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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Issuance Continues Monthly Zig Zag, Annual Growth Stable
by Gerald D. Cohen  February 7, 2020

• Consumer credit jumped $22.1 billion in December.

• Credit growth for 2019 was fairly steady at 4.7% versus 4.8% in 2018.

Consumer credit outstanding increased $22.1 billion (4.7% year-on-year) to $4.197 trillion in December, following a downardly revised $11.8 bil. in November (was $12.5 bil.). A $14.4 billion gain had been expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Nonrevolving credit usage grew $9.4 billion (4.8% y/y) during December, down from $14.7 bil. in November. Borrowing from the federal government, which issues over 40% of nonrevolving credit, grew 6.7% y/y. Depository institutions (25% of credit) gained 7.4% y/y. Both of these sectors’ share of issuance continues grow at the expense of finance and credit unions.

Revolving consumer credit balances grew $12.6 billion (4.2% y/y) in December, after falling $2.9 billion in November. Credit provided by depository institutions, which makes up 90% of revolving balances, grew 4.4% y/y.

During 2019, student loan debt increased 4.7% Q4/Q4, somewhat slower than the 5.3% growth 2018. Motor vehicle financing gained 3.5% Q4/Q4, similar to the previous year.

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) Dec Nov Oct Dec % y/y 2019 2018 2017
Total ($ bil) 22.06 11.80 18.69 4.7 4.7 4.8 5.1
   Nonrevolving 9.42 14.73 11.26 4.8 4.8 5.4 4.9
   Revolving 12.64 -2.92 7.43 4.2 4.2 3.1 5.6
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