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Is the US Consumer Re-Leveraging?

By February 18, 2015No Comments

Consumer Borrowings


Household debt—including mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and student loans—rose $117 billion from October to December to $11.8 trillion, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Tuesday.

But more Americans fell behind on auto and student loans. The share of auto-loan debt 90 or more days overdue jumped to 3.5% last quarter, from 3.1%. A similar rate for student loans rose to 11.3% from 11.1%.

All told, American households’ overall borrowing tab of $11.8 trillion remains 7% below its 2008 peak of $12.7 trillion, even before adjusting for inflation.

In a good sign, America’s increased borrowing has been broad-based: Mortgage balances—the bulk of U.S. household debt—edged up $39 billion to $8.2 trillion. New mortgage loans, including refinanced mortgages, totaled $355 billion last quarter, up $18 billion from the previous quarter—a sign that, slowly, Americans are borrowing to buy homes again.

Auto-loan balances grew $21 billion to $955 billion, and credit-card balances increased $20 billion to $700 billion. Student-loan debt—the fastest-growing category—rose $31 billion to $1.2 trillion.

(Source: WSJ)