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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Increase Is Strongest Since 2001
by Tom Moeller  May 6, 2016

Consumer credit outstanding jumped $29.7 billion during March (6.6% y/y) following a $14.1 billion February rise, revised from $17.2 billion. It was the fastest gain since November 2001. A $15.7 billion increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last ten years, there has been a 46% correlation between the y/y growth in consumer credit and y/y growth in personal consumption expenditures.

Revolving consumer credit surged $11.1 billion (6.2% y/y) after an unrevised $2.9 billion rise. It was the strongest gain since February 2001. Credit card balances at depository institutions (84% of the total) surged 8.8% y/y. Finance company holdings (6% of the total) fell 5.1% y/y, while borrowing from credit unions (5% of the total) advanced 7.3% y/y. Nonfinancial business credit (2% of the total) fell 5.4% y/y, and securitized credit card balances (3% of the total) declined 15.9% y/y.

Nonrevolving credit borrowing grew $18.6 billion (6.8% y/y) following an $11.2 billion rise, revised from $14.3 billion reported last month. It was the quickest rise in six months. Federal government loans (36% of the total) increased 11.1% y/y. Finance company balances (24% of the total) eased 0.8% y/y. Borrowing at depository institutions (25% of the total) accelerated to 5.7% y/y, and borrowing at credit unions (11% of the total) also accelerated to 15.1% y/y. Nonprofit & educational institution loans (2% of the total) declined 8.7% y/y, and nonfinancial business loans (1% of the total) remained unchanged y/y.

Student loans outstanding increased a diminished 6.2% y/y during Q1'16 while motor vehicle loans rose a steady 8.2% 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) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total $29.7 bil. $14.1 bil. $13.1 bil. 6.6% 6.6% 7.2% 6.0%
   Revolving 11.1 2.9 -0.2 6.2 5.2 3.9 1.4
   Nonrevolving 18.6 11.2 13.3 6.8 7.1 8.4 7.9
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