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Economy in Brief

U.S. Consumer Credit Unexpectedly Surges in September
by Tom Moeller  November 6, 2020

• Nonrevolving borrowing jumps.

• Credit card balances resume their increase.

Consumer credit outstanding increased $16.2 billion (0.4% y/y) during September following a $6.9 billion August decline, revised from $7.2 billion. A $7.7 billion increase had been expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Nonrevolving credit usage strengthened $12.2 billion (3.9% y/y) after a $2.8 billion August increase, revised from $2.2 billion. Federal government borrowing, which issues over 40% of nonrevolving credit, grew 5.3% y/y. Depository institution loans (29% of credit) grew a greatly lessened 3.0% y/y, down from 6.8% y/y growth as of December. Finance company borrowing (16.0% of loans) firmed 3.0% y/y and credit union loans (14.0% of the total) increased 3.2% y/y.

Revolving consumer credit balances rebounded $4.0 billion (-9.3% y/y) after pulling back $9.7 billion in August, revised from $-9.4 billion. It was the first increase since February. Year-to-year, credit provided by depository institutions, 90% of the total and mostly credit card debt, declined 9.2%. Credit union borrowing fell 5.2% y/y and finance company loans were off 27.3% y/y.

The dollar value of motor vehicle loans outstanding rose a steady 3.6% y/y during Q3'20, while student loan balances rose a reduced 3.3% y/y.

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) Sep Aug Jul Sep y/y 2019 2018 2017
Total ($ bil) 16.2 -6.9 14.7 0.4% 4.6% 4.8% 5.3%
   Nonrevolving 12.2 2.8 15.3 3.9 4.9 5.2 5.1
   Revolving 4.0 -9.7 -0.7 -9.3 3.8 3.6 6.0
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