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Total Household Debt Hits a New Record High Led by Mortgages

Household debt hits a new high. When does the deleveraging start?
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Total Debt Balance courtesy of New York Fed

Total Debt Balance courtesy of New York Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit

The Report shows a solid increase in total household debt in the first quarter of 2022, increasing by $266 billion (1.7%) to $15.84 trillion. Balances now stand $1.7 trillion higher than at the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key Points

  • Mortgage balances rose by $250 billion in the first quarter of 2022 and stood at $11.18 trillion at the end of March. 
  • Credit card balances declined by $15 billion. Credit card balances are still $71 billion higher than Q1 2021 and represent a substantial year-over-year increase.
  • Auto loan balances increased by $11 billion in the first quarter
  • Student loan balances increased by $14 billion and now stand at $1.59 trillion. 
  • Non-housing balances grew by $17 billion.
  • Mortgage originations were at $859 billion, representing a decline from the high volumes seen during 2021, yet still $197 billion higher than in Q1 2020, right before the pandemic hit the United States.
  • The volume of newly originated auto loans was $177 billion during the first quarter, primarily reflecting an increase in auto prices.

Credit Card Balances Declined?

The second bullet point above is interesting. The report says credit card balances declined in the first quarter. 

However, the Fed's Consumer Credit report last Friday suggests the opposite.

Consumers Went on a Credit Card Spending Spree in March, Four Pictures

Consumer Credit details from the Fed, chart by Mish.

Consumer Credit details from the Fed, chart by Mish.

Yesterday, I commented Consumers Went on a Credit Card Spending Spree in March, Four Pictures

Consumer credit numbers via the Fed's G.19 Report came out last Friday.

The increase in $52.43 billion was the biggest jump in history by far. And most of it was credit card spending.

Revolving credit consists of credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and personal lines of credit, so I suppose it could be HELOCs but at these rates, that would make little sense.

Moreover, today's report says "Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) were relatively flat and have been for the past 3 quarters, bucking a declining trend in place since 2016Q4" so that's not the reason for the discrepancy.

Seasonal Adjustments?

"Credit card balances declined by $15 billion, a typical seasonal change,"  according to today's household report.

The G.19 Report is seasonally adjusted. 

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Revolving Consumer Credit

Consumer Credit details from the Fed, chart by Mish.

Consumer Credit details from the Fed, chart by Mish.

I posted that chart yesterday with these comments

  • That's the chart that gives room to pause. Despite massive jumps revolving debt has still not exceeded the pre-pandemic levels.
  • It appears consumers used Covid stimulus to pay down credit cards and now are running up credit card debt at a record pace. 

J Curve

Quite Strange

Synopsis 

  • HC Report: Credit card balances declined by $15 billion.
  • HC Report: Credit card balances are still $71 billion higher than Q1 2021 
  • HC Report: Revolving balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) were relatively flat and have been for the past 3 quarters
  • G1: Revolving credit rose by $31.37 billion in March, seasonally adjusted 
  • G1: Revolving credit is slightly lower than pre-pandemic 

Apparently credit card debt is rising and falling simultaneously.

Addendum - Potential Source of Discrepancy

The FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel consists of detailed Equifax credit-report data for a unique longitudinal quarterly panel of individuals and households from 1999 to 2022.

The panel is a nationally representative 5% random sample of all individuals with a social security number and a credit report (usually aged 19 and over). 

All figures shown in the tables and graphs are based on the 5% random sample of individuals. To reduce processing costs, we drew a 2% random subsample of these individuals, meaning that the results presented here are for a 0.1% random sample of individuals with credit reports, or approximately 267,000 individuals as of Q1 2017.

...   , a detailed accounting for the remaining differences between the debt measures from both data sources will require a more detailed breakdown and documentation of the computation of the FoF measures.

Quick Synopsis

This post originated at MishTalk.Com.

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