Consumer Credit Expands

The total amount of consumer credit outstanding continues to climb. According to the most recent release by the Federal Reserve Board, the total amount of consumer credit outstanding expanded by seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.8% in February to a seasonally adjusted level of $2.8 trillion. This is the eighteenth consecutive monthly increase in consumer credit outstanding. Over this period, the total amount of consumer credit outstanding has widened by 8.9% or $228.2 billion. Since reaching a trough in July 2010, consumer credit outstanding has grown by 17.2% or $410.1 billion. However, the increase over this period partly reflects a shift of consumer credit from pools of securitized assets to other categories that was largely due to financial institutions’ implementation of the FAS 166/167 accounting rules.

Presentation1

The increase in consumer credit continues to reflect an expansion in non-revolving credit. According to the release, non-revolving credit, which is mostly composed of auto and student loans, expanded by a seasonally annual rate of 10.9% to a seasonally adjusted level of $2.0 trillion. Meanwhile, revolving credit, which is largely composed of credit cards, rose by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted level of $848.0 billion. The larger role played by non-revolving credit relative to revolving credit in the growth of total consumer credit outstanding over the month of February is consistent with the trend since July 2010. As Chart 1 illustrates, growth in total consumer credit outstanding since July 2010 has largely reflected a widening of non-revolving credit as opposed to an increase in revolving credit. Over this period, non-revolving credit has grown by 28.8% or $436.1 billion, while revolving credit has decreased by 3.0% or $26.0 billion.



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6 replies

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