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Credit Card Debt Exceeds $1 Trillion


The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit. The report shows a slight uptick in total household debt in the second quarter of 2023, increasing by $16 billion (0.1%) to $17.06 trillion. The report is based on data from the New York Fed’s nationally representative Consumer Credit Panel.

Credit card balances increased by $45 billion, from $986 billion in Q1 2023 to a series high of $1.03 trillion in Q2 2023, marking a 4.6% quarterly increase. Credit card accounts expanded by 5.48 million to 578.35 million.

Aggregate limits on credit card accounts increased by $9 billion and now stand at $4.6 trillion.

Mortgage balances were largely unchanged from the previous quarter and stood at $12.01 trillion at the end of June, in large part due to declining mortgage originations and slowing home prices. Mortgage originations, which include refinances, stood at $393 billion in the second quarter, representing a $70 billion increase from the first quarter.

Other balances, which include retail cards and other consumer loans, increased by $15 billion.

Auto loan balances rose by $20 billion, consistent with the upward trajectory seen since 2011. The volume of newly originated auto loans, which includes leases, was $179 billion, largely reflecting the high dollar values of originated loans even as the number of newly opened loans remains below pre-pandemic levels. Student loan balances fell by $35 billion and stood at $1.57 trillion. Delinquency rates were roughly flat in the second quarter of 2023 and remained low, after declining sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. The share of debt newly transitioning into delinquency increased for credit cards and auto loans, with increases in transition rates of 0.7 and 0.4 percentage points respectively.

Compared to other debt categories this quarter, credit card balances saw the most pronounced worsening in performance, following a period of extraordinarily low delinquency rates during the pandemic. Student loan performance was unchanged, with reported delinquencies at historic lows as the federal repayment pause remains in place until August 31, 2023.

“Credit card balances saw brisk growth in the second quarter,” said Joelle Scally, Regional Economic Principal within the Household and Public Policy Research Division at the New York Fed. “And while delinquency rates have edged up, they appear to have normalized to pre-pandemic levels.”

The New York Fed also issued an accompanying Liberty Street Economics blog post examining trends in credit card lending and repayment. The blog found that, despite the toll inflation has taken on consumers, there is little evidence of widespread distress in households.

The Quarterly Report includes a summary of key takeaways and their supporting data points. Overarching trends from the report’s summary include:

Housing Debt

  • There was $393 billion in newly originated mortgage debt in Q2 2023 reflecting a modest increase in purchase originations as refinance originations have slowed.
  • About 39,000 individuals had new foreclosure notations on their credit reports, a very small increase from the first quarter. New foreclosures have stayed very low since even since the CARES Act moratorium was lifted.

Student Loans

  • Outstanding student loan debt stood at $1.57 trillion in Q2 2023.
  • Federal student loan payments remain suspended until October 2023 and missed payments on federal student loans will not be reported to credit bureaus until Q4 2024. Because of these policies, less than 1% of aggregate student debt was reported 90+ days delinquent or in default in Q2 2023.

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