Consumer Borrowing Growth Drops to 5 Year Low

The level of U.S. consumer debt logged in January, measured in the amount outstanding, posted its smallest advance in roughly five years, as credit card balances dropped.

As reported by Bloomberg News, the Federal Reserve showed that the $8.8 billion net gain was the smallest addition since July of 2012. The tally also was below estimates of $17 billion and is dwarfed by the $14.8 billion gain seen in December of 2016.

The debt level calculated includes revolving debt, which is a classification that includes credit cards. The balances paid down reflect at least some boost from holiday spending, as that debt slipped by $3.8 billion after gaining $3.6 billion in December.

The latest data on revolving debt run contrary to non-revolving credit where balances gained. The debt here encompasses school loans and durable goods, including automobiles. The non-revolving debt totals reflected a $12.6 billion gain in January, up from an $11.2 billion boost.

Earlier this month, the Nilson Report showed that 86 percent of the $1 trillion in credit card outstanding debt was generated by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards. The number of consumers carrying that debt shook out to 157 million cardholders.

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