Credit-card use down, consumer credit up in Nov.

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Jan. 7 at 2:11 p.m.

Americans kept their credit cards at bay in November, subdued by high joblessness and fallen home values.

The 27th straight drop in revolving credit restrained overall consumer borrowing, according to the Federal Reserve’s monthly consumer credit data.

The report Friday also said consumer credit outstanding increased $1.3 billion, or 0.7 percent, to $2.40 trillion. Climbing student loans drove the unexpected increase.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted consumer credit in November would remain unchanged.

The Fed revised up October consumer credit sharply, saying it climbed 3.5 percent instead of an originally reported 1.7 percent.

The back-to-back increases in consumer credit followed 20 straight declines during large charge-offs by banks on bad loans and tightened lending standards in the wake of the recession.

Consumer spending is a big part of the economy. But because of unemployment and shrinking home values, Americans have been saving more and borrowing less, which has slowed the recovery.

The report on November borrowing showed revolving credit, or credit-card use, decreased $4.2 billion, or 6.3 percent, to $796.5 billion. The last time credit-card debt rose was August 2008.

Nonrevolving credit in November rose 4.2 percent, or $5.6 billion to $1.61 trillion. Lending by the federal government for student loans continued to climb, benefiting from a law passed by Congress that makes the government the primary lender to students, rather than a guarantor backing private loans.

The consumer-credit report doesn’t include numbers on home mortgages and other real estate-secured loans. But the data are important for the insight given into consumer behavior.

Read more about the topics in this post: , ,

Comments are closed.