N.Y. Fed: Household Deleveraging Continues

Includes: KME
by: Cullen Roche

The latest NY Fed report on household debt showed continued deleveraging, but continued improvement in many trends:

Aggregate consumer debt declined in the first quarter, by $110 billion, resuming the longer-term downward trend. As of March 31, 2013, total consumer indebtedness was $11.23 trillion, 1.0% lower than its level in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall consumer debt remains considerably below its peak of $12.68 trillion in Q3 2008.

Mortgages, the largest component of household debt, fell in the first quarter of 2013. Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports stand at $7.93 trillion, down $101 billion from the level in the fourth quarter of 2012. Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) dropped by $11 billion (2.0%) and now stand at $552 billion. Household non-housing debt balances were roughly flat, with increases in auto and student loans, by $11 billion and $20 billion respectively, offset by decreases in credit card balances ($19 billion) and other consumer loan balances ($10 billion).

Technically, it's still a deleveraging, but this is a story about gradual improvement. And this deleveraging has essentially slowed to a trickle at this point and is likely to turn positive in the coming quarters. I wouldn't declare the balance sheet recession in the U.S. over, but its impact is certainly waning.