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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Slackens
by Tom Moeller  May 7, 2018

Consumer credit outstanding increased $11.62 billion (5.0% y/y) during March following a $13.63 billion February rise, revised from $10.61 billion. It was the weakest monthly increase in six  months. A $16.0 billion rise 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 grew $14.22 billion (5.1% y/y) after a $14.15 billion rise. Federal government borrowing (38% of the total) rose 8.6% y/y. Finance company balances (22% of the total) fell 2.0% y/y. Borrowing from depository institutions (25% of the total) improved 3.6% y/y and credit union loans (12% of the total) strengthened 12.3% y/y.

Revolving consumer credit balances plummeted $2.60 billion (+4.8% y/y), undoing strength at the end of last year.  Balances at depository institutions (84% of the total) increased 7.4% y/y. Finance company holdings (6% of the total) fell 7.9% y/y, while borrowing from credit unions (5% of the total) strengthened 8.6% 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 Mar Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total $11.62 bil. $13.63 bil. $15.02 bil. 5.0% 5.2% 6.8% 7.1%
   Nonrevolving 14.22 14.15 14.26 5.1 4.9 6.7 7.7
   Revolving -2.60 -0.52 0.75 4.8 6.2 6.8 5.4
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