Consumer borrowing falls in March at fastest pace in over 18 years, Americans saving more
In dollar terms, consumer borrowing plunged by $11.1 billion. That’s the largest dollar amount on records dating to 1943, and more than three times the $3.5 billion drop that economists expected. The borrowing category that includes credit cards dropped 6.8 percent in March after a 12.1 percent plunge in February. The category that includes auto loans fell 4.2 percent after rising by 1.2 percent in February.
The Commerce Department last week said that the personal savings rate edged up to 4.2 percent in March, marking the first time in a decade that the savings rate has been above 4 percent for three straight months.
Good. Consumer debt is far to large and should be paid down. This is a start but a small start, but a much larger reduction in outstanding consumer debt is needed before we have reached a healthy level of debt. The continued improvement in that debt level signifies a stronger economy. Far too many financial journalists instead of pointing out the benefits of such improvement note that this reduces current consumption (and thus, effectively, will lower current GDP – compared to what it would be if we continued to spend beyond our means). You cannot spend money your don’t have forever.
Having more stuff in your house (along with an increased outstanding credit card balance) does not make you economically more successful. And the same holds true for the economy. Having more stuff sitting in people’s house and an increasing debt load is not the sign of a stronger economy (even if it is a route to a higher current GDP). Increased saving and reducing debt will strengthen the economy and improve our economic success over the long term.
Related: Will Americans Actually Save and Worsen the Recession? – Proper credit card use – Personal Saving and Personal Debt in the USA – Americans are Drowning in Debt – Buying Stuff to Feel Powerful