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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Eases
by Tom Moeller  February 7, 2019

Consumer credit outstanding increased $16.54 billion (4.9% y/y) to $4.010 trillion during December following a $22.40 billion November rise, revised from $22.16 billion. A $17.5 billion gain had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the past ten years, there has been a 51% correlation between the y/y gain in consumer credit and y/y growth in personal consumption expenditures.

Nonrevolving credit usage increased $14.83 billion (5.6% y/y) during December. Federal government borrowing (42% of the total) rose 8.0% y/y. Borrowing from depository institutions (25% of the total) rose an improved 4.3% y/y but finance company balances (18% of the total) declined 1.1% y/y. Credit union loans (13% of the total) strengthened 14.3% y/y.

Revolving consumer credit balances increased a lessened $1.74 billion (2.8% y/y) in December. Balances at depository institutions (88% of the total) rose a greatly lessened 3.6% y/y. Growth in borrowing from credit unions (6% of the total) also slackened to 7.2% y/y. Finance company balances (2% of the total) fell 10.8% y/y, while nonfinancial business borrowing (2% of the total) held steady y/y.

During Q4'18, student loan debt increased 5.3% y/y, down from a peak 14.7% y/y rise in 2008. Motor vehicle purchase borrowing rose a steady 3.7% 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 Dec y/y 2018 2017 2016
Total $16.54 bil. $22.40 bil. $25.87 bil. 4.9% 4.9% 5.0% 6.8%
   Nonrevolving 14.83 17.57 15.90 5.6 5.6 4.8 6.9
   Revolving 1.74 4.84 9.98 2.8 2.8 5.6 6.8
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