Friday, May 18, 2007

Recent changes in US consumers' net debt position

According to InsideARM, "Economists are saying that the credit card sector is now beginning to pick up the slack from other spending sectors, most notably mortgages. “We've lost a half trillion in mortgage borrowing and consumers are making it up to some extent with credit cards,” said Chris Low, an economist at FTN Financial told Bloomberg. ”It looks like income growth is (also) beginning to lose some momentum.”

Lets see, according to the BLS release of May 15, real average weekly earnings fell by 0.5 percent from March to April. Also from the BLS, total employment "edged up (+88,000) in April", and "the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.5 percent."

According to the Federal Reserve, total consumer credit -- excluding mortgages -- increased $13.5 billion in March due to consumers adding $6.8 billion to their credit card balances and non-revolving credit, defined by the Fed as including "automobile loans and all other loans not included in revolving credit, such as loans for mobile homes, education, boats, trailers, or vacations" increasing by $6.7 billion...

So wages are flat and consumers are borrowing seems some reduction in consumption would be in order, but consumers don't seem to want that.

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