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Consumer Credit: Large Jump, Potential Turn in Trend?

January 8, 2018
Bottom Line: Consumer credit rose sharply more than expected in November. Growth came in both revolving (credit cards mainly) and non-revolving loans (student loans and autos). While a bit too soon to call a turn in trend from the slower growth seen since early '17, there was strong growth in both cyclically-sensitive categories, credit cards and autos. Autos will be important to watch going forward as we see if gains can continue without hurricane-related buying. So too will retail sales - for now November's advances appear to have been funded with credit cards.

Consumer Credit ROSE by $27.9 billion in November, compared with market expectations for an increase of $18.0 billion. However, the prior two months were revised lower by $1.4 billion. Over the past year, consumer credit has increased by $193.8 billion or 5.3%.

Revolving Credit, including credit cards, ROSE by $11.2 billion. Over the past year, revolving credit has increased by $55.1 billion or 5.7%. Revolving debt is now 0.2% above its July 2008 peak.

Non-Revolving Credit, including auto and education loans, ROSE by $16.8 billion.

Over the past year, non-revolving credit has increased by $138.7 billion or 5.2%. Of this amount, $97.5 billion, or 70.3%, appears to be due to increases in student loans held by the federal government.