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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Growth Accelerates
by Tom Moeller  June 6, 2014

Individuals' credit usage has picked up with confidence in the staying power of the economic expansion. The Federal Reserve Board reported that consumer credit outstanding increased $26.8 billion during April following a $19.5 billion March gain, last month reported as $17.5 billion. The rise was the quickest since November 2001 and outpaced expectations for a $15.6 billion gain, according to the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last ten years there has been a 54% correlation between the y/y growth in consumer credit and the y/y growth in personal consumption expenditures.

Usage of non-revolving credit increased $18.0 billion (8.2% y/y) in April. Federal government loans increased 16.9% y/y. These constitute roughly one-third of total non-revolving credit. Finance company lending (27% of the total) edged up 0.9% y/y and consumer loans from banks (26% of the total) gained 7.2% y/y. Borrowing at credit unions (10% of the total) advanced 11.5% y/y.

Revolving credit outstanding gained a firmer $8.8 billion (2.4% y/y) in April. Commercial bank & savings institution lending (81% of the total) gained 3.6% y/y. Finance company balances (8% of the total) declined 5.6% y/y while borrowing from credit unions (5% of the total) gained 7.0% y/y. Nonfinancial business accounts (3% of the total) remained y/y, and securitized credit card balances (4% of the total) fell 8.4% 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) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total $26.8 bil. $19.5 bil. $15.4 bil. 6.5% 6.0% 6.1% 4.1%
   Revolving 8.8 2.2 -0.9 2.4 1.3 0.6 0.2
   Nonrevolving 18.0 17.3 16.3 8.2 7.8 8.5 5.9
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