Auto Loan Originations Help Drive Total Household Debt to $15.58 Trillion
According to the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, total household debt rose by $333 billion (2.2 percent) to reach $15.58 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Mortgage balances—the largest component of household debt—rose by $258 billion.
The volume of newly originated auto loans was $181 billion during the fourth quarter, primarily reflecting a higher origination amount per loan rather than more loans originated.
Credit card balances increased by $52 billion, while student loan debt contracted by $8 billion, remaining roughly flat in nominal terms at the end of 2021 after almost two decades of steady increases.
Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports increased by $258 billion during the fourth quarter of 2021 and stood at $10.93 trillion at the end of December. Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) were up very slightly, bucking a declining trend in place since 2016Q4, and keeping the outstanding balance at $318 billion. Credit card balances increased by $52 billion, the largest quarterly increase observed in the 22 year history of the data. Despite the substantial increase, credit card balances are $71 billion lower than at the end of 2019. Auto loan balances increased by $15 billion in the fourth quarter, a change similar to that seen in the fourth quarter in the previous two years. Student loan balances contracted by $8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, and marked a $21 billion increase since 2020Q4 –the smallest annual increase seen in nearly two decades. In total, non-housing balances grew by $74 billion, boosted additionally by a $15 billion increase in other balances.
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