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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Borrowing Remains Strong
by Tom Moeller  March 7, 2013

The consumer is showing an aggressive interest in borrowing, according to the Federal Reserve. Consumer credit outstanding grew at a $16.1B annual rate during January following a little-revised $15.1B December gain. Consensus expectations were for a $13.9B rise. The latest increase left the y/y gain stable at 5.8%. On a three-month basis, however, the similarly strong 7.1% rate of growth is the firmest since mid-2007.

Use of non-revolving credit lines continues to set a firm pace. Its $16.0B January rise left the y/y increase at 8.2% and three-month growth at 10.9%. Federal government loans rose by one quarter y/y, securitized loans grew 13.9% y/y, credit union lending grew 9.6% y/y and commercial bank loans gained 3.4% y/y. Lending by savings institutions fell 11.0% 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 ticked up just $0.1B after falling $3.1B in December. The y/y increase was a modest 0.8%. Savings institution loans rose 15.1% y/y but pools of securitized assets rose just 1.6% y/y. Credit union loans increased 5.6% y/y, commercial bank lending grew 1.3% y/y though finance company lending fell 14.9% 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. 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 Jan Dec Nov Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total $16.1B $15.1B $16.1B 5.8% 5.8% 3.4% -1.2%
   Revolving 0.1 -3.1 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.1 -7.4
   Non-revolving 16.0 18.3 15.2 8.2 8.3 5.0 2.5
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