After we first reported last week that US credit card, student and auto debt all hit record highs in December of 2017…
… it should not come as a surprise that according to the just released latest quarterly household debt and credit report by the NY Fed, Americans’ debt rose to a new record high in the fourth quarter on the back of an increase in virtually every form of debt: from mortgage, to auto, student and credit card debt (although HELOCs posted a tiny decline).
Aggregate household debt increased for the 14th straight quarter, rising by $193 billion (1.5%) to a new all time high, and as of December 31, 2017, total household indebtedness was $13.15 trillion, an increase of $572 billion from a year ago – the fifth consecutive year of increases – equivalent to 67% of US GDP, versus a high of around 87% in early 2009. After years of deleveraging in the wake of the 2007-09 recession, household debt has risen more than 18% since the trough hit in the spring of 2013.
Some more big picture trends:
- Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, increased by $139 billion during the quarter to $8.88 trillion from Q3 2017.
- Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) have been slowly declining; they dropped by another $4 billion and now stand at $444 billion.
- Non-housing balances, which have been increasing steadily for nearly 6 years overall, saw a $58 billion increase in the fourth quarter.
- Auto loans grew by $8 billion to $1.22 trillion
- Credit card balances increased by $26 billion to $834 billion
- Student loans saw a $21 billion increase to $1.38 trillion
There were some red flags of caution: confirming recent negative data from Wells Fargo, and suggesting that the housing recovery is stalling, mortgage originations were at $452 billion, down from $479 billion in the third quarter.
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