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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Growth Perks Up
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2014

The Federal Reserve Board reported that consumer credit outstanding increased $18.8 billion (6.2% y/y) during December following a little revised $12.4 billion November gain. It was the largest monthly increase since February and left y/y growth at 6.2%, roughly equal to 2012. Expectations had been for a $12.9 billion increase according to the Action Economics survey.

Usage of non-revolving credit increased $13.8 billion (8.0% y/y) in December. Federal government loans increased 18.4% y/y. These constitute roughly one-third of total non-revolving credit. Finance company lending (28% of the total) edged up 0.5% y/y and commercial bank consumer loans (24% of the total) gained 6.8% y/y. Borrowing at credit unions (10% of the total) advanced 8.7% y/y and borrowing from savings institutions (1.0% of the total) increased 7.5% y/y.

During the fourth quarter, student loan balances rose 8.3% y/y, down from nearly 15.0% growth in 2008. Motor vehicle loans outstanding increased 8.0% y/y, nearly a new high and up from the 7.5% rate of liquidation in 2009.

Revolving credit outstanding gained $5.0 billion (1.9% y/y) in December. Commercial bank lending (73% of the total) declined 0.9% y/y while savings institution lending (8% of the total) jumped by 43.6% y/y. Finance company balances (8% of the total) declined 6.0% y/y while borrowing from credit unions (5% of the total) gained 10.5% y/y. Nonfinancial business accounts (3% of the total) continued to fall 19.5% y/y and securitized credit card balances (4% of the total) fell 1.9% y/y.

These Federal Reserve Board figures 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 figures are contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Consumer Credit Outstanding (M/M Chg, SA) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total $18.8 bil. $12.4 bil. $17.8 bil. 6.2% 6.2% 6.1% 4.1%
   Revolving 5.0 0.5 4.0 1.9 1.9 0.4 0.2
   Non-revolving 13.8 11.9 13.9 8.0 8.0 8.6 5.9
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