- Today the Federal Reserve released monthly data on Consumer Credit
from February 2009. In February, consumer credit decreased at a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.5 percent.
- Revolving credit, such as credit cards that do not have a set
number of payments, decreased 9.75 percent. Non-revolving credit, such
as secured and unsecured credit for automobiles, mobile homes,
trailers, durable goods, vacations, and other purposes, decreased 0.25
- Previous figures on consumer credit for December and January were
revised upward to show either a smaller decline or greater expansion.
This is a small piece of good news.
What does today's data mean for REALTORS® and consumers?
- Consumer credit outstanding in February 2009 is 2.56 trillion down
from 2.58 trillion in July 2008. While this one percent decline may not
sound significant, when you consider that the trend from 2003 to 2007
was for growth in consumer credit near 5 percent annually, a one
percent decline over about half a year is more of a concern. Growth in
consumer credit growth over a longer historical period is even higher
than the 5 percent seen in the recent past.
- As consumer credit is squeezed, so are consumer purchases. Growth
in Personal Consumption Expenditures, a contributor to GDP, tends to
follow a similar pattern to consumer credit and declined at an annual
rate of about one percent in the second half of 2008.
- The consumer credit release does not provide information credit to
the housing market via mortgages, home equity loans, or home equity
lines of credit. It does, however, give us a picture of other credit
available to consumers and therefore an idea of what pattern consumer
spending may follow. The forecast is downgraded a notch as a result.
Daily Forecast Update
- NAR's monthly official forecast as of April 1
- GDP Q1: -5.0%
- GDP Q2: - 1.8%
- Unemployment rate by the end of 2009: 10.0%
- Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate by the end of 2009: 5.2%