Today, investors and economists will pay close attention to the Federal Reserve’s latest report on consumer credit for the month of April.
Economists project the report will show total consumer debt increased by $35 billion to a record $4.57 trillion. In the first quarter, consumer credit rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 9.7%.
Revolving credit, which is mostly credit card debt, makes up nearly a quarter of all consumer debt. It jumped 21.4% in the first three months of the year. The data suggests that as inflation has spiked, consumers have kept retail spending at high levels by borrowing more.
Earlier last month, the New York Federal Reserve reported that household debt climbed to $15.8 trillion in the first quarter of 2022. That is up $266 billion or 1.7% from the previous quarter, and is $1.7 trillion higher than at the end of 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mortgage and auto loan balances drove the increase, according to the Fed, climbing by $250 billion for mortgage loans and $11 billion for auto loans.
"The rise in consumer debt levels as the economy slows and interest rates rise could lead to a hard pullback in consumer spending. Since consumer spending accounts for 70% of U.S. GDP, any pullback could tip the economy into a recession," stated Caleb Silver, Editor-in-Chief of Investopedia.