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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Growth Eases M/M and Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2017

Consumer credit outstanding increased $14.2 billion during December following a little-revised $25.2 billion November gain. A $20.0 billion increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Full-year growth in consumer credit, at 6.4%, was the weakest since 2013. Consumer credit outstanding rose to 26.3% of disposable personal income by the end of last year, versus 25.7% at the end of 2015. Over the past ten years, there has been a 46% correlation between the y/y growth in consumer credit and y/y growth in personal consumption expenditures.

Nonrevolving credit gained $11.8 billion (6.5% y/y) after a $13.4 billion increase. Federal government loans (38% of the total) rose 10.6% y/y. Finance company balances (22% of the total) fell 2.0% y/y. Borrowing from depository institutions (25% of the total) improved 7.3% y/y, and credit union loans (12% of the total) strengthened 12.3% y/y.

The gain in revolving consumer credit eased to $2.4 billion (6.1% y/y) after an $11.8 billion surge. Balances at depository institutions (84% of the total) increased 7.0% y/y. Finance company holdings (6% of the total) fell 3.0% y/y, while borrowing from credit unions (5% of the total) advanced 7.4% y/y.

Student loan balances increased 6.5% y/y, roughly half the rate of growth averaged from 2007 to 2009. Motor vehicle loans rose 7.1% y/y, the slowest rate of increase since 2011.

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 2016 2015 2014
Total $14.2 bil. $25.2 bil. $16.0 bil. 6.4% 6.4% 7.0% 7.2%
   Revolving 2.4 11.8 2.4 6.1 6.1 5.2 3.9
   Nonrevolving 11.8 13.4 13.7 6.5 6.5 7.7 8.4
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