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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumers Continue To Borrow Aggressively
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2013

Lower unemployment has prompted consumers to spend more than they earn. Consumer credit outstanding matched expectations and gained another $14.6B during December. That followed a downwardly revised $15.9B November increase, according to the Federal Reserve. The latest rise left the y/y gain stable at 5.7%, nearly its strongest since early-2008.

Use of non-revolving credit lines continued quite strong and rose $18.2B, the fifth consecutive double-digit monthly rise. The y/y increase of 8.3% was its strongest since late-2002. Federal government loans rose by one quarter y/y, credit union lending grew 10.8% y/y, securitized loans increased 7.6% y/y, and commercial bank loans gained 3.9% y/y. Lending by savings institutions fell 15.7% y/y. Non-revolving credit accounts for roughly two thirds of the credit total. In contrast, consumers seemed less inclined to quickly pull out their credit cards. Revolving credit fell $3.6B after inching up $0.5B in November. The y/y increase was a modest 0.3%. Savings institution loans rose 8.6% y/y while pools of securitized assets gained 5.0% y/y. Credit union loans increased 2.6% y/y, commercial bank lending grew 1.2% but finance company lending fell 14.1% y/y.

The figures used in this report are break-adjusted and calculated by Haver Analytics. There is a break in the credit outstanding data from November 2010 to December 2010 due to the Fed's benchmarking process. Benchmark estimates are based on the Census of Finance Companies (CFC) and the Survey of Finance Companies (SFC) conducted in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The consumer credit data are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics expectation figures are in the AS1REPNA database. 


Consumer Credit Outstanding (M/M Chg, SA Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total $14.6B $15.9B $13.9B 5.7% 5.7% 3.4% -1.2%
   Revolving -3.6 0.5 3.3 0.3 0.3 0.1 -7.4
   Non-revolving 18.2 15.4 10.6 8.3 8.3 5.0 2.5
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