Consumer deleveraging datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
September 8, 2009
Fed:

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Straight from the Fed:

Consumer credit decreased at an annual rate of 10-1/2 percent in July 2009. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 8 percent, and nonrevolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 11-3/4 percent.

That’s huge, and it’s good news: individuals are clearly getting their fiscal houses in order. I am interested that nonrevolving credit is falling faster than revolving credit (ie credit cards): that might well be a function of the sharp drop in auto purchases, and will spike back up when people start buying cars again.

Total consumer credit is now $2,472 billion, down more than $100 billion, or 4%, from the $2,578 billion level seen in the third quarter of last year. Revolving credit is down more than 9% from its end-2008 level.

And get this: consumers aren’t just deleveraging, they’re also getting more sensible about where they’re borrowing. Look at the numbers for credit unions: total consumer credit extended from credit unions has now hit a new all-time high of $238 billion. No deleveraging there — even credit-union credit cards are being more used than ever.

With any luck, the US consumer’s new habits — of thinking hard about one’s financial situation and trying to minimize debt — will last long. Would that Corporate America thought the same way.

(Via Conaway)

Update: Jake has a very pretty chart.

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