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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Continues to Decline
by Tom Moeller  June 5, 2020

• Cautious spending breeds less credit usage.

Consumer credit outstanding fell $68.8 billion (+1.6 y/y) during April following an $11.6 billion decline during March, revised from $-12.0 billion. A decline of $45.0 billion had been expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Revolving consumer credit balances declined a record $58.3 billion (-4.9% y/y) in April. Credit provided by depository institutions, which makes up 90% of revolving balances, declined 4.9% y/y. Credit union borrowing eased 0.3% y/y and finance company loans fell 15.0% y/y. Each of these lenders registered drastic month-to-month cutbacks.

Nonrevolving credit usage fell $10.5 billion (+4.0% y/y) during April and reversed the March increase. Borrowing from the federal government, which issues over 40% of nonrevolving credit, grew 6.5% y/y. Depository institution loans (29% of credit) gained a lessened 5.1% y/y. Finance company borrowing (16.0% of loans) rose 0.4% y/y and credit union borrowing (14.0% of loans) rose 0.5% y/y.

Motor vehicle loans rose 3.2% y/y while student loans increased 4.2% y/y.

These Federal Reserve Board figures are break-adjusted and calculated by Haver Analytics. The breaks in the series in 2005, 2010 and 2015 are the result of the incorporation of the Census and Survey of Finance Companies, as well as changes in the seasonal adjustment methodology.

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) Apr Mar Feb Apr % y/y 2019 2018 2017
Total ($ bil) -68.8 -11.6 19.5 1.6 4.6 4.8 5.3
   Nonrevolving -10.5 14.7 13.0 4.0 4.9 5.2 5.1
   Revolving -58.3 -26.3 6.5 -4.9 3.8 3.6 6.0
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