Consumer Credit Expands on Auto, Student Loans

The Federal Reserve Board recently reported that consumer credit outstanding rose by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2%, $138.7 billion, in January 2015. Consumer credit outstanding now totals $3.3 trillion.

The expansion of total consumer credit outstanding reflected an increase in the outstanding amount of non-revolving consumer credit. Non-revolving consumer credit includes auto loans and student loans. According to the report, non-revolving credit outstanding grew by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.3%, $152.7 billion, in January 2015, 0.5 percentage points faster than the 5.8%, $140.2 billion, growth recorded in December 2014. There is now $2.4 trillion in outstanding non-revolving credit, 73.3% of the total amount of consumer credit outstanding.

The growth in non-revolving credit was partially offset by a contraction in the outstanding amount of revolving credit. Revolving credit outstanding is largely composed of consumer credit card debt. After recording an increase of 8.4%, $74.2 billion, in December 2014, revolving credit outstanding registered a 1.6% decrease, -$13.9 billion, in January 2015. As of January 2015, revolving credit outstanding totals $0.9 trillion, 26.7% of total consumer credit outstanding.

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A previous post illustrated that depository institutions are the largest holders of outstanding consumer credit. According to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which collects banking statistics from depository institutions as part of its responsibility to guarantee the safety of depositor’s accounts, the growth in the amount of loans to individuals, which includes credit cards, other revolving credit plans, automobile loans, and other loans to individuals, but excludes loans to individuals that are secured by real estate, has been accelerating since 2012. As a result, the gap between growth in outstanding loans to individuals and growth in total net lending has converged.

According to Figure 2, loans to individuals made by depository institutions fell by 2.9% in 2009, but total net loans and leases fell by 8.4% indicating that the contraction in loans to individuals was not as severe as other lending made by depository institutions in 2009. Total net loans and leases is equal to the total amount of loans and leases less the reserve for debts gone bad. In 2010, loans to individuals rose by 24.4% while total net loans and leases grew by 1.3%, indicating that growth in loans to individuals exceeded the growth of total net loans and leases. However, the 2010 increase in consumer lending of 24.4% reflects financial institutions’ implementation of the FAS 166/167 accounting rules which moved loans from pools of securitized assets to the balance sheets of lenders. Since 2011, the gap between the growth in loans to individuals and total net loans and leases has closed as growth in loans to individuals has accelerated.

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In contrast, the gap between growth in single-family and multifamily lending compared to growth in total net loans and leases had steadily widened until 2014. In 2014, the gap between lending secured by single- and multifamily real estate and total net loans and leases converged. Figure 3 illustrates this result. According to the figure, between 2009 and 2013, the widening gap in growth rates occurred during a period in which lending secured my single-family and multifamily residences was declining and overall lending by depository institutions was growing. In 2014, the gap between the growth in single-and multifamily loans outstanding and total net loans and leases closed as loans for single- and multifamily real estate returned to growth.

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