Consumer Credit Expanded in 2019

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The Federal Reserve’s latest G.19 Consumer Credit Report shows rising trends in consumer credit, excluding loans secured by real estate, through December 2019.

In 2019, consumer credit increased 4.8 percent, with revolving and nonrevolving credit increasing 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. In December, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6 percent from the previous month, with revolving debt1 increasing by 14.0 percent and nonrevolving debt2 increasing by 3.7 percent. Consumer credit totaled $4.2 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis, with $1.1 trillion in revolving debt1 and $3.1 trillion in nonrevolving debt2. This is an increase of $22.1 billion from the previous month, with revolving and non-revolving credit increasing by $12.6 billion and $9.4 billion, respectively.


The above figure shows yearly consumer debt levels since 2000. Apart from 2009, when the Great Recession occurred, consumer credit has been increasing every year. The shares of nonrevolving debt of total debt have been steady for the last 5 years, ranging from 26.1% to 26.8%.

Interestingly, the monthly seasonally adjusted year-over-year growth rate of non-real estate-related closed-end credit sank to its lowest rate since July 2018. The most recent round of the Federal Reserve Board’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey of bank lending practices highlighted the demand for construction loans slowing at the end of 2019. These loans may be one of several kinds of closed-end credit, which are non-real estate secured (not mortgages) but related to construction.

Notes:

  1. Revolving credit plans are largely composed of credit card debt but also include home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). These may be unsecured or secured by collateral and allow a consumer to borrow up to a prearranged limit and repay the debt in one or more installments. The G.19 Consumer Credit report excludes HELOCS and home equity loans, as they are secured by real estate.
  2. Nonrevolving credit is closed-end credit extended to consumers that is repaid on a prearranged repayment schedule and may be secured or unsecured.


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