Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Jake at EconPicData looks at last week's consumer credit report (a data release from the Federal Reserve that, for some unknown reason, comes at 3PM EST on Fridays) and wonders if the American consumer is once again in a spending mood.
Total consumer credit expanded by $5.0 billion in January, the first increase in 11 months and only the third gain in almost a year-and-half in what has otherwise been a decades-long credit and spending binge.
The longer term view of consumer credit relative to disposable income is updated in the graphic below from this follow-up item that adds some perspective, the big caveat here being that these figures do not include housing related debt such as home equity loans that reached a peak a few years ago and have been falling sharply.
Lastly, from data at the St. Louis Fed, you can easily see how life in America has changed over the last 70 years, that is, credit-wise, as the last year or so has seen a dramatic departure from the predominant trend since the Reagan administration.
Yes, the chart above looks much less menacing when a log scale is used so, that alternative view of things is provided below.
What is still significant, however, is that the recent contraction is the swiftest ever seen.
By the way, if you live in the Bay Area and know of any job openings, Jake has a favor to ask.