NY Fed: Check Out Consumer Credit Healing

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released the Quarterly Household Debt and Credit Report for the first quarter of 2011 today, which showed signs of healing in the consumer credit markets. Evidence of improvement includes:

  • an increase in credit limits, by about $30 billion or 1%, for the first time since the third quarter of 2008;
  • a steady number of open mortgage accounts, following a period of decline beginning in early 2008;
  • continued decline of new foreclosures and new bankruptcies, down 17.7% and 13.3% respectively in the last quarter;
  • a 15% decline of total delinquent balances, compared to a year ago; and
  • a broad flattening of overall consumer debt balances outstanding.

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Non-housing related debt, including credit cards, student loans, and auto loans, declined slightly (less than 1%), driven by a noticeable 4.6% decline in credit card balances. Credit inquiries, an indicator of consumer demand for new credit, came off their recent peak in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“We are beginning to see signs of credit markets healing gradually and evidence of greater willingness of consumers to borrow and banks to lend,” said Andrew Haughwout, vice president and New York Fed research economist. “We will continue to closely monitor these trends and see if they are sustained in coming quarters.”

The New York Fed releases this information on a quarterly basis in order to help community groups, small businesses, state and local government agencies and the public better understand, monitor and respond to trends in borrowing and indebtedness at the household level. The next release is scheduled for August 8, 2011.