Consumer Credit Falls Off a Cliff

Brian Hicks

Updated September 9, 2009




Here’s proof  that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

From Bloomberg by Vincent Del Giudice entitled: U.S. Consumer Credit Falls by a Record $21.6 Billion

“U.S. consumer credit plunged more than five times as much as forecast in July as banks restricted lending terms and job losses made Americans reluctant to borrow.

Consumer credit fell by a record $21.6 billion, or 10 percent at an annual rate, to $2.5 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report released today in Washington. Credit dropped by $15.5 billion in June, more than previously estimated. Credit fell for a sixth month, the longest series of declines since 1991.

The credit crunch, stagnant incomes and declines in household wealth are casting doubt on the strength of the economic recovery. The arrival of the government’s “cash for clunkers” program in late July wasn’t enough to keep credit that covers car loans from plummeting by a record amount, as consumers delayed other purchases.

“Lenders are restricting access to credit because risk has increased and that is intersecting with households reducing their leverage,” said Richard DeKaser, chief economist at Woodley Park Research in Washington, whose forecast of a decline of $12 billion was the most pessimistic among economists surveyed. “Cash-for-clunkers is to some extent shifting demand from one place to another, not creating it.”

Economists had forecast consumer credit would drop $4 billion in July, according to the median of 31 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from declines of $12 billion to no change from the previous month. The Fed initially said consumer credit decreased by $10.3 billion in June.

Revolving debt, such as credit cards, fell by $6.1 billion in July, the Fed report showed. Non-revolving debt, including loans for automobiles and mobile homes, plunged by $15.4 billion. The Fed’s report doesn’t cover borrowing secured by real estate.

Consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in July, following a 0.6 percent increase in June, government data showed on Aug. 28. Excluding cars, purchases were little changed.”

Gee, at this rate you have to wonder what Christmas will look like this year. It looks like the Grinch is warming up the sled.

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