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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Usage Eases
by Tom Moeller  November 7, 2018

Consumer credit outstanding increased $10.93 billion (4.8% y/y) during September following a $22.88 billion August increase, revised from $20.07 billion. A $16.5 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 $11.23 billion (5.2% y/y) during September. Federal government borrowing (42% of the total) rose a weaker 8.3% y/y. Borrowing from depository institutions (25% of the total) improved 3.7% y/y but finance company balances (18% of the total) fell 1.1% y/y. Credit union loans (13% of the total) rose a greatly strengthened 11.7% y/y.

Revolving consumer credit balances eased $0.31 billion in September (+3.7% y/y). Balances at depository institutions (88% of the total) rose a lessened 6.1% y/y. Borrowing from credit unions (6% of the total) rose a weaker 7.8% y/y. Finance company balances (2% of the total) fell a steady 9.9% y/y, while nonfinancial business borrowing (2% of the total) weakened 4.0% y/y.

Student loans rose a steady 5.6% y/y during Q3'18 while motor vehicle borrowing gained a stronger 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) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total $10.93 bil. $22.88 bil. $17.45 bil. 4.8% 5.1% 6.7% 7.1%
   Nonrevolving 11.23 18.26 16.32 5.2 4.8 6.7 7.7
   Revolving -0.31 4.61 1.15 3.7 6.1 6.8 5.4
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