Amid a surge of credit card borrowing, Americans continued to raise the amount of debt they have taken on in the fourth quarter, even as mortgage borrowing declined amid rising interest rates and increased borrowing costs, according to the Federal Reserve Tuesday.
According to the new quarterly report on household debt and credit, during the third quarter, total borrowing rose by $351 billion to $16.51 trillion. Compared to the level of overall borrowing seen at the end of 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic upset the entire economy, overall borrowing was $2.36 trillion higher.
Donghoon Lee, a New York Fed research advisor said in a press release, “Credit card, mortgage, and auto loan balances continued to increase in the third quarter of 2022 reflecting a combination of robust consumer demand and higher prices. However, new mortgage originations have slowed to pre-pandemic levels amid rising interest rates.”
Rising home prices, higher car prices, and high prices at the gasoline pump have all been tapping consumer’s pocketbooks, and forcing them to lean on credit more heavily to cover any shortfalls.
Mortgage originations, including refinancing existing loans, dropped by $126 billion since the second quarter, coming in at $633 billion for the third quarter. The central bank said mortgage activity looks very much like what was seen before the pandemic struck. The report noted foreclosures remain low.
Regardless, overall mortgage debt rose by $282 billion over the third quarter, hitting $11.67 trillion by the end of September.
The report showed that there was a 15% increase in credit card balances over the third quarter, marking the largest such increase in over 20 years. Overall delinquencies remained steady at “very low” and American’s credit worthiness remained pretty good.
In a blog post about the report, the New York Fed said, “With prices more than 8% higher than they were a year ago, it is perhaps unsurprising that balances are increasing,” at nearly double last year’s rate.
Student loan balances declined slightly over the third quarter, coming in at $1.57 trillion. There was about 4% of student loan debt which was delinquent or in default, of which the report noted, “the lower level of student debt delinquency reflects the continued repayment pause on student loans, which is scheduled to end on January 1, 2023.”