the bank charges you and what it pays you has grown, costing consumers more in net interest rates," says Bob Quinn, chief operating officer of RateWatch. "Based on this 'net interest rate' calculation, this is the among the worst rate climates we have had over the last four years."

The index tracks consumers' banking power by subtracting certificate of deposit rates at four terms (12, 36, 48 and 60 months), from the lending rates on four bank products at the same terms: a personal unsecured loan, a home equity loan, a new car loan and an adjustable-rate mortgage. (Banks that did not offer all eight products were excluded from the Credit Power Index; for the full methodology, see How the Credit Power Index Works.)

The difference at each term is then added to create the Credit Power Index for each bank -- a measure of how favorable the bank's rates are for the consumer. The greater the index, the greater the difference between loan and deposit rates, and the more consumers are getting squeezed.

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