Consumer Credit Climbs Higher Than Expected

U.S. consumer credit increased more than forecast in August as school loans and other non-revolving debt rose by the most in three years.

Total credit climbed $17.9 billion from the prior month, after a revised $23 billion gain in July that was the largest since late 2017, Federal Reserve figures showed Monday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a $15 billion increase. Outstanding non-revolving credit jumped $19.8 billion.

Key Insights

  • The advance in non-revolving debt, which includes educational loans, was the biggest since August 2016 and probably reflected the start of a new school year at the nation’s universities. The gain more than offset a $1.9 billion decrease in revolving debt outstanding.
  • The revolving-credit figure signals households are trying to keep their budgets in check.
  • As businesses cut back on investment and the manufacturing sector shrinks further, the nation relies increasingly on consumers to spend and propel growth.
  • Data out last week showed cooling job growth and the weakest wage gains in more than a year. Still unemployment hit a half-century low, which should support future consumption.
  • Non-revolving debt outstanding also includes loans for cars.
  • Credit expanded at an annual rate of 5.2% in August, after growing 6.7% the month prior.
  • Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, jumped by $19.4 billion before seasonal adjustment.
  • The consumer credit report doesn’t track debt secured by real estate, such as home mortgages.
Source:  Bloomberg